'Dongri to Dubai' by S. Hussain Zaidi, is not a new book, but I've read it only recently. Also, as a part of my 30 by 30 to-do list, I have decided to write a review of every book that I read. I have been lagging far behind in that aspect, so I thought it would be a good idea to get started. :)
'Dongri to Dubai' is the first non-fiction book that I have ever read. It is a narrative describing the beginning and growth of the Mumbai mafia and is a detailed account of the rise and fall of many a mafia leaders. But mainly it's the tale of one man who changed the face of Mumbai in spite of being far away.
It is a well researched book, of course; and the fact that the author has been a crime reporter, thereby fully informed of all the events, was an added advantage. A mere statement of facts regarding the events that transpired between the early fifties until recently would have made the narrative seem more like a newspaper report than anything else. But there are such details about the characteristics, personalities, mannerisms and personal lives of the Mumbai dons that only go to show how meticulous and thorough Zaidi has been. The author has also managed to slip in a little bit of humour in his descriptions, thus making an otherwise serious story, a little light.
To say that I was stunned by what the book revealed, would be an understatement. I was shocked beyond belief to know that a parallel world exists right under our noses, especially when the story reached the nineties because those are the days of my childhood that I remember.
The 1993 blasts are a blur in my memory, but my blood went cold when the book talked about Gulshan Kumar's murder in broad daylight in Andheri West, especially when I realised that I might have been in school that day, which wasn't that far from where he was shot dead mercilessly.
My memory was jostled again when the story recanted how Rakesh Roshan was shot at and I was able to recall one Award Function immediately after Hrithik Roshan's debut release where he mentioned after his performance, that bad people were after his family, and I somehow couldn't hold back my tears. Ignoring the fact that Hrithik is one of my favourite actors, what brought on the waterworks was how brutal and cold blooded the mafia was, the extent of menace that was created in the city and how the streets of Mumbai were rendered unsafe even for the rich and famous; especially the rich and famous.
The book has made me aware of a large part of the history of Mumbai and to some extent, I can now understand how things became the way they are; not that it has made me any happier.
The book is full of facts and interlaced with stories of many mafia leaders, stories that over-lapped at some places and made it a little confusing for me as it appeared that the chronology wasn't in order. Other than that, it's an informative and interesting read, something that every Mumbaikar should read at least once. Not for entertainment, but just to be aware of a major part of Mumbai's history.