A Fine Balance
"I've been asked why I keep writing about India, and specifically Bombay, even though I left 26 years ago. It remains my focus and makes it all worthwhile because of the people...their capacity for laughter, their capacity to endure."
"Perhaps my main intention in writing this novel was to look at history from the bottom up, from the point of view of people like Ishvar and Om. The dispossessed. The hungry. The homeless. [I wanted to] see what it meant to them to live during this time of The Emergency."
Rohinton Mistry: An Unflinching Look Inside Bombay
"I suppose anyone from the West landing in Bombay would first be hit by the crowds. The density of the population—14 million people in a small city and half of them living on the streets or in slums.
The next thing might perhaps be the great contract between wealth and poverty.
The problem of homelessness is worse now than in 1975, because the population has almost doubled. There must be twice as many people living on pavements, in slums and in rudimentary dwellings. People keep coming every day from villages because there is no prospect, they feel.
The street is controlled by the local gang leader who might extract some kind of token payment from a beggar or a pavement dweller. People lay claims to corners and pieces of the pavements just as they would to a sturdier dwelling.
Traffic in the streets of Bombay is chaotic at best. Riding a bicycle is a dangerous occupation. However, there are hundreds of them on the streets competing with the cars and buses and lorries because it is the poor man's mode of transport.
The train stations in Bombay are crowded. ... One needs to be physically fit to do the daily commute by train. People travel hanging out of trains, sitting on top of trains, and there are casualties every day."
About Rohinton Mistry
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