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542 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2004
The reason Bombay is choking is the Rent Act.
The root of the problem is that there are simply not enough policemen for this exploding city.
A Mumbai Vs Bombay encapsulated as a Ghatis Vs Bombayites war. (Ghati meaning hill-people, or the derogatory term for Marathi natives)
The government can stomach a documentary film about the riots but not an emotional, mainstream one. The Enlightenment hasn’t reached these shores; it carries no weight.
One blue-bright Bombay morning, in the middle of the masses on the street, I have a vision: that all these individuals, each with his or her own favorite song and hairstyle, each tormented by an exclusive demon, form but the discrete cells of one gigantic organism, one vast but singular intelligence, one sensibility, one consciousness. And if I understand them well, they will all merge back into me, and the crowd will become the self, one, many-splendored.
"Maximum City is billed as non-fiction, but has the intensity and vividness of fiction.."the author has such a keen eye and intimacy with the thoughts, feelings and intentions of the person he is talking to that you cannot help but follow the life of the interviewee (be it a bar dancer or a mafia) with such acuteness that you cannot wait to reach the end.
The reason a human being can live in a Bombay slum and not lose his sanity is that his dream life is bigger than his squalid quarters.
There is plenty of discussion about the lives of the rich, but nothing is spoken about the lives of the poor.That one statement accurately summarises the problem with Mumbai. It also capsulises the fault of this book, the least of which is that it ended up being named what it is.
The First World lives smack in the centre of the Third.In writing Maximum City, Mehta travels all the way from the very top of the First World — from New York City — into the First World within the Third, and not much beyond. All true significance, hence, is lost, and nothing of note is found.