Sunday, November 19, 2006

Renaming Bangalore to a toilet

I'm a Kannadiga, a native of Bangalore, born and brought up here. And the farthest forefather in my family tree I've known also lived here. So, theoretically speaking, I'm as Bangalorean as one can get. Good, bad or ugly, polluted, crowded by an immigrant population, bursting at it seams, plagued by infrastructural issues and all that, it remains dear to me - my home. The love of my life, really. I've also loved it for its colonial history and the resulting tinge of cosmopolitan quality that its always had. At the same time, its a city that's home to some stalwarts in Kannada literature, theatre, and cinema. And irrespective of what the immigrant population has called the city over the decades (yes, hard to believe, but Bangalore's weather has always attracted a sizable number of outsiders right through the 20th century), we have always called it Bengaluru. And even if you go by the Brits' version of it, I can't imagine a name more charming than Bangalore. And now, as if the rape that the city is being subjected to at the hands of the JDS government, greedy land developers (bringing down historical buildings every day to construct apartments to cater to the engineered real estate boom) and other parasites was not enough, that politician U.R. Anantha Murthy desperately seeking attention (having lost out in an attempt to win a seat in the parliament) proposes a change of name Benga-loo-ru ostensibly to make outsiders pronounce the city's name the way the locals do, and "restore pride in Kannada". Think of this for a second: try as you might, can you pronouce "Allapuzha" like a mallu, or the expansion of DMK like a true tam? Do you care? Do they care that you cannot? No. Because you cannot. You need not. You're not a local. On similar lines, I have enough pride as a Kannadiga & a Bangalorean to not be bothered about how outsiders pronounce the name of my city as long as they respect the city and its culture (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the spelling of the city). A language or a culture is too great in itself to require help from ordinary mortals in "deifying" it. It would've been a continued tribute to Bangalore's culture if it had two equally charming pronunciations used by different sets of people. But no - the attention seeking avaricious "guardians" of Karnataka have now come up with a spelling that has Bengal and loo in it. (I would've even settled for Bengaluru despite that name having bengal in it, but having a toilet in the name is a little too hard to digest. Gives me a constipation ).

From being a world renowned technology center (that never lost touch with its culture, mind you), we are now the laughing stock of the world with toilet in the name of our city. Not to mention the crores of rupees spent on the exercise. The possibilities of using the same cash for developmental efforts in a city groaning under its own weight are, to say the least, countless. Instead, the taxpayers money will now be swindled in the name of restoring Bangalore's pride. And this proposal comes from the same %$^* writer who also opposed English as an additional language in lower primary schools. The one person who's being doing Kannada and Karnataka great service, Mr.N.R. Narayana Murty, has exactly the opposite view on English in schools. But his exhortations fell on deaf ears. The greatest asset of the tech population (including locals) of Bangalore is the ability to converse in English effortlessly. And we will now be isolating ourselves from the rest of the world by imposing such draconian rules. We're marching towards being an incompetent, narrow-minded and, oh yes, "proud" culture.
I'm now well and truly embarrassed of my "culture".


Jeevan Ramakrishna said...

Nice one! very very nice one.

Sharath said...

Good one!..Seriously magi instead of focusing on the real issues its all political drama of those idiotic bastards. Its utter nonsense to bother on whether somebody pronounces it Bangalore or Bengalooru, who cares!!

syed said...

Hi Bach, I will be visiting Bangalore for the first time of my life for a business. Any advice? i.e. where to go, what to see, etc.

Irfan said...

Very true... the amount of money it takes to change from bangalore to bengalooru should be invested in some other thing. Like better schools and infrastructure. I have been in Bangalore for 5 months and changing the name doesnt change any situation that it is in now.


aditya said...

The way I look at it there are two facets to this issue

a)The justifiabiliy of the need for changing it in the first place

b)The name itself - the pun and the misinterpretations that the name is vulnerable to

Le me first elucidate a).As proverbial as "calling a spade a spade might seem" , this is a case in point of that. Should we or not call it by the name that it was christened with? I would say yes , not for reasons of enriching the culture or repsecting the language but merely as a semblance of propriety.One could argumentatively say that a name does not accord propriety in itself.The question then is what does .. I think it lies in the synergy of many such small things done over time. It is very easy to pass off a simple thing like this as merely a figment of maleficence on part of the powers that be.But if you look at the very many things that we do as part of culture, be it celebrating November 1st, Hampi Utsav, Dusshera or having a flag for the state,they all might not stand the test of logic yet they are an integral part of our identity as Kanndiga at large and hance a Bangalorean ( its another thing that we today do not pay much attention to them ).
And the hoary old argument of spending money for the common good
is as palpably short of realism as saying that politicians are the represemtatives of the people. Have a heart people if anything a significant portion of money (and land) is not being spent for private suites of illiterate conniving brats and their henchmen for their overnight meat,skin ,alchohol orgies , right infront of
what is considered to be the single most proud edifice in Bangalore. Now you think is this culture...

b)I actually find this funny.Almost seems like someone took it off some cheesy comic strip on Nov 1st.If anything its an abberation that often crops up when u reword something in a different language down to the last syllable. Come to think of it C"hen"nnai has a chicken as part of its name. Does that mean people of Chennai chennai chicken out.( I see some one grinning and sayin Chikun Gunya) and people of Mumbai are Mum all the time. I think this a poor joke streched too far and wide.Maybe it might strike you when ure asking someone for the restroom.( ure in it ?? :)) )

keshavan said...

I dont agree with Aditya. Still I would like to point out "Whats in a name?" So both Bharath's and Aditya's view points are right

Harish said...

What I wanted to write as a comment here, has been fully and effectively said by aditya here. What he has said makes complete sense.
All these small things, as aditya rightly points out, contribute to Kannadiga identity.
More importantly, some of the Anglicised names have no meaning, while their original names have a lot of meaning and significance. For example, Trivandrum does not mean anything, while Thiruvanantapuram(City Of God Ananta. Because it has the Anantapadmanabha temple.), has meaning and also a lot of history associated with it.
Let us not fool ourselves neither by U R Anantamurty logic nor by this ridiculous logic that "renaming will come in the way of development" that many cynical citizens come up with.
Lastly, if anything that a Kannadiga is lacking today, it is a lack of knowledge about his identity. In the renaming process, people learnt a lot about Bengalooru history. This knowledge of history is what is needed to become cognizant of our identity.