Friday, 24 January 2014

Bring on the Indian names

In Rendezvous with Rama, arguably the greatest science fiction book of all time, the spacecraft is called Rama. Arthur C Clarke, the legendary science fiction writer, casually throws in that since all the names of the Greek and Roman Gods had already been taken in astronomy, they had turned to Hindu names - and hence Rama. Arthur C Clarke was a great predictor of future events, although he wrote fiction.  He was the predictor of geostationary satellites, long before it became a reality. So perhaps his  prediction of Hindu names might come true as well.

Well, astronomical names are still monopolised by the Greeks and Romans, but at least in the field of computer engineering, Indian names have started to  peep in. Kaveri, AMD's latest APU (whatever an APU means) is really the inspiration for this post. - what a nice and easy sounding name Kaveri is. Intel chips are boringly named (madam, are you listening) - Pentium, x86, Core and LGA are sleep inducing as hell. Apple is horrendous - iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes,  and what next iWatch, iPants, iShirt, iUnderwear ?? Google, that funky company of Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, KitKat, etc etc is still strictly for kids .  Android sounds so intimidating - surely a team which is led by a guy called Sundar Pichai can  think of a better Indian name. In that pathetic conundrum, Kaveri stands out.

Auto guys are another interesting bunch for names. Unfortunately that's a masculine macho bunch, but still, Corolla, Accord, Sunny, Elantra,  and, horribly, 3 series, 5 series - what the hell.  Granted nobody will buy a car named Gina Lollobrigida, but still, can't they come up with better names ? I am forced to choose between an i10, i20, i342, 800, SX4, City,  ......... Granted I wouldn't like to be seen in a Urvashi (note that the stated preposition is "in" and not "with" :)), but I wouldn't mind a Toyota Ganges.

Paradoxically, the most hilarious namers are the real estate companies in India. Take your pick on where you would like to stay - Chartered Beverly Hills, Nitesh Key Biscayne, Brigade Caladium, Brooklyn Heights and my favourite of all - Mugalivakkam Maami trying to stay in La Celeste !!!! Surely your address cannot be Flushing Meadows, Ramagondanahalli. Even more Ugh sounding are where a very obvious Indian family name is tied in to a supposedly "glamorous"  name. What about Purvankara Whitehall or Salarpuria Pentagon.  Yuk.

So wake up world. Anglo Saxon names are passe. French names are unpronounceable. Eastern European names won't fit into Twitter and have improbable combinations of x,z,w and q. Chinese names have no romance - surely Fang Cao Yuan doesn't sound interesting enough. African names are unknown.  So where else to go ? Come to India.

How about a Brahma chipset. Or a Krishna car. Indus watches. Yamuna mobiles. Maybe comet Ganesh. And wouldn't I love to live in Kailash.  Surely Uma Thurman would approve.

The only problem is if there is a Ramamritham mobike or a Rajalakshmi handbag !!!!


Sriram Khé said...

Nitesh Key Biscayne??? Really? What the heck does that mean???

But, yes, there is something more serious here. I would hypothesize that within India, as with many other countries, "local names" don't begin to make impressions as brands in the initial stages. As a friend in the IT world said, now they boldly and proudly eat thayir saadam for lunch across the table from the visiting American or European. I would think that kind of confidence will mean that slowly you will see a lot more indigenous names within India. When that happens, surely, I too would love to live in Kailash with Uma Thurman ... muahahaha ;)

Similarly here in the US too. I suspect that AMD's Kaveri is only the beginning.

BTW, what is your obsession with Gina Lollobrigida? Seriously! Did you watch Come September during those highly impressionable teenage years? hehehe ;)

Ramesh said...

There's really an insane fascination for foreign sounding names amongst the builders. Really crazy.

Oh no - I am strictly in the Ingrid Bergman camp. What a charming, lovely, stunning, svelte, superb, beautiful, adorable, etc etc etc etc lady :):)

Sriram Khé said...

ok, then ... this one should keep you going for a while ;)

Sandhya Sriram said...

I just hope the trend now doesnt flow into naming children!! thankfully most people still name children with something that is fairly indianish though not with too much meaning.

b.t.w, Rama is not necessarily Indian. In Greek Mythology Rama (Rhema) is the language in which God Speaks. Rama is extensively used in Arabic and supposedly appears 50 times in the Quran. There was an Isralite City called Ramah and it is a word also found in Hebrew.

So maybe whether you call it Kaveri or Kwai or Kamarang - i would only say - Whats in a name?

Asha said...

Oh! interesting to note about a new Rama and Kaveri.

If not the world, atleast Indians should think about giving Indian names especially the builders.

Maybe, compiling a book of indian names for apartments like Maneka Gandhi did for baby names can help. what say? said...

How about Abithakuchalambal for a brand of jewelry and Rathnamrithakadeswaran for range of men's wear? Forget Armani, Gucci etc !

Ramesh said...

@Sandhya - Just goes to show how much we have missed you here. Never knew "Rama" was an import. You say "what's in a name" - no way. What a world of difference between Rajalakshmi and Sandhya :):)

@Asha - Don't even get started on baby names. Indian allright, but the fance for giving names tongue twisting rare names does not appeal to me one bit. Better to have such graceful names as Asha :)

@kvbigman - Oh Noooooooooooo :)

The Million Miler said...

Ah! I thought this was going to be a post about Arthur C Clark (who probably matches the greatness of Asimov in SciFi). Interestingly enough the first (probably) to adopt an Indian Name was the French composer Leo Delibes who wrote the music for the ballet "Lakme" (I reckon, that's the closest the French could get to pronouncing Lakshmi) And for those who travel on British Airways, the lilting signature tume ( is an excerpt from Lakme!

Ramesh said...

@Kiwi - Aha - I was waiting for your remonstration that Thalassa was better than Rama :):)

Yes, there is also a popular version that Lakme, the cosmetics brand was also so named by Simone Tata as an anglicised version of Lakshmi, but I am not so sure that both cases were anything more than a coincidence.

Oh yes, the great BA ad - one of the all time great ads.

Anonymous said...

All medias ignored PADMASHREE VENKATAPATHY, who got padmashree award recently for his achievement in agriculture. His contribution is commendable. please spare some time & encourage such rare achievers if we need real progress for the nation. (this is irrelevant to post but bringing such progress to light will encourage more people in involve such progress)

Prats said...

ROFL!!! Nice take. I wouldn't mind a Toyota Ganges either. I actually thought when they launched Opel "Astra" it was the Hindi "Astra" as in weapon but sadly was very disappointed.

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