Quotes from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

Suketu Mehta ·  542 pages

Rating: (8.8K votes)

“And at the moment of contact, they do not know if the hand that is reaching for theirs belongs to a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Brahmin or untouchable or whether you were born in this city or arrived only this morning or whether you live in Malabar Hill or New York or Jogeshwari; whether you’re from Bombay or Mumbai or New York. All they know is that you’re trying to get to the city of gold, and that’s enough. Come on board, they say. We’ll adjust.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“A city like Bombay, like New York, that is a recent creation on the planet and does not have a substantial indigenous population, is full of restless people. Those who have come here have not been at ease somewhere else. And unlike others who may have been equally uncomfortable wherever they came from, these people got up and moved. As I have discovered, having once moved, it is difficult to stop moving.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“Each person’s life is dominated by a central event, which shapes and distorts everything that comes after it and, in retrospect, everything that came before.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“I am an exile; citizen of the country of longing.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“It is the sexual frenzy of a closed society, and the women of Golpitha are the gutters for these men's emissions.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“The stacks of pav have been sprinkled with chutney—
the top half of the inside of the bun is bathed in green chutney, the bottom with red garlic chutney—
and the assistant reaches out with one hand, in one continuous arc of his arm opening the pav, scooping up two of the vadas, one in each nest of pav, and delivering it to the hungry customer. I walk away from the stall and crush the vada by pressing down on it with the pav; little cracks appear in the crispy surface, and the vada oozes out its potato-and-pea mixture. I eat. The crispy batter, the mouthful of sweet-soft pav tempering the heat of the chutney, the spices of the vada mixture —dark with garam masala and studded with whole cloves of garlic that look like cashews—get masticated into a good mouthful, a good mouth-feel. My stomach is getting filled, and I feel I am eating something nourishing after a long spell of sobbing. Borkar has done his dharma.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“This is the true meaning of exile : some insurmountable force that keeps you from going back.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“The man who comes to fix the cable approaches her when she is alone in the house. 'Is there anything to eat?' he asks. 'There are some chapatis,' she replies. 'Can I get something to eat?' he repeats.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“It is as difficult to move down the caste ladder as it is to move up.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“A hit man's character is defined above all by narcissism, that complex mix of egotism and self-hatred.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“The gang war will never end. Because at it's core , it is not the gangsters against the police or the gangster against another. It is a young man with a Mauser against history personal and political, it is revolution one murder at a time.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“Love exposes you, makes you vulnerable and kills the personas you built on top of your true self.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“We lived in Bombay and we lived in Mumbai and sometimes, I lived in both of them at the same time.”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

“Then there was the bhaiyyani next door, who Santosh started fucking two days after she got her first period and has been fucking steadily for five years, with the threat: “If you don’t allow me to fuck you I’ll kill you.” He climbs into her window when her drunk father is away, or passed out, and rapes her. There is nothing gentle about sexuality in the slum; it is furtive and feral. Once, a group of boys was spying on a couple asleep near the door of their room; the man had a hand on one of his wife’s breasts. Santosh reached in through the opening for the letterbox and started squeezing the wife’s other breast; she slept on, thinking that her husband was squeezing both. When she felt the extra pressure on one, she woke up and screamed but was too afraid to tell her husband what had happened. Much of what a woman in the slum puts up with she endures silently, because, as Sunil points out, “How can she tell the world what has been done to her?” They go after women who are vulnerable: the very young, the children or wives of drunkards, or women not right in the head. When their men discover what’s being done to them, they too most often keep it quiet. Who would want the world to know? What does it say about their manliness, that they were unable to protect their women? I”
― Suketu Mehta, quote from Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

About the author

Suketu Mehta
Born place: Calcutta, India
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