Kalpana Swaminathan and Ishrat Syed
In 2007, as we stood watching Room 000 disappear, we felt the anguish of loss. We had been working there for the past five years on the story of Mumbai's epidemics. Grant Medical College was the arena of experimentation and discovery that opened a new era of therapeutics. The world converged here to compete in the race for vaccines and cures, to compare notes, and also to share responsibility. It was a moment unparalleled in the history of medicine.
And here it was, being erased before our eyes. It was a harsh moment. We said nothing to each other, but when we turned away from that building, we carried with us the responsibility of giving a voice to Room 000. That triggered a journey to discover the Bombay of 1896.
The book became an optical corrective. Through the lens of 1896, we began to see that the city's responses hadn't changed a whit; policymakers haven't changed either. When the next epidemic strikes Mumbai, will we repeat the mistakes of 1896?