Sitting off the coast of the subcontinent, Mumbai (formerly Bombay) has always had one foot in India and the other in the wider world. Built atop a manmade island, the pith-helmeted imperialists of the British Raj hoped this teeming pinnacle of modernity abuzz with trains and ships and goods from all over the world would awe their Indian subjects into submission.

Instead, the metropolis birthed the modern people who rebuilt their city as an Art Deco wonder to rival Miami Beach and overthrew the Raj. In our own time, as the city reengages with the global economy while groaning under the inefficiencies of the world’s most crowded and cacophonous democracy, the eyes of the world are again on Mumbai.

A vision of our global future for good or ill, the stakes in contemporary Mumbai couldn’t be higher.