I recently read S Hareesh's Moustache, a Malayalam book set in the Kuttanad region of Kerala. A land reclaimed by lakes and most importantly on the labour distribution, caste, toxic masculinity in late-colonial India. While I was reading the book, I could not stop comparing it to Mumbai. The landscape of both places are not the same but we were also a city defined by a landscape surrounded by water and 'peopled' by communities who live off the natural resources and maintaining a balance between over-extraction and sustainability - before the city grew and ate up the whole region.

While there are a lot of Mumbai books in English, I was wondering if there is are novels or collections of stories that spoke about the inhabitants of Mumbai who lived off the land and the sea. I had questions about the different fishing communities - the ones who go fishing in the deep sea and those who rely on our creeks, mangroves, and inlets. The stories of our Agris and Kolis. I would like to know how life has changed gradually over the last 200 years and what was the relationship between the not so visible castes and communities.

Villages of Mumbai

When you look at life in the surviving villages of Mumbai, they seem like a colourful reflection of what it was. The hide more than reveal what they have evolved from. What was the life of their earlier generations like? Not too much in the past, but even 2-3 generations before.

I would like to read a Baluta by Daya Pawar but about a similar community from the coast. I would like to see what toxic masculinity was if it existed here too in Mumbai. What were the lives of women?

I want someone to write a book and then Nagraj Manjule or someone with a sensibility he showed in Fandry to make a movie.

I am sure that there are many non-fiction books, studies about that age. However, stories bring alive the details that are missed in such studies. They also recreate a period, a time, and life of people that will be forgotten and built over with concrete.

Searching for ghosts from the past

If there are books like those, do let me know at

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