So long, Bombay; hello, Mumbai
Bombay means India -- at least to many of us remote from the dhobis doing the laundry, the tiffin wallahs bringing lunch to office workers, and the signs of elegance and destitution coexisting in the nation's center. Can we ever get used to calling the city by its new official name, Mumbai?
Mumbai is the name for Bombay in the Marathi language of the Maharashtra state of which it is the capital. In keeping with something of a trend in India -- Poona becoming Pune, for example -- the local name becomes the standard one as of the end of this month.
Think of the airline schedules that will have to be changed, with (Bombay) lingering parenthetically no doubt until a new generation has forgotten it. Think of the shipping schedules for this great port.
But we think mainly of the people, of images of them in song and story and simply the mind's eye -- all living in Bombay.m They bustle under a Manhattan skyline, more tightly packed than the Manhattanites. Yet they seem ineffably far from points west and points east, for that matter.
Bombay could never be anything except Bombay. But, but . . . Welcome, Mumbai!
The rest of the world will adjust.