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Aapli Mumbai!

For the benefit of my non-Marathi speaking brethren, let me translate the title. It means: Our Mumbai.

But what is peculiar is the word “Aapli” as opposed to the more conventional “Aamchi” in the usual phrase. “Aamchi Mumbai” is the loving phrase used by Maharashtrians in general, and Mumbaikars in particular, to refer to their beloved city, the economic capital of the country, Mumbai. Now, translated into English, both these epithets would translate to “Our Mumbai” but in Marathi they have very different connotations. In Marathi, “aapli” translates to “our” in the global sense whereas “aamchi” translates to “our” as different from “you”. Ok now I know most of you would have lost me there. What I’m trying to say is that when you say “Amchi Mumbai” to someone you are basically saying Mumbai belongs to a group of people that you are not a part of. Now that to me sounds pretty familiar to what a certain Mr. Thackeray has been bawling about for decades now – Mumbai for Mumbaikars! The war cry which has now been taken up again by his nephew is not the first time somebody has tried to drive non-Maharashtrians out of the metropolis. While his uncle tried to chase away our brothers from the South, Raj Thackeray has now taken it upon himself to chase away natives from UP and Bihar out of Mumbai.

My point being, that from quite some time ago even the common man on the road has been referring to Mumbai as “Aamchi Mumbai”. What the Thackeray duo has done is articulate it more vividly. I, of course, do not endorse their views. Recently, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance under the auspices of Shiv Sena Executive President, Uddhav Thackeray, declared that, if voted to power in the State Legislative Assembly elections, they would implement an influx control system complete with entry permit into Mumbai. I thank God for making the Congress coalition thump the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition in the elections. In spite of them having policies which hand out admission seats and electricity to the “under privileged”, at least the Congress is not prone to chasing out Indians of a particular origin from any part of the country. It is highly disappointing that people in our beloved country have stooped to such levels where they chase each other out of “their” areas forgetting, in the process, that first and foremost we all are Indians. This territorial nature seriously has me intrigued. What are we, animals? Might as well start rubbing up and urinating against trees and fixtures then to mark our territories like cats and dogs do!

Although I was born and brought up in Pune, I learnt Marathi while in my first semester of engineering by listening to my Maharashtrian batchmates talking in Marathi. As I picked up the language, I would often use the words “aamchi” and “aapli” interchangeably to the utter amusement of the aforementioned batchmates who hardly spared a chance to ridicule me for the same. You should however understand my confusion in the light that my mother tongue is Hindi and the blessed language has only one word for our – “hamara”. So we have “hamara Desh” (and of course, Hamara Bajaj!). Why can’t things be so simple? It is obvious that the citizens are of a territorial disposition. Then why not foster the idea of territory to encompass the whole country rather than singular states? It would definitely deter our ever-ebullient neighbours from arbitrarily deciding that a part of our country actually belongs to them and it is a good idea to walk in and walk out with it. Moreover in the true spirit of the country’s Constitution, it would be India for Indians and not Maharashtra for Maharashtrians or Mumbai for Mumbaikars!

I am leaving this post uncharacteristically short since if these few words cannot convey the idea then no more words can help. Here’s to “Hamara India” and “Aapli Mumbai”!

Categories: Random Stuff
  1. abhishekparab
    14 April 2010 at 13:41 IST

    Might as well start rubbing up and urinating against trees and fixtures then to mark our territories like cats and dogs do!

    LOL.. Yes! My digicam is ready!!

    • Siddharth
      14 April 2010 at 13:47 IST

      Gay fella! 😛

  2. Nikhil
    14 April 2010 at 17:45 IST

    skssss. Nice one.

    • Siddharth
      14 April 2010 at 18:03 IST

      Thanks Nikhil 🙂

  3. 14 April 2010 at 19:42 IST

    That awas well put, Siddharth. Actually things would have been better had they not divided the country on the basis of language. they could have found other parameters for the division, right?
    and given our penchant for ghettoising, it is little wonder that we are what we are now — trying to mark our territories as you so graphically put it!! Good post. and here is to Aapla India!

    • Siddharth
      15 April 2010 at 02:41 IST

      The only advantage of division I see is ease of governance and administration. Otherwise, I don’t see any advantage in dividing up the country into areas on an arbitrary basis.

  4. Maa
    14 April 2010 at 20:39 IST

    Great piece! You have worded the thoughts of most Indians, including Maharashtrians n Mumbaikars. Proud of you!

    • Siddharth
      15 April 2010 at 02:38 IST

      I know you are always proud of ur kids, Maa 😉

  5. 20 April 2010 at 14:35 IST

    wow…that’s an interesting take…aapli versus amchi…Like CB said above i wish they had found some other way of governing us rather than on the basis of language…it’s so sad to seeing mumbai being held hostage to the tigers! Lord grant them sense!

