Mumbai, also known by its former name Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fifth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2009, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South,West or Central Asia.
The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Bombay was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook reclamation of the area between the seven islands from the sea. Along with construction of major roads and railways, the reclamation project, completed in 1845, transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. Bombay in the 19th century was characterized by economic and educational development. During the early 20th century it became a strong base for the Indian independence movement. Upon India’s independence in 1947 the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as the capital. The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996.
Our family links with Bombay go back to the beginning of the 20th century. My grandparents were married in Bombay in 1915. In WWII, my father served as an Intelligence Officer in Bombay. My contribution was to lecture a group of bankers as part of a 9 day round the world trip.
A favourite place of mine is the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat) is a well known open air laundromat in Mumbai. The washers, locally known as Dhobis, work in the open to wash the clothes from Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals.