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Though inhabited by natives since about the Stone Age, the first people to permanently settle in the area of Mumbai were Portugese explorers in the 17th Century, who also established temporary missions to convert the indiginous peoples to Christianity.
Today, Mumbai is known for its distinct lines between the rich and poor, its opportunity, wealth, contrasting slums, cuisine, economy, wide array of cultures, architecture and city skyline, and as the location of Bollywood.
People Born in Mumbai
Mumbai in People's Lives
Rudyard Kipling: I was born here in 1865, the first child of two bright, fascinating people. My father was an Architecture Professor, sculptor, and museum curator, and my mother was a member of an illustrious family known for her intelligence and vivacity. I was named after the town of Rudyard, Staffordshire, England, which was where my parents had met and courted two years earlier. The place had made such a beautiful impression upon them, they bestowed its name upon me. This city, and India, made a strong and lifelong impression upon me, though I moved away with my parents in 1870, when I was only 5 years old. For the rest of my life, I listed and identified myself as an "Anglo-Indian," and India appears quite often in many of my books. Some of my fondest memories were of my ayah singing to me in Hindi, a language that I loved and "thought and dreamed in." I grew up listening, transfixed, to tales from Indian folklore. Later, I would write of Mumbai: "Mother of Cities to me, for I was born in her gate, between the palms and the sea, where the world-end steamers wait." During my time in England, I fiercely missed this city and my happiness here, and themes of longing for one's home, homesickness, and a sense of cultural displacement featured prominently in many of my future books. I was overjoyed to return to India in 1882, sailing in September and landing, perfectly, back in this city on my birthday, October 18th. I was sixteen years old, and felt like a man returning from exile. Walking back through the streets, smelling the familiar and yet exotic smells, hearing the street sounds, and tasting the Indian dust in my mouth was one of the most inspiring few hours of my life, and I was deeply moved. I would later say that in those few hours, "my English years fell away." Nor did they ever return, and so my parent's plan to make me a proper Englishman in childhood had failed. Upon returning to my parent's house, my mother was scandalized by my full beard, which made me look far older than the young teenage boy that I was. Not taking no for an answer, she promptly shaved it off. I was so happy to be back in India, I didn't even mind. I spent a few days visiting in this city before making the four-day rail journey to Lahore, where I had gotten a job at a newspaper.