Pune or Poona – What’s in a Name?

Subscribe to our newsletter

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This was ole Will Shakespeare’s take on the matter, but then he didn’t have the likes of Arvind Kejriwal to contend with, who deftly deflects the junta’s attention from more pressing matters by raising syaapas where none exist.

Kejri, who has quite effectively brought Delhi to its knees, decided he has to give his keemti chief ministerial waqt to changing road names too. Accordingly, Race Course road, which was named after the Delhi race course in 1940 and which is more famous for being the prime minister’s galli-nukkad, has been renamed a couple of weeks ago to Lok Kalyan Marg. Apparently Kejri and his merry band scratched their heads for ages to come up with a befitting name, even as Delhi faces a myriad other pressing issues!

Not to be outdone, neighbour Haryana announced on the 28th September that Gurgaon will now officially be known as Gurugram. I could have told the powers-that-be that they’re wasting their breath. For all the Punjabis and Jats over yonder, it has always been and will always be nothing but “Gudgavan!” Made me feel like I was living in some tabela, that!

Nobody except airline staff and foreigners call Bombay ‘Mumbai.’ Therefore, it kinda zapped me to find out that it too has been party to these road name-changers. Did you know the (in)famous Grant road is now M Shaukat Ali road? I didn’t. The erstwhile Dhobi Talao is now known as Vasudeo B Phadke Chowk, Juhu Lane is CD Barfiwala Marg while Bandra’s Linking road, the source of many an aspiring model/starlet’s ishtyle, is – ulp! N Subhash Bose Marg.


You hardly ever see a monument that’s covered with proprietal pigeon poo change its name. But hotels are great at this kind of confusion. There is this privately owned five star hotel in Delhi that was once under Hyatt management; the owner led them such a merry dance that they were mopping their brow in relief when the contract ended and they could legitimately leave this Mad Hatter’s tea party! Even though it’s had another name for over five years now, every self-respecting Delhi-ite still calls it the “Hayaath!”

’Arre bhaiyya, kahe conphuse karat ho humka?’ is the agonised wail that rises from Bombay’s cabbie force comprising largely of UP-ites who come from ‘Illahabad’ to become phamous like bade bhaiyya Amitabh. At least they are resourceful enough to take you to where you want to go, even though both of you are not operating on the same GPRS! The Oberoi Group learnt this the hard way: building two hotels cheek-by-jowl on Nariman Point and calling one the Oberoi and the other the Trident and they seriously expected a beleaguered cabbie to get the difference?! So then the Group went in for this hideously expensive branding exercise. We all live in this happy bubble now, where the Obs pats itself on the back for getting it right, while you just say, “Oberoi” and the cabbie willingly vrooms off to the Trident!

Thank God Poona is never gonna change. Yes, it remains ‘Poona’ for us who were born here, while the hybrid newbies who come in due to the IT’s and the BPO’s call it ‘Pune,’ why, they even call Main Street as MG road, but we know what it really is! Thank God for our Saras Baghs and Koregaon Parks and the quaintly named Junglee Maharaj road…Ahh, the scent of freshly baked bruns and Shrewsbury’s and Joshiji’s vada pao wafting over the city… Quintessential Poona!

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More