Bangalore, names and Nehambal

From tomorrow, Bengaluru shall sit squat in Karnataka. Technically, this is the last day the city shall be Bangalore. Kamla writes on the issue of name change

I don’t know how many of you are able to handle the name change. I sure am having a hard time with the change.

I sound like a really old person when I make the following observations and remarks. Within my lifetime I have seen the contours of the world map re-arranged, witnessed countries disappear and new ones emerge in their place. In my lifetime I have seen the death of cities that I grew up or visited like Madras, Bangalore and Bombay. Instead they were re-born with new names. My memories are of Madras, and not Chennai.

When I was growing up, Bangalore was yet to be cool in the way it is now. Sure it had its bars, but it was still a retired couple’s heaven. But even then, the weather was to die for, the names of the streets had a lovely ring to it.

When I say Madras or Bombay it is not out of an intellectual stand, but because I have never called those cities anything else. That said, I don’t know why a city’s identity is in the hands of a few idiots who take these decisions. Sure they were elected, but would they have been elected if the name-change thing was included in the manifesto? Besides, I don’t see how such expenditure is justified. There are a million other issues to sort out in the city.

But beyond the logic of limited resources and political stunts, it’s sad somehow to lose a city and part of its character thus. Though the name doesn’t change the character of a city, it is indicative of some processes. For some reason, Chennai will always be different from Madras. Perhaps Madras is what my mind remembers as the finest the city had to offer in every way. Or how Marine Drive cannot be anything but the Marine Drive. The government is not responsible for the fragility of my memories, but I wish they wouldn’t trample on them with such harsh boots. A part of my history appears to crumble everytime they change names. Some name changes are less successful than others. Like how Connaught Place remained CP. Not a single autowallah in Delhi will understand if you say Rajiv Chowk to him.

I am a big fan of UR Ananthamurthy. I cannot understand how someone who wrote something as cynical, fascinating and rebellious as Samskara could suggest that the name of a city be fiddled with.

If they have a point, maybe I should change my name to Nehambal, or Negaeeshwari. That should sort all my issues out.

PS – One doesn’t need absurd reasons to do things. I swear I thought this was a joke. [Via Jace]

“The intention is that even a foreigner who visits the city will use a Kannada-sounding word by calling the city Bengalooru. The ‘u’ vowel distinguishes our language, just like the ‘o’ in Kolkata is distinct to Bengali. By adding the ‘u,’ even words like chair-u and table-u become Kannada,” Ananthamurthy said. Singh maintained that he was convinced about the genuineness of the demand.

Ah! Crapu then.

26 Comments

Filed under Cities, Culture, History and Monuments, India, Marketplace and All Things Current

26 Responses to Bangalore, names and Nehambal

  1. Well, I do think it’s a waste of resources and money in the name of a name-change. (They could at least let existing things be the same.)

    But, leaving aside the political agenda, it’s not as if nobody really cares for the name Bengaluru. As you pointed out, U R Ananthamurthy likes the name to be changed to Bengaluru because that’s the name he’s used to (please correct me if I am wrong). And, as far as I know, it’s common among Kannadigas to address the city as Bengaluru. In short, Bengaluru is not a new name to the city, and some like to address the city as Bengaluru just as some others like to address it as Bangalore.

  2. n

    crapu is right. again i refer to delhi, but all my examples come from there. The city still keeps its name but CP, the airport, others landmarks have been renamed, mostly to work a gandhi into them somehow. most annoying. fortunately, no one uses those names, except, to creat confusion :D

  3. Completely agree with you. I steadfastly refuse to refer to Madras as Chennai. Its a sad political stunt, and over time,as the level of education increases, IMO, the masses will be able to see through such a move.
    I remember reading a funny article which spoke about how in Bombay…oops…Mumbai in the future, every landmark/road will be named Chattrapati Shivaji :)

  4. Pingback: DesiPundit » Archives » Whats In A Name

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. Name changes are not what make a city more “Indian” or reclaim our roots. If they want to make these cities stand out, then fix the damn infrastructure problems and spend the money there rather than on repainting every sign with the new name.

    Of course Madras led the way b/c Tamilian pride is about changing names and refusing to speak Hindi and not much else.

  6. Despite the fact that I don’t endorse this “name change” and despite the fact that the arguments here and elsewhere are logical, and hence hard to refute, shall I say that the most reactions on this topic take a rather simplistic view. I have two points to make. Firstly, I am not comfortable terming this a “name change”.

    (1) People use “bengaLooru” (or the shorter bengLoor) when they are speaking to others in Kannada. That is an invariable.
    (2) People write “bengaLooru” when they are writing in Kannada. That is again an invariable.
    (3) I use “bengLoor” or “bangLore” (with a thick L) when talking in English. I have observed so many others doing the same. That is also an invariable.
    (4) People use “Bangalore” when writing in English. There is going to be some problem here.

