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Monday, December 12, 2005

What's There in a Name? Lots

The rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but it wouldn't sound the same. Nor will it be able to incite the same memories and sensations that we associate with the particular sound. Try hippopotamus instead of rose.

We found it amusing when Mohan on losing a bet changes his name to 'Chiman Lal Charlie' in that SBI ad (though I disagree with the 'Surprisingly SBI' part). Numerological assurances might have reassured our 'celebrities' of their newfound misspelt names. But our cities are no success-crazy page-three-types or stupid betters.

Bombay became Mumbai; Madras was renamed Chennai and Calcutta, Kolkata. Now the Karnataka government is contemplating calling Bangalore by a new name - Bengaluru (the town of boiled beans).

Most that I interact with still prefer the erstwhile 'colonial' names to the 'indigenous' ones. The Telegraph datelines still read CALCUTTA. Ask someone in Delhi for directions to Indira Chowk - only a few will be able to guide you to Connaught Circus. Connaught Place for all Delhiites (and others) is still CP, notwithstanding the government's directives. The shop signboards and maps reflect this fact. Only the Metro Station says 'Rajiv Chowk.'

How much we may superficially abhor our colonial legacy - the names that the British had coined had a cosmopolitan and all-inclusive feel about them. The renaming suggests - 'for locals only, outsiders beware' - something out of context with the trend of the present world economy.

The name 'Delhi' has thankfully still not ignited any such renaming endeavours. But one can never be sure - New Delhi can morph into 'Nai Dilli' irrespective of linguistic differences. "We the people of Bharat ..." might begin the preamble.

14 Comments:

aquamarine said...

That was quick. Thx for the recipe Soumyadip.

Only a miracle can save the cute sleepy city of Bangalore from such a naming disaster! It also happens to be my hometown..so an extra prayer...nooo Bengaluru! God no.

AquaM

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

The BBC doesn't recognise "Chennai" at all! So much so that when telling the weather they used to mention "Madras" but since "Madras" became "Chennai," they have stopped referring to it!

There is also one other incident I remember where a guy who was supposed to get to Madras landed up somewhere else on the globe because Madras was Madras no longer!

aklanta said...

At times I look fagged while trying to be in step with my name...yes names matter a lot...

aquamarine said...

soumya,
I have posted ur recipe, but i was not able to get the correct image to go with the text. Can u just chk my blog and let me know if that will do. Else, do suggest another image.
Thx again for obliging.
AquaM

pallavi said...

I love the SBI ads.. very witty.. hahah

Atul Sabnis said...

ah! thinking alike...i thought alike here

San said...

Hmm maybe I should go get some extra letters put in my name too - think it would give me extra luck? ;)

Anonymous said...

i think u r right,(what's in a name ), its true, just by changing the name of a place or a person,it does'nt change the substance in it, right!. good post.:)

dwaipayan said...

i knew it. finally u post on this topic. well........i'm not saying anything unless i know the full story.;-)

Anonymous said...

Well the new name suggests as if the place is somewhere in Bengal!
More than a name change,the place needs a change from its current state of affairs -- poor infrastucture, burgeoning population, Devegowda, Dharam Singh.
Intrestingly, this fetish of changing names is not entirely Indian.
New York for example was earlier New Amsterdam, Beijing was Peking. Closer even, Yangoon -- where mera Piya once went -- was Rangoon...

Rita said...

Yeah! You are right. I feel that there are other problems in India that need to be attended to immdiately. Changing the names of cities can wait.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it! » »

ravi said...

Madras is always Madras, no matter whoever changes it or calls it otherwise.

Changes are so much irritating and make life more difficult . I always say Madras as I'm used to from childhood but people around me frown as I've uttered some obscene word.

Well, If you don't like british names or anything done by british then, why do you still celebrate Jan 1st as New year? We have seperate Tamil New Year right? Why don't you destroy the high courts, railway tracks constructed by british & reconstruct from the start? Sounds stupid right... Same way, It sounds stupid to change from Madras to Chennai when both co-existed without any problem. Now , only Chennai exists . where's my magnificent Madras? My DOB Certificate lists it as Madras. A'm I born in a city which does not exist? These changes promote regionalism & not nationalism… which will ultimately result in a separate Country ThamizlNadu(Once known as the State of Madras).

Don't know where will it End?

Soumyadip said...

Ravi: "The Mystery of the Disappearing Cities"

This linguistic chauvinism isn't going to take us anywhere and will leave people like us pondering over directions.