But of late, the more I mention Mumbai with the fervence and affection of a Carrie Bradshaw (The New Yorkphile from the show Sex and the City), people look upon me derisively. They say that I speak fondly of a city that is apparently only for the Marathi people. And I feel like screaming - Mumbai would lose its charm if it became yet another vernacular city. I know how tough it was for me, despite being a southie to find my way in a city like Thrissur in Kerala. All signboards were in Malayalam, hardly anyone spoke Hindi, let alone English and my sign language skills just got perfect post my stint there! I can't begin to imagine my city without my Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Telugu speaking friends. In fact the multi-lingualism is what defines the pot-pourri called Mumbai.
India alone is home to several 100 languages and dialects. The Constituion of India recognizes 18 regional languages. Which is why we have a national language - Hindi. Granted, one language should not supplant another. But trying to fractionally distillate a country that has finally merged into one united entity (calls for separate states notwithstanding) is not just counter-productive, it is wrong. Imagine petroleum. It takes millions of years to form and only a few hours to fractionate. At least some good comes out of the fractionation process, but dividing a country as diverse as India on the basis of language, serves no purpose whatsoever.
Take the example of politicians blaming actors for supporting Pakistani cricketers for the IPL. I find that rather funny. The purpose of a sport or music is to unite warring factions. This has been the case right from the days of the Olympics, when all wars were suspended during the period of the games. And now statements like 'SRK is a Muslim first and an Indian later' are ridiculous. Both SRK and Aamir Khan have Hindu wives! How on earth can they possibly be religious fanatics??? Just to score media brownie points, our politicos make statements and that really shows our country in poor light.
Several foreign countries would do anything to have our kind of diversity - geographic, cultural, linguistic - you name it, we have it. And we, instead of thriving on it, squander it away on mindless, petty things. I hope we realize the gift we have and learn to cherish it, before it's too late. Mumbai, my city the way I know it, is great just because it is a melting pot of cultures and languages. I hope no one kills the soul of my city by bringing in mindless divisions, that serve no purpose whatsoever.