It was certainly unknown to me that the peninsula that is currently Bombay was actually a series of seven islands about 500 years ago, of which Colaba (or Kolabhat – which means Koli estates – as the indigenous inhabitants of the islands called it) was the most Southern. Around 40 Koliwadas exist in the region today, having survived periods of Hindu colonization around the end of the 13th century, Muslim rule until the mid-16th century, foreign colonization first by the Portuguese and then by the British, and the explosive expansion of modern Mumbai. In the 17th century, Queen Elizabeth formally bestowed land tenure to the “Kolis of Dharavi”. The Queen also gifted pistols to three Koli residents — Banduk Patil, Bapuram Koli and Kuptun Mangalaya Koli — as security against pirates that used to rob fishing boats. Today, Dharavi’s Koliwada is home to around 25,000 people, with 500 landowning families and 2500 tenant households.