Game of the name

Game of the name

My friend had just recovered from a bout of flu when I last met her. “The doctors say I had ortho viral fever. It was chikangunya that I was suffering from, you know. Doctors, these days call it ortho viral!” Though I cannot vouch for the medical authenticity of this piece of information, I do not quite comprehend the present trend of renaming things, places, trains, railway stations, airports and even diseases!

Triggered by convenience , demands or plain whims and fancies, this trend invariably turns you into a virtual Rip Wan Winkle if you happen to visit your old haunts. The old street you once walked along to school as a child, a nostalgic delight of your childhood, eludes you for hours even as the rickshawalla literally takes you for a ride. All because the place has received a new name to accommodate some budding celebrity.

Like the present trend of girls sporting two family names — one of the family she is born into and the other of the one she marries into (of course, a befitting way of honouring the one that brought her up and the other that welcomed her into). While new names can be added to the old ones as a means to avoid confusion, yet, over a period of time, it can turn into the case of the medicine becoming worse than the disease — the new names keep getting added till the list is longer than the street it is meant to indicate!

This confusion is not confined to streets, roads and public places alone but our houses too. And you realise this, when the snail mail you painstakingly posted lands back into your post box either because the addressee’s house, named after the mother of the family, changes its name at the behest of a daughter-in-law or a family falls out of grace of the deity after whom the house was named or simply because the modern generation wants a more stylish name!

Think of the state of affairs when airports, railway stations and bus stations — the lifelines connecting the country — strut about with new hard-on-the- tongue names that are a mouthful! And, all this when we , as a globe-trotting generation, takes delight in Indian names being distorted to suit foreign tongues no sooner than we settle in foreign lands turning Harsh into Harry, Krishna into Kris, Lalitha into Lolitha!

The modern infatuation for naming natural calamities like storms, hurricanes, floods, and even creatures is, to say the least, intriguing! Researchers have named spiders after celebrities as a way of honouring them! The celebrities, of course, not the creatures!

We have hurricane Maria, storm Ophelia, and cyclone Ockhi. But why are most of these names feminine begs a question.