Renaming colonial cities – and Nay Pyi Taw #thriller

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Excerpt from Route of Evil

En route to their first appointment Anoushka looked out from the window of their small coach at Burma’s relatively newly appointed capital city, Nay Pyi Taw.

Her research on the internet had found references to Rudyard Kipling, a fellow Bombayite. Kipling was reputed to have said, ‘This is Burma, it is quite unlike any place you know about.’ She decided she would wait before drawing her own conclusions.

Personally she would always think of the country as Burma. She had not even paused to consider the confusion, the Myanmar-cum-Burma thing. After all she came from Mumbai-cum-Bombay, she and her friends still called it Bombay. And, they were Bombayites, Anoushka had no interest in the new word, Mumbaikars, which they tried to push today to mean her fellow city dwellers.

She had read that the military government here had changed the country’s name to Myanmar at the end of the 1980s in an effort to distance themselves from its old British colonial past. Six years later Bombay was renamed Mumbai for the very same reason. But in both cases the old names seemed to manage to survive!

The first thing she noticed about Nay Pyi Taw was not something she saw there, but rather the lack of several somethings. First, there was hardly any road traffic – but she supposed that everywhere in the world had to be quieter than Mumbai.

Much stranger was the fact that she could see no parks, no attractive squares, features that every other city she had visited seemed to prize so highly. But if there were shortages in traffic and public places, there was no shortfall in construction sites. Evidently the capital was still a work-in-progress.

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More here

See also:

Bangkok, the calm before the storm

Creating Bollywood magic

Monaco, tunnel vision of death

Hunting endangered rhino

Is revenge sweet?

Benjamins – the $100 bill

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