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Maximum City

‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta has been on my bedside table for some time now. I’ve looked forward to reading this acclaimed account of my city. I’ve made a few attempts to read it. Mehta is a wonderful writer. Every time I pick up the book I end up feeling depressed. I’ve gone back to it time and again, hoping that something in the pages will renew my affection for the city.

But it’s gone. I can see it in my anger and irritation that the stories generate in me. I can feel it when my stomach churns at the thought of leaping into a packed, running train again. I feel myself recoil at the possibility of being groped, touched without my permission by passers-by, complete strangers who believe they have the liberty and access to my body.

Mehta talks about being an ‘exile’. I heard that thought echo when we were at friends in England and one of them said that she didn’t feel at home anywhere.

I don’t feel at home in Mumbai. I don’t think I ever did. That’s a different statement from having a home there, though. The city is a place where my family lives and works. But that’s the extent of my affection for it.

Every time I go back ‘home’, I echo Mehta’s words. I feel as if I’m in a movie – surely, in the 21st century, things should be better?

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One comment on “Maximum City

  1. I don’t feel at home anywhere. Or maybe that’s a way of saying I feel at home everywhere.

    If it’s any help, Mehta’s book is pretty old, and the Bombay of today is quite different to the Bombay he describes. It’s a passionate and powerful book though. I loved it.

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