A Rose By Any Other Name…

Last weekend was so action-packed! “Someone” said “Bombay”, the “other” wanted “Mumbai”. The “other” immediately howled, and “someone” promptly blinked; and in the bargain, all of us living in Mumbai/Bombay had our emotions and feelings trampled upon as if we didn’t matter; willing, placid, emotionless recipients of their thrusting shenanigans.
I was livid. And not knowing why just made it worse, until I expressed myself on Facebook and found that I was not alone. The majority of my friends were seething for one reason or the other, the common thread running through all arguments and comments being that both parties had happily screwed us and taken us for a jolly, rocking ride. Apart from a sense of helpless frustration at not being able to doing anything about this situation, was a significant overlay of dense cynicism. Most friends were convinced that the whole issue had been completely stage-managed so as to garner as much front-page publicity as possible, in an attempt to bolster the newly released film’s performance. Whether this was actually true or not, it shows how difficult it is for most of us to feel any kind of empathy towards people who lead public, page 3 and A-list lives, especially when they face adversarial situations, now that it is common knowledge that most of what is said and done is completely and carefully PR-managed, cultivated and controlled. We no longer trust what “these people” say or do.
Some of this anger was also directed at the posers who insist on sticking to “Bombay”, and at the slightest nudge, start lamenting about the loss of some golden pre-Mumbai era that apparently has permanently vanished after the name change. It is amazing how people can delude themselves into believing that there was actually a better Bombay in the past than Mumbai is today. I can perhaps understand if this comes from people who migrated from the city when it was still called Bombay and who now see it only through sepia-tinged glasses of nostalgia. However, when thse who still live here, say that Mumbai is no longer the Bombay they knew, it just comes across as a form of pseudo-intellectual posturing, in an attempt to cling on to an elitist “English” name that perhaps is easier for a SoBo tongue to roll out, as against the more vernacular “Mumbai” that perhaps requires a SoMu conversion, before its usage becomes intuitive.
An equal part of the anger was also aimed at those who insist on thrusting the usage of the name “Mumbai” down everyone’s throat, not missing a single opportunity to polarize the city with a combination of “lathis” and brains, while whipping up emotions among those who probably don’t understand that they are just pawns being used to further some or the other political chess move.
And through of all of this, the majority of us, who don’t care what the city is called, as long as it becomes a better place to live in, land up being sitting ducks, unwittingly caught in the crossfire. In fact, if it were to improve our infrastructure, they could as well call our city, “Timbuctoo”. Hell, they could call it “Jhumri Talaiya”, for all I care, if it also meant that we would get a city where people wouldn’t shit, piss and spit on the roads and where there would be pavements to walk on and traffic rules being observed.
As Push put it succinctly! “A bombil (I dont care if it is Bombay duck or Mumbai duck) by any other name is just as crunchy!”

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