Coming Back to the City: Mumbai Stories
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Stories from the great metropolis—home to the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved.
In Parel’s Jupiter Mills chawl, one of the few remaining ones in Mumbai, live many long-time residents: Pooja, restless and trapped in an unhappy marriage, finds joy in her flourishing dabba service and attempts at learning English. Pooja’s husband Mahesh whose only dream is to zip through the streets in his boss’s yellow Mercedes-Benz. Dr Joshi who has hidden away two paintings: one of a murder he witnessed, and the other a striking portrait of Pooja. And Vasudha, a scheming single mother who hopes to give her daughter a better life in this treacherous city.
In the parallel Mumbai of high-rises live the affluent few: Suhel, a confirmed bachelor, who finds himself falling in love—first with a portrait and then its subject, Pooja. Ghatge, Mahesh’s boss and an upcoming politician of dubious repute. A young and disturbed journalist Raina Gupta who opens up old wounds when she interviews veteran activist Neera Joshi about the mill-workers’ strike of the 1980s and her scandalous affair with its assassinated leader. And Dr Sneha Desai, a successful but lonely radiologist, fighting to restart her sex-education classes for adolescents in a municipal school.
In the Mumbai of mills and malls where everything—especially land—is at a premium, the chawl becomes the target of greedy real-estate barons and sleazy politicians, thus bringing together this interconnected cast of characters.
As vast and diverse as Mumbai itself, Coming Back to the City draws us effortlessly, completely into the lives of the people who animate the maximum city, even as they are consumed by it—people caught in a web of unexpected love, desperate ambition and endless, addictive optimism.
Anuradha Kumar’s is author of eight novels, including Letters for Paul, It Takes a Murder (2013) and two works of historical fiction written under the psuedonym of Adity Kay: Emperor Chandragupta (2016) and Emperor Vikramaditya (2019). She also writes for younger readers, and has contributed often to Scroll.in, Economic and Political Weekly, thewire.in, theaerogram.com, and other places. She was awarded twice (2004, 2010) for her stories by the Commonwealth Foundation, and has received other awards from The Little Magazine and Hindu-Goodbooks.in.