    One can surely react and refuse. But the reaction cannot be the same as that for the “madras — chennai” name change. To make it more clear, you can react as vehemently as you want, but if you say your reaction is against a name change, I cannot accept it. Your reaction has to be against something else (I don’t know what).

    Secondly, you have raised the question of “identity” – “When I say Madras or Bombay it is not out of an intellectual stand, but because I have never called those cities anything else. That said, I don’t know why a city’s identity is in the hands of a few idiots who take these decisions.” Perfect. It cannot in the hands of a few idiots. However, the total number of people that refer to this place as “bengalooru” has always been much greater than that that refers to as “bangalore”. And the former have never called this anything else. So then, who defines the “identity” of a place?
    I ask this question because in most reactions to this issue I sense a suggestion that somehow “bangalore” defines a better identity than “bengalooru” (I am not sure if you are hinting at that). I really don’t see why this particular (this one, not necessarily the other “name changes”) has to make a part of one’s history crumble.

    Hope I am making sense.

    Personally, this issue hardly matters to me. For me, neither name makes any difference to the place’s identity/history. As far as writing in English is concerned, I would still stick to the spelling “Bangalore”.

    (By the way, I too always use Bombay and Madras. But a lot of people from those places who I meet prefer Mumbai and Chennai. Don’t know why.)

  7. km

    I’ll just wait for the next round of national revisionism when all cities shall return to their original names.

    Morons.

  8. the cycle goes on. the purists, the populists & the protestors.
    and the people remain bewildered, naming things as they’ve always known them till it gets difficult to do so.
    perhaps, the new names indicate the (sometimes horrendous) changes these cities have undergone.

  9. giggle.. crapu is hilarious..

    they turned everything in mumbai to Veer Jeejamaata somethings. the zoo, the university, everything. Come on, being some king’s mom is the new black?

  10. That explanation quote is hilarious. The amount of money wasted on setting up these clowns to think of absurd reasons for trivial decisions mind-boggling.

    Screw them all. It’ll always be Bangalore to me.

  11. Neha, I had a few more things to say. Like this one – “Another problem with the arguments based on identity and history is that, these are the exact things that people who want to do such changes base their arguments on!. So, I wrote a detailed post on my blog. :)

  12. Sanket: I do not offer an argument. It’s entirely possible that my reaction is more absurd than the argument – but therein lies the catch – I am not claiming this is an argument. If you read the post – it’s a personal reaction – not a series of points made against name change. For instance Delhi is referred to as Dilli. But before they make a name change, they need to include that in the manifesto to ensure it has the consent of majority of the people. I do not offer the rationale for identity – but merely point to the madness of it all. Please do not extrapolate what it isn’t meant to be.

    Revisionism can be constructive or be done without the consent of the city itself – which I suspect is happening. We cannot deny our imperialist past – neither must we have to live in the shadow of it. The real shadows are the red-tape, bureaucracy, intellectual/ moral superiority and autocratic nature of governance. If there is a referendum that consults people and the name change is approved thus, I will learn to live with it even if I have my complaints.

    I cannot speak on behalf of the people of Bangalore. However, I can have an opinion on the politics and insanity of forceful identity morph.

    Shripriya: The sentiment in Tamil Nadu was probably justified when the Central Government seemed to reflect North Indian aspirations of extending compulsary Hindi lessons for the country. It’s one thing to have a national language, but quite another to expect people to give up their cultural right and submit them to another language. If you ask me – expecting children to learn Hindi as the first language in Tamil Nadu is no different from the domination of English in classroom pedagogy. The latter is irreversible and in effect desirable for the employment and life opportunity it extends. I cannot say the same for Hindi. It isn’t a matter of pride, as it is a matter of practical assertion of a cultural right.

    People have the right to change the name to Bengaluru or BengalGuru. But random surveys do not reflect aspirations or consent.

  13. Neha: I understand that it is a personal reaction. If I have said “your arguments”, my bad, but the intention is not to extrapolate or to question the validity of your personal views. And I too am just trying to give an alternative viewpoint. I am only making a general case: “Despite the fact that I don’t endorse this “name change” and despite the fact that the arguments here and elsewhere are logical, and hence hard to refute, shall I say that the most reactions on this topic take a rather simplistic view. I am not extrapolating. I am only saying “may be these things should also be considered” and “these are the problems with this point”, if and when one is arguing. One can surely have a opinion (supported by a logical argument or not). In fact, if you read my post, I have said that I don’t want this change and I don’t want to give any reasons for that.

