Vantage point

Monday, November 11, 2002

Mumbai, Bambai and Bombay

Me: (speaking to a friend) When I go to Bombay for my summers....
Friend From Bombay (different from the one I was speaking to) : Mumbai!!
Me: Huh?
FFB: Call it Mumbai.
Me: (already irritated due to insufficient sleep) What the $%#@ did you interrupt me for? I wasn't even talking to you.
FFB: It's name is Mumbai, don't call it Bombay. You are Marathi, you should call it Mumbai.
Me: Listen dude, I think you people have made it a bigger deal than it should be. I call it Mumbai when I am talking in Marathi and I call it Bombay when I am speaking in English, like I was right now.
FFB: Call it Mumbai.
Me: (really pissed) Okay, what is your objection to "Bombay"?
FFB: (resembling a trained parrot) It's a name the Britishers gave. The original name was Mumbai. By calling it by it's English name, you display a slave mentality.
Me: (in a placid tone which means I am max pissed off) What is the capital of India?
FFB: New Delhi
Me: Why call it Delhi, its English name? Call it Dilli as they say in Hindi.
FFB: (silent)
Me: OK, forget Delhi, let's come back to Bombay. Let's check your knowledge. Where does Shahrukh Khan live?
FFB: Bandra.
Me: Now why call it Bandra? Is that not an English name? Call it Vaandrey, its Marathi name. Now tell me, ever been to Sion?
FFB: (puzzled) Yeah.
Me: Why don't you call it Shiv, it's Marathi name? Sion is English isn't it?
FFB: Now you are just being pedantic.
Me: Oh, and interrupting me mid-sentence when I am speaking to someone else just to say "Call it Mumbai" is not pedantic?

Okay, I know its name is Mumbai now, and that's what I should call it all the time, but I also have freedom of speech, right? I am a Maharashtrian too, and I know Pu La Deshpande wrote "The real Mumbaikar never calls it Bombay, he calls it Mumbai". But if once in a while I call it Bombay, I'll be goddamned if I am going to let people interrupt me and "correct" me.

I don't go jumping on people if they call Pune as Poona. I call it Pune myself, but if someone wants to call it Poona, that's his right isn't it?

Anyway, FFB apologised for interrupting me, but insists that I call it Mumbai in the future. Seems to have some earth-shattering importance.