Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mumbai’s Psyche - Excerpt from Never Mind Yaar

Today, we know there is nothing unusual about living with diverse cultures. It is a world wide phenomenon. But there is this other dimension to Mumbai, which makes it so unique. Except for scholars of religions, no other people in so many numbers seem to know so much about the philosophies of different religions. 

The knowledge almost seems to be acquired by symbiosis. If analysed, it may, no doubt, be very superficial and even inaccurate. But borne out of this has been a slight blending of faiths. Thus, it isn't unusual to see, a Parsi lady paying her respects to Sai Baba - offering Indian sweets and praying fervently for all things most human beings pray for (health of a loved one, success in an exam) - without losing her devotion for and prayers to Zoroaster; a non-Buddhist declaring a fast on Thursday out of respect for Lord Buddha; Many Mumbaikars, irrespective of the religion they were born in, believe in putting garlands of Marigold at the entrance to their homes for good luck during Dusshera - the day Ram returned to his kingdom, victorious, after defeating the evil rakshas or demon, Ravan, who had captured his wife Sita; And many believe in the Hindu Goddess of Wealth - Laxmi, (the word is now synonymous with wealth in many an Indian vocabulary) who, it is said, only enters brightly lit places during Diwali.

Rachana - Mrs. D’Costa’s maid - being a very devout Buddhist, celebrated Lord Buddha and prayed to him through the year. But she also went on foot for seven continuous Wednesdays, to attend the ‘Novenas’ at the Church of Mahim, about 5 km from her home.  Over there she prayed to the Virgin Mary to turn her alcoholic, wife-beating husband into a new leaf, which was asking for nothing short of a miracle.

Perhaps it is sights like these - the willingness to gain succour and strength from saints of other religions without feeling one is letting down one's own - that has made Mumbai so unique in the eyes of her residents. And perhaps, that is why, so many of them seem to have this implicit belief in the truly secular nature of their city.

For reviews and more about the book go here  
Excerpt 1


  1. this one brought tears to my eyes.... loved everyyyyyyy bit of it.......i feel so blessed and so so so fortunate to be born an Indian... this is a precious land.. and am absolutely in love with our people..they might not be fine breeds due to lack of basic necessities but look at the golden spirit that they carry within themselves... i look at them and wonder - how easy it is to be happy if you choose to be .... they smile and splash color and lights despite the fact that we do not have any developed nation theory to boast of ... i am absolutely in love with my land!!! where can i find your book?

  2. Your name suits you - flying high :-) I hope you always do. But please do remember, just like the rest of the world we have a fair sprinkling of the other kind too - the communal minded.

    Never Mind Yaar is on Amazon - if you do read it, let me know what you think. Before you do buy it why don't you go to the link/s at the bottom of the post? There are excerpts, a reading and more about the book.

  3. Religion is the opiate of the masses. It's faith that keeps them alive.

  4. I totally agree, Purba. And it is immensely powerful.

  5. i am so true to the gut proud of my country and whatever it has to offer..i know we are plagued by such vices but its such examples that you written about that keep us alive and give us a reason to look ahead for better...loved your observation kayem:)

  6. Yes definitely Sulagna - if you've lived in India in your youth, it gets under your skin. I think it is because of the ordinary folk. But I'm sure others have other reasons. And I suspect it might be true of anyone and their own country of youth. William Pfaff, the philosopher, called it a "primordial" instinct. It simply cannot be explained away by reason or logic. It just is.

  7. Muslim Women in Patna, India, clean the banks of the river in their city so their Hindu counterparts can take part in a Hindu festival on the river's banks without stepping on sharp objects.

    Only in India...

  8. Ordering the book right away from Flipkart.I love Mumbai for more reasons than gave me wings!About religion,so long as it is personal,not affecting our work and purpose in life and most of all , not hurting other's is good,else,not for me.Loved the positivity on your site:)

  9. Thanks very much Sharmila. I hope I don't sound too naive when I say that everyone's compliments on this post have given ME wings!

    Religion is a very personal choice. What cannot be denied is its power and ability to influence people. That is what so many politicians recognise and cynically exploit.

    I still haven't had the book published in India. It is available on Amazon and in New Zealand. My editors tell me that we need to get rid of explanations for Indian words like "chunni, Chacha" first. Useful, though they might have been for NZ and the US, such explanations are redundant for Indians :).