Saturday, March 19, 2011

Moron & the Art of Airport Naming

Politicians of the world are not exactly airheads. They are smarter than you think. Decades of defeats and victories have taught them one priceless lesson – public memory is woefully short. Almost Ghajini like. After a point, no one remembers who looted the country, who screwed around with the economy, who botched up wars, who looked the other way during genocides and who sold our national secrets for a song. All one cares to recollect is what is written on the national mementoes.

That psychological insight is the reason why our netas name roads, parks, stations, dams, localities and airports after themselves. Their logic is simple. The more Indira Gandhis, Mao Zedongs and JFKs you see, the more you think of them as flawless legends.

Thankfully some nations think differently. The United Kingdom is a classic example. None of their 40 odd airports are named after has-been leaders or long-gone kings. Even Churchill, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, and Princess Diana haven’t been accorded this privilege. Instead, rock stars, football legends and honorable thieves have been immortalized by English terminals. Cases in point: the Liverpool John Lennon Airport , George Best Belfast City Airport and Robin Hood Doncaster Airport!

Italy is another exception. Key cities here, celebrate historical figures rather than just the big fat politician. Genoa Airport for example, is named after Christopher Columbus. Rome has embraced Leonardo Da Vinci. Federico Fellini is Rimini’s pick. Pisa has opted for Galileo Galelei. And Marco Polo stares at you when you land in Venice.

If Italy has a fixation for painters and scientists, America loves its musicians, actors and cartoonists. Louis Armstrong, John Wayne, Bob Hope and Charles Schulz have befitting namesake airports in New Orleans, Orange County, Burbank and Sonoma County. Can you believe that? I mean, imagine having an RK Laxman Airport in Mysore!

Not all countries bore you to death with done to death celebrity names. Some nations have unwittingly selected bizarre names that can bring a much needed smile to your jet-lag weary face. Try Tanzania’s Mafia, Mongolia’s Moron, Guyana’s Ogle, Canada’s Deception and Australia’s Useless Loop Airport. Ain’t it all, flight-hearted?