    Perhaps it should be included in a manifesto to facilitate a consensus. But even if there is a consensus for “bengalooru” (or “bengaluru”), one cannot be forced away from Bangalore, if that’s what one prefers. As I have said in my post, I refer to my home town in at least 4 different ways depending on the context. I, a single person, should trivially reach a consensus on one single name, so to speak, but I can’t :D. I can’t even imagine consensus among anything bigger than myself. :)

  14. Aksha

    LOL. Bangalore will always be Bangalore. I just hope Hyderabad does not change to Bhagyanagar. We would be then savouring the famous Bhagyanagari Biryani?? All these ppl who rule us and the crapu running in their head!

  15. You should definitely check this post :)
    http://vasukir.blogspot.com/2006/10/whats-in-name.html

    I am sure its difficult for the current generation to get along with name change, shouldn’t matter for future generations right ?

    For me, the name change really doesnt matter much, there might be other issues in the city, but they are totally unrelated to this name change !

  16. Even if you forget about all memory issues, all the costs involved in this change, the further confusions and difficulties, what makes this necessary? The names are all evolved. There is no reason why someone should track back. The name bangalooru also can be tracked back with all the stories around (like benda kalooru etc). If people like UR wants to have the foreigners feel about the Kannada culture, there are better ways he can do that by giving them a good guest treatment, by keeping their city clean and good etc. Basically the idea here is to get on some emotions of the people whose emotions rule their intellect.

    Kerala had done some changes earlier too. One of them Calicut to Kozhikode is still being debated. The name Calicut has been around for longer than Kozhikode – and there are derived words such as Calico paper size that has come from this name.

  17. Two points here:

    1. It’s the present that’s hard. We are the ones who is facing the change. Adapting isn’t so easy. So, we all finding this name change quite odd. 10 years down the line all these names will look perfectly normal just as the present ones. Just Bombay and Madras look quite out of place and old, now. Having said that, I personally am NOT in favour of this name change.

    2. The question is not whether city names can be changed. They can definitely be. The question is whether why this, when so many other important issues are lying unattended to. Issues which have actual bearing on the city’s development and welfare of the Kannadigas. What’s the contribution of the protagonists of this change, to the present generation?

  18. changing names of existing cities is a stupid idea.and ur ananthamurthy is an idiot for being instrumental in this name switch.

  19. Prabhakara: That is highly uncalled for. I have utmost respect for UR Ananthamurthy. I think his work is brilliant. He’s free to hold an opinion on name change. Anyone does. It’s the government that is implementing a change without consensus. If anyone is an idiot, it is the government. URA has every right to suggest a name change.

  20. So, that UR guy has the right to an opinion but prabhakara does not?

  21. Instead of changing Names they should put their power, time and authroity in changing Indias IT capital Bangalore infrastructure. We need more roads a proper airport and clean city.I want to aks one question why you got nick name Bengaluru why not full name ? Benda Kaal Ooru?

    change of name is hardly the most important thing the city has to deal with.There other more thing to do about the city. why not Government bothered about that? Bangalore got Brand its took almost 20 years from some intelligent people from Bangalore to build this Brand in todays world.

    Only reason they took Bengaluru short nick name becuase of this brand its bit sound similar to Banglore.

    Call it by full name and you will see the reaction. Bangalore knows as Silicon Valley of Asia will surely be hit if you put full name.

    Either do it properly or dont do it. Simple. Government played a good game, he made kanada writers happy by saying that ok I got your name, and also thought bengaluru will keep the brand image that Bangalore got in world. Game of Politics not thing to do with any sentiments.

  22. Neha – I grew up in Chennai (and went to a CBSE school). In the 1970s and 80s, Hindi was a third language I had to learn till eight grade. There was no question of replacing Tamil — at least in my experience. Maybe that was because they fought it so hard in the 1960s, but in my experience, there was never an issue of Hindi taking precedence over Tamil as a language and the politicians were still gung-ho.

    I’m all for preserving culture (esp. as a Tamilian and all), but I hate it when politicians define themselves almost solely as anti-something. For a long-time, at least from my perspective as a child, TN politicians defined themselves as such.

  23. While anybody can hold a opinion against Ananthamurthy, and one cannot invalidate that, it’s fairly unfortunate that he is being perceived as a villain at once. If one has observed a series of Kannada related activities that have been happening in Karnataka over the last one year or so, one would find enough suggestions to see that he’s certainly not a hardliner or an antagonist of individual/minority rights. On the contrary, he’s been consistently facing the wrath of the hardliners for being too soft and not being concerned about “the language that brought him such fame”.
    —–

    Ekawaaz: Responding to only one of your statements – Bangalore is at least a little more than “the silicon valley of Asia” and less than “the silicon valley of Asia”.

  24. I Love the name “Bangalore” and intend to continue using it!

  25. Ravi

    This should have be done 50 years back… better late than never…
    Its all in the name… let first respect and pronunce the name of the place where we live. Will anyone of us accept if someone calls our name differently.. Same applies for our city our country….
    Long live ‘bangaluru’