Mid Day

Neigh­bour­hood he­roes

- BENITA FER­NANDO benita.fer­nando@mid-day.com Entertainment · Arts · Books · Aladdin · Planet Hollywood · Instagram · Children's Books · Anil Kapoor

IT is not of­ten that you can call a fel­low Mum­baikar an Aladdin in the Cave of Won­ders, or a Cin­derella in Khaki. Yet, if you think about it, that is how an an­tiques seller in Chor Bazaar or a po­lice­woman could be de­scribed. Th­ese won­drous ep­i­thets are part of a col­lec­tion of real-life ac­counts in an an­thol­ogy ti­tled Peo­ple Called Mum­bai, a 2015 publi­ca­tion which has been re­cently adapted for chil­dren.

The sto­ries in Peo­ple Called Mum­bai were orig­i­nally cu­rated by a group of ar­chi­tects as an at­tempt to map the city. The ini­tia­tive was one of the publi­ca­tions by Peo­ple Place Pro­ject, a plat­form founded by ar­chi­tect Nisha Nair-Gupta, as a tool to spark off dis­cus­sions about the city. “We want to use books as a method of cre­at­ing more con­scious­ness about the city. Peo­ple Called Mum­bai is a cu­rated an­thol­ogy of in­ter­views that brings to­gether a spec­trum of peo­ple. With mul­ti­ple sto­ries, Mum­bai is so com­plex that one book is not enough,” says Nair.

The “ju­nior ver­sion” of this book is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Peo­ple Place Pro­ject, chil­dren’s au­thor Vinitha Ram­chan­dani, and the pub­lisher, FunOKPleas­e. Ram­chan­dani, who has writ­ten more than 25 books for chil­dren, adapted 20 of the sto­ries from Peo­ple Called Mum­bai for this edi­tion, meant for read­ers be­tween the ages 8 to 12. It meant that Ram­chan­dani stayed true to the orig­i­nal ac­counts but chose to tell them dif­fer­ently for her young read­ers.

The re­sult, says Ram­chan­dani, is a chil­dren’s an­thol­ogy that is non-judge­men­tal, for it brings to­gether nar­ra­tives that cut across class, re­li­gion and oc­cu­pa­tion. Here is where the story of Kalyan Kar­markar, one of the pi­o­neers of the food tourism in the coun­try, shares space with Dat­taram Avhad, who wears the badge of Coolie No. 1035. Navin Rathod, well­known as a dop­pel­ganger of ac­tor Anil Kapoor, tells his story, as does park­ourist Giles D’Souza.

The book, priced at R299, is pep­pered with il­lus­tra­tions by Happy Fish, mainly in the form of car­i­ca­tures of th­ese ev­ery­day he­roes. There are also en­tries on top­ics rel­e­vant to each story, such as “refugee” or “Koli”, as well as in­ter­est­ing trivia about the city. Ram­chan­dani says that they have bal­anced the vic­to­ries that the city en­com­passes with the strug­gles.

To be launched this evening, the chil­dren’s ver­sion of Peo­ple Called Mum­bai joins a num­ber of sto­ry­tellers who have man­aged to cap­ture the lo­cal, neigh­bour­hood sto­ries that ev­ery big city has but hides. Take Gyan Prakash’s book, Mum­bai Fables or the In­sta­gram se­ries, Ev­ery­day Mum­bai. Here are niche coun­ter­points to the bom­bas­tic his­tory of the megapo­lis. We sug­gest you take the young ones on a day trip round the city, this book in hand.

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 ?? PICS/PEO­PLE PLACE PRO­JECT ?? Au­thor Vinitha Ram­chan­dani, ar­chi­tect Nisha Nair-Gupta and pub­lisher Preeti Vyas; (Left): A car­i­ca­ture of Salim, an an­tiques seller at Chor Bazaar, from the chil­dren’s ver­sion of Peo­ple Called Mum­bai.
PICS/PEO­PLE PLACE PRO­JECT Au­thor Vinitha Ram­chan­dani, ar­chi­tect Nisha Nair-Gupta and pub­lisher Preeti Vyas; (Left): A car­i­ca­ture of Salim, an an­tiques seller at Chor Bazaar, from the chil­dren’s ver­sion of Peo­ple Called Mum­bai.

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