Saturday, November 25, 2006
BANGALOORU - WHY NOT?
Almost sixty years since we got independence and we are still reluctant to let go of the memories and influence of that anglo-saxon presence, which, though best forgotten, continues to haunt us like stolen, happy moments of a shameful past.
What a lot of tears are being shed about Bangalore becoming Bangalooru. The other day, a jet set youngster was passionately mourning the passing away of Bangalore – said Bangalore will always remain Bangalore to him. I asked him what the word Bangalore meant that its replacement should cause such dejection. He thought for a moment – obviously at a loss for words – and then came out with ‘well, it’s a smart name where as Bangalooru sounds stupid.’.
‘What?’, I ventured gingerly (these youngsters are so assertive, particularly if the are technosavvy), ‘Bangalooru has a meaning and you find that stupid whereas the meaningless Banglaore is smart. So to utter meaningless words is smart – and meaningful ones is stupid?’
‘There you go again’ he said. ‘Playing with words’.
‘But not meaningless words’. I dared.
The guy turned red in the face and went off in a huff, but not before throwing over his shoulders the only sensible statement from him in the course of the whole conversation.
‘Bangalore is global where as the other is dicey,
Dicey. A favourite term with the tech savvy generation who operate with broad spectrum terms when they find themselves in domains outside their tech field. Nevertheless, he has a point there. Guess Banglored is easier to manage than Bangaloorued – but then why are we so bothered about how someone sitting in some other part of the world will manage to get his tongue around our names, words? For four odd centuries , our culture suffered distortion at the hands of people who had no business to be here - a fact reflected most arrestingly in the anglicisation of place and person names - something we accepted with slavish and sycophantic indulgence and pleasure. Now that we are in a position to call the shots, let’s do it, dammit! why are we still so concerned about making life easier for the west? I suggest that all chatterjees go back to Chattopadhayas and mukherjees to Mukhopadhyaya. It would be nice, for a change, to see the white man stumbling and stuttering over our external affairs minister’s name!
Let us take this reversion to the original place names in the spirit in which it is done. I don’t think it is an instance of playing to the galleries. It is an effort to redeem the national pride which took one hell of a beating at the hands of the angrezi rulers. It is an effort to go back to a past of which we can be proud. What a lot of history is compressed in the name Ttiruvananthapurum? I was so happy when the capital city was liberated from the meaningless nomenclature TRIVANDRUM . Even as children, we used to think it was a ridiculous name and used to break it up into Tree, van and drum and then literally translate each of these component parts into Malayalam as MARA(=TREE) VANDI(=VAN) CHENDA(=DRUM) – Maravandichenda is how we used to ridicule the then official name Trivandrum. Place names loaded with meaning and history become gibberish when anglicized to suit the outsiders’ vocal organs.
And am sure the deity himself was pleased to have been restored to his rightful position as the patron of the city.