Saturday, November 25, 2006


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.


  1. Leaving aside that bangalore sounds stylish and bengalooru ancient..

    I just wonder what sort of national pride are we redeeming in this renaming..We are redeeming our national pride if we get back the kohinoor diamond we lost aged making the life harder for western people with tongue twisters we aint redeeming anything..frankly they dont care.

    does the money that needs to be spend by the exchequer make sense..Money that could be spend in building schools and roads.

    I am from thiruvananthapuram..Am proud of the place not becoz of it name..but a whole gamut of other reasons..Agreed that many dont like the renaming coz it doesnt sound chic any more..But I beg to differ for different reasons!!

  2. @Kochu
    The lesson is we shouldn't even let it be an issue. After all, what's in a name? Bangalooru, you say? Sure, why not? But's let stick to something. Hopefully, someone doesn't feel inclined that it doesn't reflect the local culture. Otherwise, one day, we may all be staring at Gowdanagar ;), considering how HD has succeeded in polarizing Karnatakans.

  3. good one ammai! have to admit that i am also one mourning the death of bangalore! not that it's really come into effect yet huh? as in, don't see any of the news channels changing over from "bangalore" yet!!

    the "maravandichenda" had me rolling, really! lol

  4. the deity would have been more happy with the much much shorter and easy-on-the-tongue name for all people, ananthapuri which was the original rather than thiruvananthapuram!!!

    am not against renaming as such but its irritating that it is mostly being done to firm up parochial tendencies. have no love for the british but todays cities like bombay, madras and calcutta were mere villages before the brits founded their forts at these locations gifted or acquired from local rajas...if all this glorification is meant to make us forget our past, most of today's narrow divisive regional reactiv tendencies makes me wonder if we will go down that path again.

    good post...i liked what you asked the youngster.

  5. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    An eye for an eye and the whole world would be blind.

  6. Our friend who thought "Bengalooru" was "stupid" and "dicey" (sic), did not think through why he disliked the new name. Every language has its own way of pronouncing city names:

    Don't Kannadiga's say "Dehali" for Delhi, when their northern Indian cousins say "Dhilli".

    For people who speak and use English the most, the shift to "Bengalooru" can be as difficult as to a Kannada-speaking person to say "Bangalore" while speaking in Kannada. It is natural to say "Bengalooru" in Kannada and "Bangalore" in English. Don't trespass into each other's "territory".

    The whole "renaming" of cities is STUPID and UNPRODUCTIVE. Someone should have the courage to stand up to people like U.R. Anathamurthy and say F*** OFF!

  7. You write:
    Place names loaded with meaning and history become gibberish when anglicized to suit the outsiders’ vocal organs.

    Sir, what does "Benaglooru" translate to in Kannada? May I know? It is as "gibberish" as "Bangalore". It may have its origin in "Bendakaooru" (Town of boiled beans), but that is not what "Bengalooru" is saying: it is too a corruption of the original name.

    Are you saying that indigenous "gibberish" is better that foreign but established "gibberish"?

    "Bangalore" has been with us long enough to become "naturalized". So please don't repeat this "politician's" statement about "Bangalore" being the usurper and "Bengalooru" the rightful "king".

  8. i personally aint that crazy bout this whole renaming issue of all the major metros. If they are of the idea 'whats in a name', then why bother changing it ..? Bombay and madras and bangalore sounded better. I m a resident of Mumbai,here all the street names which were english and easy to pronounce, have been changed into the likes of Dadasahibbhuloobhaidesai road and er.. k thats all i remeber being of mallu origin. SEE THE PLIGHT, they just make it difficult for other indians as well.It jus miserably fails to save the whole purpose.

  9. Y all the mayalalis are worried abt kannadigas changing The name of bangalooru.
    They should worry abt ther their tung twisting names and also meningless names like sibu,siju,biju,binu......... i dont know how ther manage to find thes names


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