Thursday, March 26, 2009

Of Bombay and Mumbai...


  I don’t remember what I was talking about, but somewhere I said, “It’s common in Bombay and the same cannot be said about the rest of India.”

“Mumbai, not Bombay.” He corrected me.

“What?” I said.

“It’s Mumbai, not Bombay.”

I winced, chose to ignore the correction and proceeded with my argument.

I don’t know why but I’ll always call it Bombay.

No one can tell for sure where Bombay got it’s name from. Whether it was from the Koli deity “Mumba Aai” or if it was Portuguese for a good bay, Bom Bahia. For me though, it was Bombay in English, Bambai in Hindi and Mumbai in Marathi. It went smoothly with the languages.

I religiously avoid Mumbai, it’s always Bombay in my CVs, on Orkut, Facebook or any other form of correspondence. The Central Govt. in Feb 1997 realised that trade was getting affected adversely due to the name change and declared that both the forms of the name would be acceptable.By renaming the city forcefully, they (you know who, right? Or I’ll have to face libel charges!) wanted to exert their monopoly on the city. It was a taunt to the non-natives and a betrayal of the city’s cosmopolitan soul

While Bombay was  cosmopolitan, all absorbing, multi ethnic, modern, free and it revelled in it’s linguistic pluralism; ‘Mumbai’ is supposed to be a closed, xenophobic,  spite filled, regionalist Hindu-Marathi hub.


I read some where that Germans call their country Germany in English, Deutschland in German (Well, they call the German language Deutsch in German too!) and Alleland in French. Apparently, they never felt the need to rename the country as Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

What they lacked is that one visionary leader who chose to save his city from terrorists by renaming it. Pity indeed!!

2 Grumblings:

Sikander Fayyaz Khan said...

Visiting Bombay or Mumbai is now one of the things I want to do before I turn 35 (Thanks to you and Gregory), and I hope nothing would bad happen now which might delay my trip.

ayyo.... said...

Bombay!! Visit Bombay ... Gregory paints a beautiful Bombay and it's people.. I don't think anything should happen in the near future.. it was a peak they scaled.. things should only go downward from here..!

I'd love to show you around.. :)