25 June 2008

Bombay... and Bombayites ..anecdotes from down memory lane

Caution: Slangs spoken in bombay have been used.

:::Bombay ... . Just because some religious fanatics decided to rename the place as Mumbai, all over the world it is still called and known as Bombay, the New York of Asia. It is a brand. Even IIT (Bombay) refused to change its name to IIT Mumbai.

:::I have often asked people who have come to study at IIT Bombay, why did they choose it when they had other choices. For people who had come from smaller towns, Bombay was a place to have fun, to see the world by being in India. Some came as far as Jamshedpur (north india) even when they had IIT kharagpur in their neighborhood. The first impressions of a non-bombayite of bombay is its crowd and how we go past each other without an expression. The anonymity in the midst of crowds is quite intriguing to many who have come from towns where they have stayed amidst homogenous societies.

:::In many universities in the US -the indian student population is segregated on the basis of communities .(the tamil crowd were mainly people of tamil origin who were raised in tamil nadu and the bengali crowd were bengalis who were raised in west bengal ) During my days in school, a similar feature existed. But there was a group called the "bombay public ". Interestingly, only the bombay public had gujratis, marathis, mallus, punjabis, bengalis, tulu's, tamilians, kannadigas all of them raised in and around the suburbs of bombay. we did not represent any particular community but we were the "gang" from bombay. The hep, the cool, the bindas, "the loud" who did not isolate themselves into their respective community crowds - We were the bombayite's- with the bambaiya hindi and with the bambaiya attitude - who could break into a dance in the middle of the university squad or who would play impromptu cricket on a late summer evening or who would have a late night party with blaring bollywood music coupled with the English "digjig".

One night during one of our chat sessions Shanti who was raised in Madras gave a testimony to attest our brand , " we always looked to bombay for everything. the girls so confident and secure, the boys more bindas than ours. the socialization of the opposite sexes - the girls and the boys freely interacting without inhibitions is something about the bombayites that is so liberating". "Collar tight करो भाई"" ( a phrase used in bombay when they feel proud of themselves ) one other guy who belonged to bombay said on hearing this. Many illuminating columns have been written about bombayites. But my analyses among many others ( which I wouldn't want to elaborate in this post) is this : Typical Bombayite behaviours stem from the fact that bombay, like no other metropolis in india have submerged its many migrants from differents parts of the country to amalagamate into a culture of its own. We having gone to school with children from different communties have learnt to like, learn, accept, tolerate, consider and agree to disagree in a hetrogenous, diversely society. Each of us bring with us our strenghts and learn from others , the same values that our parents brought with them from the villages , only in Bombay we displayed these strengths 10 times more ... Oh yes, we hated the crowded locals - but who are the crowds ? - we ourselves, who created the dust and the grime and the pollution ? - we ourselves - the city has an energy that keeps beating 24/7 - they cannot change us with a change of a name.

:::At a ticket window in Thane railway station, I said , " दों VT (2 VT) ".The sales clerk said, "काय?(what)". she made me repeat it 3 to 4 times pretending not to understand what I said even while I was talking to her in marathi (the local language )all the time. To this the person who stood behind me in the queue said - "Ask for CST" instead of VT, otherwise the clerk is not going to give you the tickets. "

http://www.flickr.com/photos/drbalaji/127495945/ - Bombay VT - http://www.flickr.com/photos/lecercle/436338522/ - A glimpse of the crowds in Bombay
ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/wormtongue/246482707/ -Trains, the public transport used by the masses.


Sachin said...

Nice post........ u have very nicely summed up whats the essence of Bombay.......


Vinod_Sharma said...

A rose will remain just that, no matter by which name and in which language you call it.

An, much noise is being made about the renaming of Bombay by 'religious fanatics'. Everyone has conveniently forgotten that the Congress government was the first to start the renaming process, 'Indianising' the names of every single road in Lutyen's Delhi. Nobody said anything, for example, when Curzon Road was made Kastuba Gandhi Marg. Later, everyone was happy when Wellingdon Hospital was renamed Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
Connaught Place and Connaught Circus have also been renamed as Indira Chowk and Rajiv Chowk!

Had the Congress done in Mumbai what it did in Delhi, no one would have said anything. There were no communal accusations when Madras became Chennai, Trivandrum became Thiruvanatapuram, Trichur became Thrissur, Pondicherry became Puducherry, Cochin became Kochi, Palghat became Palakkad etc.

The hue and cry about the renaming in Mumbai is actually because the thunder has been stolen from a sleepy Congress by its political opponents...perhaps also because the Nehru-Gandhi family does not figure anywhere in the new names. Hyderabad airport is now Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, it is Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

So An, I am not too sure that the renaming of Bombay and VT station is due to religious fanaticism.

As I said in the beginning, notwithstanding the name, your Bombay will remain as inclusive and "Indian" as any city in India can be!

Vinod_Sharma said...

I forgot. You may not be aware, but even India's software hub, Bangalore has recently been renamed 'Bengaluru', the name by which locals have always called it. Bengaluru, like Mumbai, was a small village on which the British built the city the whole world knows as Bangalore.

Anrosh said...

hello sachin, i hope you enjoyed the post as much as i enjoyed writing it.

Vinod, - mumbai, bambai, bombay - well the shiv sainiks have come up with this time and again. when i tell people i am from bombay, they question why did they change the name and then i have to narrate the whole history - which one ? it is just like the opinion on congress and nehru - history will always be relative and subjective - isn't it.

i guess the people from bengalru, chennai did not follow in the likes of the shiv sainiks hangama - but sometime later i will write about a post when a guy from madras said that he is from "south india" and not india .

As long as india grows, and grows -these things are skirmishes, fodder for the media, an adrenalin rush, a political gimmick as you have indicated in your post.

Thank You both for stopping by.

Indian Home Maker said...

You know what is sad about this name change? That the people who changed the name are also attempting to change the culture of the city. Divisive politics and regionalism is suddenly no longer just a news to scorn in some corner of the Newspapers. Those who support this are (or seem to be supporting) very serious about it.

Anrosh said...

ihm, the people who are trying to change, have always tried to change. they may become vehemently forceful. they will have to redefine their maharashtrian manoos.

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