Wish you had stayed a bit longer, Bombay

Although The Independent's decision to not use Mumbai is childish, I share the angst on the name change.

 |  2-minute read |   12-02-2016
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So the India-born editor of The Independent, London has decided to use the word Bombay instead of Mumbai going forward. As a stand against what he said was "the closed-minded view of Hindu nationalists".

I think he is being plain petulant, because it is kind of stupid for a newspaper or a newspaper editor to go against an official name change of a city as a mark of protest, whatever may be the reasons to get to that change of name.

Having said that, as a staunch and proud Mumbaikar, I actually share his angst on changing the name of the place.

It is a simple, if not totally emotional, rationale. Which you can empathise with if you have been influenced by, lived in and lived with this lovely city. Mumbai always stood for a certain something. It was a spirited, exuberant, fearless place to be in. It was warm and inviting. It was the ever-giving, ever-forgiving city. Despite the soiled sons. It was passionate and cheerful and hardworking, pushing her people and inspiring them to do their best. Mumbai was modern and new and evolving. Or Bombay, as it was called then.

It wasn't the change of name, per se, that affected the character of the place. Or people like me. It was the act of changing the name, this mindset and the vision, which I thought went against everything that my city stood for. This was regression. This closed doors. This was confronting the present, and the past, to go back to further past. To serve what, I do not know. How would it have had any significance in the historical or socio-political-cultural lineage of the land, I cannot fathom.

Why stop at Mumbai then. The word Bombay derived from the word Mumbai. The word Mumbai came from Mumba Aai, who happened to be the patron goddess of the native communities. The word Mumba is a derivative of Maha Amba. Therefore, Mumbai is a derivative of Maha Amba Aai. Uhm. So what did the change of name - and the rather militant approach that we had to get there - achieve? We changed one derived name to go back to another derived name!

And in the process, we took a little bit of the sparkle away.

The city changed post the change of name. Not because of it, of course. This was combined with lots of other issues that the metropolis faced, all at the same time. Only, the change of name signified something larger than just a name change.

I know I am being more sentimental than logical right now. I know this is more emotional than rational. Hallmark of a true blue Mumbaikar, this, you know. And I am proud to be one.

Only, that Mumbaikar in me continues to wish Bombay had stayed just a bit longer!

Writer

Vaibhav Vishal Vaibhav Vishal @ofnosurnamefame

The writer is chief creative officer of Eros Films.

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