Seven years ago we made Mumbai our home. In the daily grind of life, I have never roamed the city like a tourist. We have always passed the monuments, people and events while rushing to reach somewhere else. It changed when while turning the pages of a book. I savoured the diverse and chaotic flavour of this bustling city.
Yes! A book made me stop and ponder over the images that I have unconsciously saved in my mind, during past few years. It played the scenes in front of my eyes like the bioscopies of our childhood. As though I was a little girl cupping the hole opened for me and peeping inside at the riot of colours with wonder filled eyes.
I came across a sensual treasure called ‘Namaste Mumbai’ written by Rachana Chandaria-Mamania and Kavita Bafna. Illustrated by Chennai based illustrator Sandhya Prabhat. It’s a story about pair of siblings and their pet tiger Teevra on a joyride through the life of Mumbai. They are so cute they almost handhold the reader for a daylong tour.
The book is delightful. Simple English words children use, written in four line rhythmic verses. The singsong journey begins in the morning from The Tajmahal Hotel.
At times the descriptions were so vivid that they made me shut my eyes and recollect the scenes I had seen too. I could almost feel the sounds, sights and tastes of each place. I realised how much beauty I had missed to see in my rush and preoccupation.
The reader old or young cannot stop turning the pages, watching breathtaking pictures pictures of historic Gateway of India, Elephanta caves, Chhtrapati Shivaji terminus, Worli sealink and many other old and new landmarks. Each is woven into an engaging tale with pleasant words. There is a series of alternating rides on boats, Kali peeli bumblebee taxis, local trains, double decker buses and even the Victoria Horse cart on the beach.
They take you to the picnic spots, beaches and parks. Show you the Mumbaikar’s love for Chai. You’ll drool and smack your lips imagining the delicious Sandwiches, Vadapav and Chuski Gola.
The jam-packed Mumbai Local makes a grand appearance in a mesmerising visual that reminded me of brilliance akin to Mario Miranda. It had men, women, children, students, Bhajiwalas and Machchhiwalis, of all sizes and faiths packed like sardines in a can.
The book wouldn’t have been complete without Ganpati Bappa, Dabbawalas and Rain. They all make an appearance to complete the picture.
After the kids roam around all day, the night falls. The book then reveals the grandeur of the queen necklace road at marine drive in the night. Better than many real life pictures I have seen. It’s awe-inspiring; I could not turn the page for two minutes.
The end has a battery of questions for kids to go back and see the details they might have missed in the first time. The fun trip evokes curiosity in the little minds and has been duly taken care of in the end. The fun part has been enriched with a fact file about Mumbai in the concluding pages.
The best part is that children will not read the book just once to keep it away. The detailing in illustrations makes them revisit the pages again and again. Each time I looked, I discovered a new aspect and marvelled at it. A great part of parenting is to provide your child an enriched environment full of experiences and fun. A book like this is the right way to wean them away from screens and digital addiction.
‘Namaste Mumbai’ is not just a children’s book, it’s a complete slice of Mumbai life travelogue that children for two to hundred years old can enjoy. It is a collector’s copy that each home library should have.
Also published at Namaste Mumbai- a bioscope experience in a book by the author.