We’re talking about two names of the same city. A city that has gone metamorphoses like none other. From a separate group of seven islands to one of the biggest cities in the world, this city has seen it all, shown it all.
In 1782, a colonial project united all the seven islands into one, and in 1995 a political party—a parallel government—changed it to end the colonial legacy. For many, the old name is an emotion and the new name is just a city. My views are radical.
Although, I was born in Bombay, and all my certificate till college bear that name, I love to be in Mumbai more than ever. Bombay was the beginning, Mumbai is always in the work-in-progress mode. I sowed many seeds—of life—in Bombay that I am reaping in Mumbai. Many dreams I decorated in Bombay got fulfilled in Mumbai.
Bombay gave me the shelter, Mumbai gave me an independent home. Bombay gave me girlfriends, Mumbai gave me my wife. Bombay gave me the thrills of standing in a long queue at a telephone booth and talking for hours with the one rupee coins, Mumbai gave me a mobile phone. Bombay gave me parents, Mumbai took them both away.
It was in Bombay when it was considered an achievement to get phone number of a female college mate and it’s in Mumbai that women share their phone number before asking. Times have changed and so has the meaning of happiness and success—in the same city. I was a student in Bombay, I am a teacher in Mumbai, I was a reader in Bombay, I am a writer in Mumbai, I was lost in Bombay and I was found in Mumbai.
But, many many things are still the same—the deadly rush in local trains, the street food, the spirit, the traffic, the filthy roads, the stock market, the blame game, the hole on roads, the holes in the red-light area, the leaders, the blind followers, the zombie citizens, the ever decreasing green cover, the ever-increasing slums etc. So much, still the same and will be.
What’s in a name? Maybe too much or maybe nothing. But one thing is for sure that I was born in Bombay, growing up in Mumbai and who knows where will it end in? Both names are sides of the same coin. In fact, they’re not opposite but rather complementary—one completes another.