Posts Tagged ‘Mumbai’

Language and Bombay and Madras and Calcutta

August 17, 2014

During the period when Suresh Prabhu and Anant Geete were Ministers of Power in India I used to have to follow up any discussions with them about power projects with visits to the head of their party, Bal Thackeray, in Bombay. (They were in their posts as representatives of the Shiv Sena Party in the then BJP led coalition but had little freedom to act on their own. The Shiv Sena was embodied in Bal Thackeray and he always had the final word). Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena had led the very vocal, sometimes violent and parochially nationalist movement to change the name of “Bombay” to “Mumbai” in 1995. I have found all these “nationalist” movements – whether in Bombay or Madras or Calcutta or Delhi or Bangalore – to be small-minded, rooted in insecurity and representing a deeply-felt  – but real – inferiority.

On my first meeting with Bala-saheb I was given strict protocol instructions by one of his aides before being ushered into the sanctum sanctorum at Mathoshree. I was to make sure that I always referred to “Mumbai” and not to “Bombay”. At the end of the audience I was expected to end my taking leave of him with the words “Jai Maharashtra” (long live Maharashtra). I remember asking the aide then whether, if I said “Bombay”, he would not understand what I meant. As he spluttered and I entered, I remember telling him that while I had no desire to insult anybody, I used language and words and names to best communicate my meaning.

In the event, in about 6 or 7 meetings over a number of years with Bal Thackeray, I never once used the terms “Mumbai” or “Jai Maharashtra“. But I did not go out of my way to use “Bombay” excessively or to provoke. I do not recall that Bala-saheb was ever discomfited or upset at my use of language (or non-use of “Mumbai”), or that we had any difficulty in getting our messages across to each other.

I grew up with “Bombay” and it evokes for me a world of glamour and wealth but also of modernity and substance and rectitude. As a child we lived in Poona (not Pune) and travelled through Bombay regularly. Bombay was avant-garde. “Mumbai” for me conjures up an old dirty village. A picture of slums and unfinished construction and uncollected garbage and rotting mill buildings. All very subjective of course but names and language are about communicating meanings. I note that the international airport designation of Bombay remains “BOM”. Since it takes an Act of Parliament to change it, the “High Court of Bombay” remains the “High Court of Bombay” in Mumbai. The Bombay Electric Supply & Tramways Company Limited (B.E.S. & T Co.Ltd) remains BEST but the “B” now stands for “Brihanmumbai” (meaning Greater Bombay). The name of the main railway station Victoria Terminus (VT) was changed to Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus but it is still referred to by everybody as VT. “Bollywood” remains “Bollywood” and I see no moves to make that “Mullywood”. Bombay Gin would not taste the same as Mumbai Gin. Bombay duck is far superior to Mumbai duck. In the 2000’s I used to stay at a guest house on Malabar Hill. Taxi drivers know exactly what I mean when I refer to Flora Fountain or Cuffe Parade or Kemp’s Corner or Napean Sea Road. The magic of Marine Drive on a misty evening is still untouched. Bombay, Meri Jaan is still the original song with Dev Anand in the movie CID.

The politically correct name is “Mumbai” and foreigners – especially – are very concerned about being politically correct. When I use “Bombay” I have no fear of being misunderstood. And even ardent Marathi nationalists understand exactly what I mean when I say “Bombay”, and the cleverer ones (there are not many of them) may even understand that I don’t think much of their rabid parochialism.

I finished my schooling in Calcutta and my image of the city has to mirror that reality. I am not misunderstood today when I still refer to Calcutta rather than Kolkata. The Calcutta High Court is still going strong. The international airport code is still CCU. Back in 1963 the British Council Library on Theatre Road was one of my favourite haunts. The name of the road was changed to Shakespeare Sarani but when I was there earlier this year – 50 years on –  taxi drivers still referred to Theatre Road (and did not even know that there was any other name). School was on Park Street and Park Circus is just as congested as it always was. Lansdowne Road  and many others have been renamed, but the old names live on. Bangalore remains Bangalore for me and Bengaluru does not trip off my tongue very easily – if at all. In Delhi CP is the supposedly defunct Connaught Place but it is still CP and not Rajiv Gandhi Chowk. Madras airport remains MAA and the Madras High Court is now located in Chennai. Mount Road is still Mount Road and everybody knows where Parry’s corner is.

