My Mumbai: Naresh Fernandes
Best way to spend a weekend in Mumbai
Watching flamingos in Sewri or walking in the National Park.
The non-touristy places you’d show out-of-towners
Worli Fort, Vasai Fort, the Moghul Masjid in Dongri, the Shaar Harahamim synagogue in Masjid, Dharavi (even though that’s now become a fixture on the tourist trail).
Favourite Mumbaikar, living or dead (and why)
Mahatma Gandhi. He managed to convince a city and a nation of the importance of building a broad sense of community—and actually persuaded people to join campaigns of mass action.
Favourite Mumbai book
The city has too many stories to be contained in a single book. Among my favourites: Ravan and Eddie, Maximum City, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Mumbai Fables, Midnight’s Children, Beautiful Thing, Bombay: The Cities Within, Last Man in Tower, Dangerlok, Gazetteer of Bombay Island and City, Bombay Islam, Death in Mumbai and many more.
Favourite Mumbai fictional character
Favourite Mumbai sound
The twang of the cotton fluffers.
Favourite Mumbai restaurant/street food stall
Raju’s Malvani corner, on Gokhale Road in Dadar.
Best way to spend Rs100 in Mumbai
On the kombdi vade at Raju’s Malvani corner.
To get away from the city you…
Read a book.
Favourite view of the city
From the Kaka Baptista Gardens in Mazagaon.
Favourite building or architectural structure
The tombstones of the Antop Hill cemeteries, which date back to the mid-19th century. The complex here includes a riot of scripts in graveyards for the Chinese, Armenians, Bahais and members of the Prarthna Samaj. The Jewish prostitutes’ cemetery has unfortunately been encroached. We couldn’t have a better reminder of our long commitment to multiculturalism.
What do you think of Bal Thackeray?
I try not to think about him (or his relatives).
What do you hate most about the city?
The apathy of all of us, its citizens. We’re letting our politicians and administrators get away with murdering our city, encouraged by real-estate developers.
What do you love most about the city?
Its ability to endure.
Vada pav or bhel puri?
In 10 words or less, who is Shivaji?
A feisty king who, alas, never actually visited Bombay.
Mumbai isn’t like any other city because…
It’s the only place where more than seven million people allow themselves to be packed into superdensecrushloaded trains without a complaint.