What, after all, is a mispronunciation if not a kind of re-naming, a privatization of something public—the singular way a word trips across the tip of an individual tongue?
Bombay, Bombain, Bombaym, Monbaym, Mombaim, Manbai, Mumbe, Mumbai. “It is a city that has multiple aliases,” says Suketu Mehta, “as do gangsters and whores.” And yet: We give many names to the things we love, to the things we want to call closer to us. Mumbai, meri jaan. Mumbai, my love. To name something is to call it your own. Bombay, says Rushdie, “a city that belonged to nobody, and to all.”