Beautiful Bombay- Bombay Bhel by Ken Doyle

 The Blurb Reads

Like the ubiquitous snack food, bhel puri, Bombay Bhel blends a variety of ingredients to serve up glimpses of life among the Goan and Anglo-Indian communities–minorities in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities. The interlinked stories are set in the late twentieth century, before a wave of anticolonialism crested across India and resulted in Bombay’s rechristening. 

The stories feature everyday characters who face challenges unique to Bombay life, from the schoolboy who forms an unlikely friendship with a street vendor to the retired serviceman whose livelihood is threatened by the city’s notorious bureaucracy. Readers familiar with Bombay will reawaken their memories, while those new to the city will experience a taste of its varied flavors.

I was intrigued enough with the name, but when I read the blurb, I just HAD TO ASK FOR THIS ONE!! I’ve always lived in Bombay, now Mumbai, since my birth and even though there is a lot to hate about this city, I STILL LOVE IT.

Historic Flora Fountain

Historic Flora Fountain

I started reading into the stories, small and simple. I enjoyed Ken’s different anecdotes and small stories. What it made me realise was that Bombay was a total potpourri and that makes the title of the book more perfect, Bombay Bhel. The Book is a mix of stories about different people in Mumbai. When one talks about Mumbai, there isn’t one particular topic or a direction you can talk about.

Beautiful Gateway of India

Beautiful Gateway of India

There are the extremely rich on one side, and there are people living off the street. There are people of different religions making different places of the city their home. There are different foods, lifestyles, cuisines, cultures that mingle here because there are just so many people who have come to call this place HOME.

The stories talk about people who are oft ignored in usual stories or descriptions. Food stall vendors, middle class people struggling with their lives and wondering whether they will make it large in this city. The one point which really touched me was that the stories were not overly dramatic, yet they touched at a deeper level. The people from the stories were real people who had lives with real struggles, not some made up situation. I wouldn’t exactly describe this as fiction because it encapsulates reality so well.

As a Mumbaiite, I’d recommend this book to EVERYONE I know. This book provides an opportunity to a person to explore a side of Mumbai which is not often shown. Which is overshadowed in the glitz of Bollywood and the Stress of Corporate Life. In a City where dreams are made and as easily crumbled, it is a good thing to sometimes look back and read about the people you’d not notice in your regular life but those who still, exist and call Mumbai Home.

Thousands of people flock to Mumbai. They come here with dreams and call it HOME. In a city which is so unique for its harmonious co-existence of glamour and simplicity, of money and poverty, of disease and progress, a simple look away from our own troubles, makes a good read and leaves a good aftertaste.

Stunning Victoria Terminus Station

Stunning Victoria Terminus Station

I’m not going to be a spoiler and describe the stories because that will take the fun out of them and will leave very little for you to discover. Ever thought of Mumbai as a place to visit? Do! This is one place where You’d find Opulence and Elegance, History and Progress and while we may not be the best places in the world, No place has a blend like ours, OUR VERY OWN BOMBAY BHEL.

(P.S: A beautiful Short Film which is relevant to this book, called Pardes is a recommended watch. Click  to watch the film!!)

My Rating: 4/5

Do Pick this book out for an UNUSUAL READ!!!



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