BRING BACK BOMBAY
A lot has already been said on the matter of Mumbai’s post-26/11 reconstruction, and people are rising up en masse to facilitate constructive and collective action towards genuine and permanent self-improvement.
I have a simple suggestion. Let’s bring back Bombay.
Not metaphorically nor emotionally, but literally. Let’s dispose of the moniker ‘Mumbai’ and all the baggage that it comes with – the divisiveness practiced by the evil political opportunists to whom we gifted the keys of our city, the impotent cynicism of the elite who did nothing to stop our slide, the deterioration of every one of our once proud institutions at the hands of rabid corruption.
Let’s give ourselves a fresh start – both by breaking with the past AND by invoking the nostalgia to which we are increasingly turning. The Bombay of my youth, even if it is only a trick of my memory, was a place where there was universal respect for human life and civil liberties as well as an understanding of the responsibilities which this social contract demanded, a place where a sense of belonging created a superconsciousness which translated into collective thought and action and defeated chauvinism; most of all – a place where the defining attitude (sab chalta hai) meant equal opportunity, not defeatism.
Mumbai is the version of that dream which we sold down the river.
We’re searching desperately for a symbol to move us out of the darkness. The rebirth of Bombay can be our messiah and message – provoking us into constant action, casting aside prior encumbrances and silent consent, defeating the bleak mistrust and monumental apathy that exists – it happened in Sarajevo, New York, and Beirut. It can happen here.
Rather than pander to those who would accuse me of elitism and tokenism, I would like to spell out a simple charter for this transformation (or rather reconstruction):
We, the new citizens of Bombay, pledge to begin once more to respect our neighbors, care for our ecosystem, create and obey rules, vote for and trust our leaders, speak up when the situation calls for it and never forget. We choose to reclaim our humanity.