You can still call Bombay Bombay, and Madras remains Madras. And the likes of Raj Thackeray can’t do a thing about it. Both these places, though, have little in common with Mumbai and Chennai. Bombay is a town in Franklin County, New York, named after an Indian princess who was born in Bombay, India. Her husband, Michael Hogan, an early landlord, gave the town its name in honour of his wife’s birthplace. That’s where the similarity ends. With a population of 1,200 people (as of Census 2000), Bombay, New York, a sleepy dairy town, is nothing like Mumbai with over 10,000 times the population. It has had no terror attacks, no bombings, and no underworld mafia is at work there. The worst disaster the town encountered took place in 1877, when a plague of grasshoppers consumed half the crops and killed many cattle and sheep.
Madras is a city in Jefferson County, Oregon (United States). Pronounced Mad-res, it was originally called The Basin. The name was changed to Madras in 1903—it is believed after the light, cotton fabric that goes by the same name. The city spans just 5.6 square kilometres and is home to 5,000-odd people. While our Madras is home to the flamboyant Tamil film industry, for Madras, Oregon, the most notable connection to cinema is River Jude Phoenix, an Oscar-nominated actor who died of drug overdose on Halloween morning in 1993.
Washington DC might be the capital of the United States, but there are actually two Delhis in that country. In southwest Illinois, between Jerseyville and Godfrey, is New Delhi, with a population of less than 100 people. The second Delhi is in California, about 30 km west-northwest of Merced with a population of around 15,000. The name comes from Del-High, the Delta-Highline Canal nearby.
In fact, there is a Delhi in Canada too, located in Ontario. Predominantly rural with affordable housing, residents there spend afterwork hours at the golf course, on the beaches of Lake Erie or in small clubhouses. Not quite the Delhi we know, is it?▪