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How to Write about Mumbai…

If you have seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, you know what Mumbai is like, so be smart and never ever ask your reader to see the movie. Why, what’s the point of spending all those hours reading your book, when a 3 hour visual alternative has been provided? So never ever suggest that alternative. Ever.
Now, make it your aim to demolish the evil picture that movies like Slumdog Millionaire have created in minds of those who even dare to think of Mumbai as a safe place. For this, you should start with the title itself. The ever-green name that Mumbai has been bestowed upon is ‘Bombay’; you could combine this with words like ‘lights’, ‘metropolitan’, ‘British’, ‘island’, ‘bomb-blasts’ or ‘diversity’. You could go with these options or invent something original like ‘The Island of Dreams’.
Once you have established a suitable title for your work, work on your cover page. Assuming that you do want to demolish the evil picture, it would be a good idea to discover your options in the magnanimous side of Mumbai. Naturally, the Taj or Renaissance could feature in there. You could put in Marine Lines i.e. the Queen’s necklace or the Bandra-Worli Sea-link; it’s always a hit with the crowds! You could publish a sepia picture of Victoria Terminus (the now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) or maybe, the Gateway of India. If you want to establish the evil picture then you sure could go on and take highly emotional photographs of naked malnutrition-bodied kids from the slums, or some old man pulling heavy loads on a wooden cart. The world famous Dhobhi Ghat with women and young lads washing clothes would also be quite picturesque. But you know what they say; a balance of extremes is the best deal, right? So maybe you could take a picture of beggars starving outside a temple, or a person smashed by a shining SUV.
You could follow the ‘balance’ rule in your writing as well. You must use an enigmatic tone throughout the book, as if revealing deep secrets that you have come to know after living in Mumbai your entire lifetime. Remember, you are a treasure trove of secrets and scandals waiting to come into the limelight. How you came in confidence of these secrets is a story of no significance what so ever; don’t even hint at it.
You see, the glory of a place comes with its history; never ever forget how the British have done a huge favour to India by building India’s first train station. Remember, never mention how doing this majorly benefitted the British as well (read as, only). What you should elaborate about though, is how grateful Indians and Mumbai citizens are to the British. After all, they would have been lost to the entire world in the sands of time if not for the British. This is what your readers will like to read about, not how self-sufficient Mumbai is, and how it is (quite gloriously) the commercial capital of India.
The readers will be looking forward to details about the tourist spots and tips on warding off the swindling cheats on the streets. So concentrate on that (maybe you can give your personal experience anecdotes). You have to make sure that you don’t deviate from your topic- Mumbai- and make your book a tourist guide instead. To be able to avoid this deviation, your book should include an obvious feature that tourist guides don’t have- humans. Well, it’s quite obvious that you won’t be describing the people but their lives. You must remember to include the ‘balance’ quotient in this aspect of your book.
Describe how the people living in Dharavi (the biggest slum in the world) are thin, dark and suffer from malnutrition. It is a must to describe a scene where a woman is beaten up by her crazy, raging, drunken husband. You could describe in intimate detail about how her body has turned black-and-blue rendering her disabled. You must appreciate her determination though, and tell your readers how she continued to do her household work and took care of her children. Maybe you could make the sight more pitiful by adding the children to the beating scene. You should describe how the children were crying and whimpering in the corner and then themselves got a beating for making even the slightest of noises. The food they eat is burnt and insufficient while the clothes they wear haven’t felt a soap bar for a century. The bare furniture in the house is sold off by the husband for liquor and their neighbourhood has an open gutter overflowing. And yet, these people wake up every day in hope of a new beginning, a new change and a new start.
In contrast to this scene, give a vivid description of the lavish lifestyles of the Bollywood actors and actresses. You should give a description of what Bollywood is; after all not everyone spends their lives studying the lifestyles in Mumbai. Your readers will be extremely interested in the lives of these famous personalities. After all, who cares about the poor people in Dharavi? Bollywood actors and actresses have the entire paparazzi running behind their lives, so why should your readers be any less? Remember, you are a treasure trove of secrets and have special insights about their lives. However, don’t make up stuff with absolutely no proof. If your subject was to read the book, then he could sue you for defamation. You are absolutely free to give juicy insights in their personal lives and political scandals though. After all, that’s what makes them so glamorous and loved by the public.
After covering these absolutely important topics about Mumbai, go on to tell them how Mumbai is a magical place of dreams, hopes and new beginnings; how every person has a shot at being who they want to be and a person is judged according to the hard work he puts in. Describe in your own words, the importance of the existence of a city like Mumbai and what we would miss out (culturally and otherwise) in the world if not for Mumbai.
Before closing the curtains on the magnificent image of Mumbai, remember to compulsorily add a few things about Bal Thackeray and Raj Thackeray. After all, what is Mumbai without their guidance and supremacy?

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YouTuber, Blogger, Rotaractor, Mountaineer, Writer, Crazy, Whovian

2 thoughts on “How to Write about Mumbai…

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