Sampling Bombay’s Palimpsestic Pasts
Kalpana Sharma
BOMBAY BEFORE MUMBAI: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF JIM MASSELOS by Prashant Kidambi, Manjiri Kamat and Rachel Dwyer Penguin Random House India, 2019, 428 pp., 999.00
April 2021, volume 45, No 4

Bombay/Mumbai will continue to fascinate historians, sociologists, artists, writers, filmmakers and poets for years to come.  For there remains so much more to document, as is evident from the most recent addition to the collections of books on the city.

Bombay before Mumbai is an excellent collection of essays, originally presented at a conference in Mumbai in 2017 to honour the work of a pre-eminent historian of the city, Jim Masselos.  The published volume provides fresh insights into the history of Bombay.

Anyone who has researched Bombay, especially in the period before it became Mumbai, would have known of the work of Jim Masselos. In the Afterword in this collection, Masselos recounts how he first came to the city in 1961 on a Commonwealth scholarship to conduct research for his PhD at St. Xavier’s College.  He flew from Sydney to Bombay on an Air India flight with refuelling stops in Darwin, Jakarta, Singapore, Madras and finally Bombay.

Continue reading this review