Monday, October 27, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan!

I studied ‘Unity in Diversity’ as one of the key factors which makes India such a special and unique country. And it’s only now that I realize what a sham it was. Where is this damn unity? Aha…maybe in Mumbai. It was always the epitome of Cosmopolitism, not Delhi, not Calcutta and certainly not Chennai. And I guess it was another sham, a pretense and the mask is now coming off finally. Thank God for that. We live with so many masks around that it’s nice to see at least someplace which is without one. So what if I don’t agree with what I see behind the mask and it breaks my heart and shakes my faith in our Indian Union itself. At least the cat is out of the bag, at least there is some truth there. I saw a TV show last night and almost every Marathi (right from a student to an aged housewife) agreed with Raj of MNS fame. Most denounced the means (violence, for instance), but almost everyone again attributed it an expression of pent up feelings (which to many justified it all). It sounded so much like the Ahmedabad violence rhetoric or the Delhi Sikh riots when Rajiv made his rather infamous statement. Oh why just the audience, even one of my classmates once said that there is some merit in what Raj says. And maybe there is, considering the fact that so many support it. Of course, in a Democracy, majority wins! 

One interesting statement from the show - ‘Those who stay in Mumbai should learn and speak in Marathi’. Why the hell? Why should anyone be forced to learn language? And to show what? I have never lived in my home state and I don’t even know what language is my mother tongue. Is it Hindi that I learned in School or is it Kumaoni, which is just a dialect but vastly different from Hindi. I’ve lived in Gujarat for many years and my Gujarati is, at best, pathetic. Does that mean that tomorrow I may just be branded unwelcome in the state? What the hell happened to India? Wasn’t I a part of this ‘great’ country and had right to move around freely and seek jobs anywhere and live anywhere? Why do I have to now prove my love and affection and respect for a Maharashtra, or a Gujarat apart from showing it for India as well. Cant I just be an Indian? What the hell happened to the so-called concept of ‘Unity in Diversity’? What if I don’t want to learn Marathi or celebrate their festivals or talk to my Marathi neighbours? What if I talk only in Hindi and celebrate only my North-Indian festivals? I feel rather scared that I may end up getting beaten up somewhere in our dear old Mumbai if I do this. 

As the saying goes, ‘Little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. Maybe I am also one of those who know little and try to talk big. I have so many friends from Maharashtra and I love them all, but it has nothing to do with the fact that they are Marathis. I just don’t care who they are, they are good people and that’s all that matters. They can even be from Germany or Jamaica. Who cares? I think many people do, and to me that’s scary and very unfortunate.

Few more thoughts on this by others:


  1. Sid... I wish we had some control over the authority which takes off these so called masks and mostly just changes them!!!! A balloon never makes noise when it's being inflated... it makes noise only when it bursts.... Who does inflate it? and why?

  2. may be u will have to copy paste the URL in addresbar to link..

  3. Bombay was never a Marathi city - it began as a British (trade) project! (So were Calcutta and Madras)

    Marathi 'asmita' cannot be saved by refusing to share borrowed spoils.

  4. I guess you are right Arun but it may not go down well with many...

    After all, it no longer remains Bombay also...a few few started the process by changing the name and now they even want to change the character of the city. The process seems irreversible and the results sad!

  5. absolutely, bombay was and will always be a trade project in some or the other scale... for an individual or even a nation..
    I guess, the two different needs are being wrongly mixed and misused for benefit of few groups and largely for politics.
    The need for saving 'marathi asmita' can better fulfilled through promotion of rich marathi literature, plays and other forms of art which are on the verge of being extinct.
    The other need, the reason for the reluctance to share the 'borowed spoils' is a different and equally important issue... Yes these both things are interlinked but not the way they are shown to be!

  6. Maybe it's true. Maybe it starts with changing the name.. I know, the names we are used to might sound "firangi" but as long as we are comfortable with them and are secure about who we are, why do we need to change them? Bangalore became Bengaluru... what's the point? Nothing changed. I sometimes still feel unwelcome in the city, maybe because I am a North Indian; maybe because I am a woman.. I don't know... Maybe its just Bangalore. It is the way it is. The distorted minds are in our own cities, every city.
    The question is,just how many thousands of pieces can we break this country in?!

  7. I still prefer Victoria Terminus (or VT) over CST. How was shivaji ever associated with VT when it was made by the BRits to connect the different states under their rule. And equally sad is renaming Connaught Place as Rajiv Chowk. And there has been a talk about renaming Ahmedabad for so long...

    Anyway I guess its still better than extreme regionalism that so many of us show. Kill, destroy and burn seems to be the magic mantra, not for India but India itself. Such a loss of faith for these so called 'Nationalist parties'...


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