The Last Courtesans of Bombay: Finding the Tawaifs


Sep 2, 2019


Bombay has a rich courtesan legacy, but it’s shrouded in secrecy now. In Episode 1 of our podcast series, The Last Courtesans of Bombay, our host, Kunal, tries to find a connection to this insular world.

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the last courtesans of bombay podcast series
Episode 2
the last courtesans of bombay podcast series
Episode 3
the last courtesans of bombay podcast series
Episode 4

English Translation of Episode 1: Finding the Tawaifs

Woman 1: You come here to enjoy. It is my job to make you fall in love with me. If I don’t show you love, how will you feel love for me?

Woman 2: All my family members have cut off all ties from me because I entered this industry. They said, ‘We can’t kill her because, after all, it’s the family blood. We won’t be able to kill, so let’s cut off all ties.’

Man: At 4 am, when the whistle used to blow, the music would finally stop. Till then, every house would be lit up. But now, no one comes here. People can barely recover their rents. There is no business here, how can people run shops here?

Voiceover in English.

Woman: If you sell your elegance and style, people will queue up every day in hope. The same way, some will keep hoping that Reema will give me an interview. If I hadn’t made you wait, would you have been so desperate to interview me? I made you desperate and that’s why you went back to Naseem and asked him to convince me to talk to you. If I would have given you an interview right away, you wouldn’t have valued me, would you? It’s when I made you wait that you realized that I was sending out a signal to you. That’s why you had to request me for the interview repeatedly. (Laughs)

The end.

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Written By Kunal Purohit

Kunal Purohit is an independent journalist, writing on politics, gender, development, migration and the intersections between them. He is an SOAS alumnus. He has previously written for the Hindustan Times, The Times of India, and The Wire, among other publications. He tweets at @kunalpurohit.


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