haven't used maya 2008 (or seen it) but usually at the top left there's a dropdown menu that has like... modeling, rendering, animation, dynamics, etc.
they may have changed it to mesh/polygon/etc for modeling...
but basically the regular menu you see at the top (with file, edit, view, etc) can be changed depending on what you want to do... dynamics, modeling, rendering, etc.
another way you could find the menu you're looking for is by using the hotbox.
in the viewport, hold down the space key. it brings up pretty much all of the menus available. you can navigate from either the hotbox OR the menu sets at the top, they're virtually the same.
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