On a leafy uphill road in Mumbai’s Bandra suburb, a fire burns at a Catholic shrine. Garlands adorn a cross and statues of saints below it as pedestrians walk by wearing masks. A nondescript sign at the back of the shrine tells visitors that the cross was erected in 1897 when the city was battling another pandemic. Deserted roads, a migrant workers’ exodus, fears of the disease spreading in congested slums — the scenes that have played out in India’s financial capital over the past year with COVID-19 bear a striking resemblance to what life was like here when the bubonic plague hit the city (then known as Bombay) more than a century ago.

 

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