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.