    • Siddharth
      20 April 2010 at 14:40 IST

      its not only Mumbai but the whole of the country actually… we have become Bengalis and Maharashtrians (and Mumbaikars) and Biharis… forgetting in the process that at the end of the day we are all INDIANS!

  6. Sheetal
    14 May 2010 at 12:32 IST

    Nicely done Sid! and true story. For someone who grew up in Bombay and loves every bit of it, flaws included, it pains me beyond explanation to see what some people are doing to it. The Thackerays can be blamed only so much.. whats sad is the number of people who seem to be buying what theyre selling.
    Which is why it will always be Bombay to me. Mumbai is a different city altogether.

    Interesting how we treat each other horribly in all xenophobistic glory, but are genuinely shocked when the same thing happens to an Indian in an Australia…

    • 14 May 2010 at 12:37 IST

      I actually wanted to rope in the Australia angle but felt it would deviate from the point of the post so I let it be…

  7. Shashank
    4 August 2010 at 12:25 IST

    Looking at the first response I must appreciate your commitment to the freedom of expression. It is a usual tendency to delete unfavorable opinions and keep only those which are in support.

    In my opinion, Hindi is not as simple as you claim it to be. I think:
    आमची (Marathi) = हमारी (Hindi)
    आपली (Marathi) = अपनी (Hindi)
    Please think about the following 2 examples:
    आज आप हमारे घर रात का खाना खाइए!
    चलो अपने कॉलेज चलते हैं|
    The first sentence is exclusive and the second is inclusive, so to speak. Thus “aamchi Mumbai”, “hamara Bajaj” are exclusive and “aapla Bharat” “apna India” are inclusive. I will consult someone who knows Hindi better and will get back to you on this. Let me know if you find a mistake in my interpretation. My current opinion is that, the blandness of the English language is the reason why one is unable to express the sentiment “Aamchi Mumbai” in English perfectly; rather than the equivalent words being totally absent in Hindi.

    Technicalities aside, I support a few point points on both sides and oppose a few on both sides too. My viewpoint is that people of all regions should be equal (in a civic sense) and therefore all languages should be treated equally.

    Thus changing the official names of cities and places, through legislative procedures, is the thing I support. What I do oppose is the use of force to hinder free speech. Thus a political system can and should alter only the official name. What the people, in their individual capacities want to call a city or a place, is entirely up to them.

    I am also of the viewpoint that any Indian should be free to visit any part of India as permissible within law. But citizens engaged in illegal activities should be undoubtedly incarcerated. Political parties which help illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to settle in Mumbai, just so that they can garner more votes, are relatively more evil, in my reference.

    I must applaud that you were able to learn Marathi while staying in the hostel. I am ignorant of any other Hostelite who has been able to learn Marathi from the 7 VNIT batches that I have seen.

    It is sad that the usage of Marathi is on decline in the cities of Maharashtra. It is natural that the Marathi are trying to stop this decline and I do support all such efforts which lie within the bounds of legality.

    My feelings are not limited to Marathi alone. It also hurts me that the usage of Hindi is on decline. Quite a few of my friends prefer to communicate in English, even when they know Hindi. Those who have experienced this might be able understand a few of the Marathi sentiments.

    Protecting Marathi in Maharashtra or Hindi in India might not be a political necessity – it might even be tantamount to economic nonsense. It is just a cultural necessity which you may or may not espouse with.

  8. 4 August 2010 at 13:05 IST

    Thanks for the comprehensive comment Shashank. Since my mother tongue is Hindi I am aware of the words “hamara” and “apni”. However, please note the sentiment in which these words are used. “Apna” though always used for a personal belonging is limited to the extent of “apni pencil” and “apna ghar”. Rarely does “apna desh” imply exclusivity unless talking to a non-Indian. Even when a Hindi speaker does say “apni Dilli” the sentiment is “the Delhi that belongs to both of us”… I know the distinction may not be clear since, as u rightly pointed out, the Queen’s language is too unexpressive for such complex sentiments.
    Why I am against the changing of names of cities and landmarks is because in my opinion it manifests a primal animal instinct of marking your territory. So, while a “Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute” may leave scope for ambiguity, “Veermata Jijabai Technical Institute” puts beyond doubt where the institute is located. Just an illustrative example, but I hope you get the point. MG Road is a different thing since there’s one in practically every town and city of the country (with Bata at one of the ends 😉 ).
    Protecting a language and the culture associated with it is good till it becomes a political agenda and involves physical aggression.

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