Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not really the Maximum City

Maximum City
Bombay lost and found
-Suketu Mehta

I had been looking forward to reading this book for absolutely ages. It was the book that was meant to make me to understand the city, to appreciate it and even love it. Unfortunately, it has not happened that way. I thought the book to be quite ordinary. The city that the book describes is full of weirdo’s and characters living on the fringes of society and acceptability, and if that really is the reality of Bombay then it’s a rather sad city.

In my opinion, the author wasn’t able to really capture the essence of Bombay, its spirit and its life. I believe there is more to Bombay than the hype of its unquestioned acceptance of all, its slums and the Hindi film industry.

The most surprising part of the book was that there was not a single character in the book to whom I could relate to, not a single normal person at all. Only gangsters, bar girls, slum dwellers and the highly talented and often eccentric Vidhu Vinod Chopra resided on the pages of this book.

I had been planning to continue with the Bombay theme and read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts next, which is the story of his life in the Bombay slums after escaping prison in Australia. Maximum City turned out to be what I thought would be the general setting of Shantaram. So, I am escaping a bit and switching cities to read a book about Venice called The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.

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