A trip down Mumbai’s lanes.
Bombay had earned a reputation for its nurturing abilities, in a way it welcome sin all newcomers who get the opportunity to grow in their lives.”
Set around the time of independence, S. Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri To Dubai portrays the birth of the dreaded Mumbai mafia. The book provides a brief glimpse into the lives of dons like Haji Mastan, Vardha Bhai, and the Pathans, who made Mumbai not just their home but their hub of criminal activities. Places like Byculla, Dongri, Kamathipura and Chor Bazaar are prominently featured, and the lives of these people and the culture of the city have been painstakingly described.
Dongri is home to thousands of people who have been isolated, in a sense, from urban development. A walk through the streets is enough to tell you that Zaidi was very accurate in his descriptions. Dongri starts from Crawford Market and goes on until JJ hospital. It is a long walk, but these streets have witnessed power changing hands over and over. And you can still tell that the area saw peace give way to violence, and witnessed respect born out of admiration change to deference born out of fear.
An elderly gentleman, Ali Raza Khan, selling kebabs at a roadside stall, however, has hope for the area. “There are a lot of people who want to do good here. We have participated in programmes that aim to improve our image. Our locality has been perceived as a violent place because of a few. But in reality, it is not,” he said.