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Response: Stars before the eyes

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Byculla to Bangkok by S. Hussain Zaidi

Byculla to Bangkok by S. Hussain Zaidi 

The first remark

I am unable to connect the contents with the title of the work.

About the Content

However, this work is not merely a journalist work which is depicted more in the first instalment with the heading Dongri to Dubai. This work is made to look like a research work wherein the author works like an academician. In the source sections, Zaidi has given the primary sources. The primary sources are such which qualify the definition of the term in the academic circle. They are the court records, police records and the statements of the main characters which were recorded as per the legal rules. It includes the “Personal Interviews” with the major characters who formed the underworld thus qualify another definition of the research method. However, he has not provided the questionnaire. He had fused the contents of his interviews with the content of the whole work. He has used the services of many other participants in the research and gives them the full credit in the source section and the illustrations which he has used as the displays in the book. There are some exclusive photographs. 

The writer has also used the reports and opinion of his fellow colleagues with different newsmedia. He has used their ideas to build the body of his book.

Zaidi has used the academic works and eyewitness account and oral history. In case of developing the setting of Girangaon, these features are quite apparent. The Chapter 3, Girangaon: The Village of Mills is virtually a lecture in the introduction of the economic history. He has tried to give the historical analysis since the Queen's Proclamation. It reads like a lecture by a professor on the mercantilist period of Colonial India and rise of the Indian Capitalists under the Colonial rule. The writer has used an oral history of an eyewitness who had himself seen the changing skyline of Girangaon. It could be authenticated from the municipal records if attempt is made and the documents survives in the offices.

It is challenging to sustain the attention in the book as with every new chapter a new episode opens. Many readers probably will not able to make out any sense in some chapters which are actually the repetition of the chapters which are already written in Dongri to Dubai. There are many characters starting from Gawli, to Amar and Ashwin Nair to Shiv Sena people to the leaders of Mill workers to Dr Datta Samant to the encounter specialists like Salaskar, Pardeep Sharma et al., to the killing of Khatau, to Bollywood related episodes that it is difficult to sustain the attention. There are episodes about Bangkok but the attack on Chotta Rajan is not written again as it has already been done in Dongri to Dubai. The book is more about happenings in Mumbai. If there is an episode in Thailand and then there is a full-fledged episode in Dubai. The writer should have called this work as  "Anno Domini of Mumbai Manush" in place of calling it Byculla to Bangkok.

One of the surprising things is that the writer has claimed it as a sequel to the Dongri to Dubai. Dongri to Dubai was published by Roli Books and contains a forward by an established writer. This book does not include any forward. Secondly, this book was published by HarperCollins India in 2014. The publisher certifcate is at the end of the book. It is seen for the first time by the blogger. The earlier book by Roli books was published in 2012.

Another feature is the peculiar use of terms, verbs, adjectives and phrases. The writer has tried to use the expression of native English speaker.

The book is full of information which is probably not available in academic texts. It demonstrates that the academicians, especially from the field of history, should include the crime in society as part social features of their scholarly works.

While rating this book, I will like to give 3 out of 5 stars. On the scale of 10, I will give 5. But, I will strongly recommend it for reading especially for the people from academics. One can appreciate its contents more if Dongri to Dubai by the same author, is read before it. 

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