I am told that Mumbai and Chennai and Kolkata and Bengaluru are the only “correct” forms but that is just a rather empty political statement. There are no rights or wrongs with language. There are only successful communications or misunderstood ones. There is no correctness about grammar – only compliance with a prevailing usage. My point is that as with grammar so with names. Inventing words or rules of grammar – or names – is of little account if the invented terms are not used.

Maybe the old names will be forgotten in a generation or two – or maybe not. The reality of usage always trumps the desires of  “political correctness”.

Waiting for a new Tendulkar

November 20, 2013

An almost necessary requirement for anyone to be a credible successor to Tendulkar will be for him to enter into Test cricket by the age of 17 or 18 at the latest (Tendulkar joined the Indian Test team at 16).

Two years ago Arman Jaffer exploded into cricket consciousness with 498 runs for his school Rizvi Springfield in a Giles Shield match. He was only 13 at the time. He was selected this summer when he was still 14 as a probable for Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy squad.  He is still only 15 and remains on course to emulate Tendulkar’s particular brand of divinity.

ToIVeteran opener Wasim Jaffer will welcome the introduction of his 14-year-old nephew Arman Jaffer, who was included in a 30-man probables list named by the new panel of Mumbai selectors, ….. Having scored heavily in junior cricket in the past few years, Arman has already made a name for himself as a batting sensation. He slammed a record 498 for Rizvi Springfield in the Giles Shield final back in 2010, and almost broke that mark by rustling up 473 this February in the Harris Shield final at Matunga Gymkhana. This season, Arman steered the Mumbai U-16 team to the Vijay Merchant title by scoring 1046 runs with four hundreds and eight fifties — in six games. It was the first time a batsman had scored more than 1,000 runs in that tournament.

But there are others who could push Arman Jaffer hard. His record of 498 in schools cricket has already been broken, once again by the captain of Rizvi Springfield.

ToIMumbai’s under 16 and Rizvi Springfield captain Prithvi Shaw created the world record by becoming the first batsman to score 500 runs in inter school tournament. The 14 years old Prithvi achieved the milestone against St. Francis D’Assisi in the Harris Shield tournament match on Wednesday. 
Prithvi’s marathon 546 runs knock that came off 330 balls was studded with 85 fours and five sixes.The Mumbai teenager broke Armaan Jaffer’s record of 498 runs. On Tuesday, Prithvi was unbeaten on 257 to put Rizvi Springfield (Bandra) in command against St. Francis D’Assisi (Borivali).

First Post: …. Shaw has amassed 4000 runs in the last three years across the circuit — mainly in school cricket competitions. …… Shaw has already played abroad in England for the Gloucestershire second team — which is just one level below first-class cricket. ”I am a professional and when I see talent I know it. If he keeps up the work, in five years he will arguably be the best batsman in the world,” former English county cricketer and the founder JW cricket academy Julian Wood said about the teenager.

The vintage Tendulkar will be sorely missed of course – though I think he should have retired 4 or 5 years ago. But his straight driving between mid-on and cover came straight from heaven. But there is new talent making itself known. Jaffer and Shaw will be names to watch and I am quite sure they will not be without rivals.

For all schoolboy cricketers it will be a worthy ambition to try and follow in Sachin Tendulkar’s footsteps. But to actually succeed Sachin will not be easy and it may never happen.

Arman Jaffer – a successor to Tendulkar?

December 23, 2010

From the Mumbai Mirror:

Arman Jaffer: image Mumbai Mirror

Arman Jaffer etched his name in the record books by scoring an incredible 498 runs against IES Raje Shivaji in the Giles Shield. The youngster, who plays for Rizvi Springfield, helped his team reach 800 for eight in the process but yesterday was all about him as he became the holder of the highest individual score in Mumbai schools cricket. The ease with which the 13-year-old batted revealed an instinct that cannot be coached. Perhaps the fact that he is former India opener Wasim Jaffer’s nephew has started to show. The Rizvi batsman broke his teammate Sarfaraz Khan’s record of 439 runs which was recorded in last year’s Harris Shield.


Sachin Tendulkar started his phenomenal Test career at the age of 16, so Arman has another 3 years to emulate his hero and get into the Indian Test team.

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