2. The People

The people of Bombay dress in strange and diverse styles, follow diverse customs, display adventurousness and leadership in business, show a readiness to participate in public affairs with genuine feeling and concern and a will to be always one step ahead to lead the way. These qualities create an instant impression of a people who are restless, aware and industrious. If you look for reasons for these qualities then the first is that, compared to the people in the north who had grown weary with suffering under the continuous invasions of Muslims and other alien powers to the extent that, not only did they face hardships but were never sure of their life, the people in this western region have had to face no such problems. That is one reason. The second is that, from the day this city has come under the rule of our kind British government, peace has reigned, allowing it to prosper more and more every day. In our opinion the second is the stronger reason. If you look around today, you see a Bombay that is drenched in anglicisation. This is not only because a maximum number of English people live in this city, but because most people have partaken of English education. Like the English who have grown accustomed to attending public meetings in their country, so too have they become a part of our people’s lives here. The feats that our people have achieved with their pens and their desire to excel in public oratory are worthy of praise. Admittedly, there are occasions when these efforts become risible; but in the balance, their positive value outweighs the negative.  The reason is as follows. The minute a news item is published, whether in an English or a native newspaper, off we go instantly examining it for its truth or falsehood. Both sides place their constructive-destructive opinions before the world and the issue is so torn to shreds that every shade of opinion is exposed and in the process the precision of language improves and space is opened up for people to decide which is the true and which the false opinion. This is not a small advantage. It is no mean thing for people of the world to admire and idealise the educated inhabitants of this highly educated city. Sir Grant Duff says, “Just as at the beginning of the Christian era Alexandria was considered a great city, in the same way today Bombay is considered a great city in the Asian continent. And as its virtues, as mentioned above, grow stronger, this city is becoming an increasingly more entertaining and fascinating place.” This is absolutely true. Why only Sir Grant Duff? Even a man of meaner intelligence is astounded when he sees the splendour of this city. Merely seeing the crowd on the streets, as he walks around, fills his mind with wonder. The minute he steps out, his sight is struck by splendid temples and tall buildings of every hue -- green, yellow, red and blue. When he enters a temple, he hears a peal of bells rung by devotees as though calling upon god to lend his ears to their prayers. Some shout out loud, “Shambho Har Har Mahadeo.” Others are lost in prostration before the deity and some are deeply absorbed in their muttered prayers. Experiencing such a variety of sights and sounds, when the man moves on, his eyes immediately fall on a mosque. Entering it, he sees hundreds of Muslim devotees. Some sit facing qiblah doing namaz; some are washing their feet in a pond; some are busy reciting their tasbih with beads; some are calling out “Ya Allah”; some are sitting in quiet meditation and some are reading the Quran.

Moving on from there, the man walks further only to see a Parsi Agyari. He sees dozens of Parsis there, engaged in various forms of prayer. Some are reading their holy book; some are hailing the sun; some are sprinkling sea water on themselves and some are engaged in doing the kasti ritual. Needless to say, the viewer is not only struck by wonder but also feels great joy upon seeing such a diversity of sights.