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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    August 04, 2005

    A rose by any other name

    What's in a name? The bard Wali Miyan Sheikh Peer wrote in 'Romeo and Juliet', "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

    But I attach a lot of importance to names, especially street names. That is why most of Bangalore really gets my goat. The street names are so orderly, even if the traffic isn't. It is almost as though the streets were named by a programmer. Third main, second cross; Fifth block, seventh main, first cross ... you get the point.

    Getting lost is so easy. If the I before V in the signboard pointing to fourth cross gets erased through forces of nature or man, then you end up in the wrong street. Imagine if the street name was something like 'Ajay Palvayanteeswaran street', to borrow a name immortal in soc.culture.indian. No one would ever get lost!

    Bangalore must also be the only place where 90% of all old newspaper marts have the same name, or derivatives thereof. They're all named 'Venkateswara'. Similarly, the water lorry services are invariably named 'Manjunatha'. Why? Come on, lets show some ingenuity!

    I don't know the exact timeframe but a couple of decades ago, the Tamil Nadu government, influenced obviously by its Dravidian ideology and origins, changed the names of several streets in Madras, and probably other parts of TN as well. They removed all caste-sounding words appearing in street names. So Rangachari road became Ranga road, Thambu Chetty street became Thambu street, Kasturi Rangan Iyengar road became Kasturi Ranga road, Appu Mudali street became Appu street and Chetty street became ... Street!

    I love streets which have personality names in them. At any rate, the street name must convey something ... perhaps an old worldly charm. I think the best street name that I've lived in so far is 'Match factory lane' in Kurla (West), Bombay. You really can't get anything better, at least I think so. Last I heard, large parts of Kurla were submerged as a result of Narayan Rane invoking Indra's wrath. Can someone confirm if that street is intact? It has been more than fifteen years since I went there, but I do remember that 'Match factory lane' is off a main road which has a Punjab National Bank and a BEST bus stop.

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