Community: From Bombay to Mumbai, and other encounters
In section one of our 32nd anniversary special, we look back at the momentous occasions and events that have given shape to the Mumbai we know today
1995: Bombay is rechristened. Mumbai is born
Soon after the right-wing Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena comes to power in 1995, the city is rechristened as Mumbai. By 1996, Bombay University is also renamed and is now known as the University of Mumbai.
1983: Manya Surve killed in an encounter
Manya Surve becomes the first gangster to be shot in a police encounter in 1983. Julio Ribeiro, who takes over as the commissioner of Mumbai Police, advocates a tough policy against the city's gangs and their growing power.
2009: NSG hub is announced
In response to the horrifying 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008, Mumbai gets its first National Security Guard (NSG) hub of 250 commandos. The hub, along with the three other regional hubs (Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata), is expected to quicken response time in the event of an attack across Western India.
Then & Now
Deepak Rao, city historian
The Bombay I knew
When I look back at the 1980s, I realise how much friendlier the city used to be. Bombay culture has seen a dramatic change over the years. The cosmopolitanism that Bombay was known for, no longer exists. Those who have been brought up in Bombay have been exposed to its modern, cosmopolitan outlook. But those who arrive in their ’20s go through a major culture shock. In the ’80s, girls wore what they liked and no one looked at them twice.
Julio Riberio’s take over as the commissioner of Mumbai brought in good times for the city. His one-line repartees were enough to crack down on even the cockiest politician. Unfortunately, the current Mumbai Police Commisioner Satyapal Singh is moving back in time instead of charging ahead.
I remember, in the early 1980s, when prohibition loosened up tremendously, Irani Cafes began serving beer. Soon they introduced waitresses and some cafes even doubled up as dance bars.The dance bar culture peaked in the 1990s but by the 2000s, with the introduction of moral policing, the fad began dying a slow death.
Whether it is ‘ogling’ at the modern clothes girls are wearing, or sniggering at the flamboyantly dressed LGBT marchers at the Queer Parade, the open-mindedness that once existed in Bombay is no longer there.
And yes, I continue to call it Bombay. That has always been the bone of contention between the Thackerays and me. When I speak in Gujarati or Marathi, I call it Mumbai. In English, it remains Bombay. I’m glad that the Bombay Gymkhana and Bombay Natural History Society didn’t get bulldozed into changing
One of the most popular sections in MiD DAY and SUNDAY MiD DAY in the 1990s was the astrology column, written by Marjorie Orr, a British fortune teller. At the beginning of 1999, Orr’s reputation in Mumbai was at its peak.
Around the same time, her contract was being renewed with changed terms and conditions. In between, there was almost a month’s gap. This was a disaster as far as the weekly edition was concerned. Readers would not take too kindly to four consecutive weeks of non-Marjorie Orr-ness.
It was therefore left to the two juniormost members of the Sunday team to write Marjorie Orr’s column — S Ramachandran and me. For two straight Sundays, Rama and I meticulously wrote 250-word predictions for each star sign, borrowing words and sentences from Orr’s previous columns and cleverly mixing them up. And for two Sundays, not one reader noticed the fakeness of the column (which only goes to prove that you can pretty much make good money writing astrology columns).It is a secret that has stayed with me and Rama. Until now, that is.
Sachin Kalbag, Executive Editor, MiD-DAY, was with SUNDAY MiD-DAY between 1997 to 1999 as Senior Feature writer cum Sub-editor