‘People Called Mumbai’ anthology is an ode to Mumbai city

Mumbaigloss recently spoke to author Nisha Nair Gupta about her book ‘People Called Mumbai’. The book has 55 stories of real-life people which depict the spirit of Mumbai. The stories come from different backgrounds and stratus of the city. A prostitute of Kamathipura,  the kumbhar from Kumbharwad, the Victoria ride owner outside Tajmahal hotel and many others have shared their stories with the author. Nisha is a well-known interior designer who also loves to play with words. Let’s find out how did she pull through such an ambitious project with the help of 10 design students.

People Called Mumbai author

MG: Nisha you have a creative mind as you are into desgining homes but when did you realise that literary bug had bitten you and you wanted to write/curate a book?

NNG: A lot of times I feel writing is like designing, there is concept or idea needed, both need to be structured and both need to be creatively approached. I began writing as a student, because often writing helped me engage with my topics intimately, than just thinking or making presentations. Later, after my bachelors in architecture, I decided to take up a post graduation in humanities and writing. As a student I worked part time with Times Of India, Ahmedabad where I covered the culture beat. By the end of it, I was writing about architecture and clearly knew that I had developed two loves – writing and designing. And I would have a practice where I could also generate meaningful writing/content in architecture.

Author and architect Nisha Nair Gupta

Author and architect Nisha Nair Gupta

MG: This is a pretty interesting combination – writing and designing but why did you plan to write a book on the lives of people in Mumbai?

NNG: The idea began that often as practitioners of built environment, we are so disconnected with our contexts, that it implies on the kind of buildings we see around us. Being sensitised to your contexts is important. Probably the first step is to begin with studying our city. And what would have been a better way to know our city than through the lens or the stories of people who create through their lives and living, the city we all know and inhabit.

MG: Hmm. Ok but these are real-life stories. Why did you choose to write it? Do you prefer non-fiction?

NNG: The amazing  people we have met and their beautiful stories have greatly sensitized us to our city. It has moved us, inspired us and also made us believe in the individual strength of humanity often. Being an open ended text, we hope our readers will have their own observations to gather. These stories will appeal to both fiction and non-fiction readers alike. After all, not every story has a fairytale ending.

People Called Mumbai

MG: I agree. There were 10 design students who helped you to collect these stories. What was the purpose of involving them in this process?

NNG: For a project of this nature and ambition it was important to build a team. The team comprised of recently graduated architects and interns. After undergoing writing workshops, the team traveled across the socio-geographic cross section of the city to collect a diorama of stories that could represent the city. The exercise lasted over three months and we collected over 85 stories of which finally 55 made it to the final print.

MG: Oh wow! That is an impressive count. Any future plans of writing more books? If yes, will it be again realistic or fictional.

NNG: We want to explore this project in another city and see what stories the other cities have to offer us. Probably Bangalore or Delhi; or cities like Ahmedabad or Gwalior.

Thank you Nisha for sharing details about this book and we wish you very best for your future endeavors. Your book seems to have something for both fiction or non-fiction lovers as you have documented real-life accounts of every day people in Mumbai. It is on my reading list for sure.

Do give it a try ardent readers. I am sure you will gain a lot of insight into the lives of Mumbaikars. The book is available here.

About MumbaiGloss

Parimita Chakravorty is an author, blogger, features writer and a communications specialist. She has written for various popular magazines and websites related to beauty, fashion, jewellery and lifestyle, including HAIR India, Femina.in, BeBeautiful.in, Hello, etc. She has also contributed to various youth blogs and magazines. Her book ‘Look Stunning At Any Size’ has been well appreciated and received by the readers. Currently, she is part of India’s leading IT brand and takes care of their internal communications. Parimita is also working towards bringing awareness about Endometriosis in India; a silent epidemic which is consuming a lot of lives. She manages a page ‘Endometriosis India Files’ where patients discuss their condition and diagnosis.
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