A trip down Mum­bai’s lanes.

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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.

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