The Kolis are one of the original inhabitants of Mumbai. Lost and Found in a Mumbai Koliwada by Vinitha and Kripa (The People’s Place Project) gives the reader a peek into the lives of this community, through a simple and heartwarming story. The protagonist, Meena, lives with her parents in a koliwada. Her father is a fisherman. The book follows a small event that happens one morning.
Through the story we get a glimpse of how life in a koli village is like. As Meena makes her journey across koliwada we also meet a slew of characters who are an integral part of the community. There is also a sense of the koliwada feeling like a distinct community and place, quite different from Mumbai. However, there is a feeling that the citizens of Mumbai are the ‘others’ and the inhabitants of koliwada are different. This is ironical, since the kolis are the original Mumbaikars!
This is a layered story. On one level it is a picture book telling this simple tale of a girl. However, there is a lot of information about the context of the koli community given in the book as well. Thus, it makes this picture book engaging not only for younger readers but older ones as well. I think the 3-8 year age group should resonate best with this book. Even adults will love to read the nuggets of information about the life of the kolis given in the small print.
Lost and Found in a Mumbai Koliwada by Vinitha and Kripa gives a very unique perspective on the city of Mumbai through the prism of the original inhabitants of the city. It is a simple heartwarming story about a good deed, an act of caring and solidarity with the natural world!
Look at more books that give you a unique viewpoint of a city through its people. For example, Be Careful Bappa looks at Mumbai during the Ganesh Utsav. Rain- a city through a season views the city from the lens of monsoons.