Thursday, October 25, 2012

Naming, Jest For Fun.

India is at war with itself. There are a million mutinies brewing now that should make a VS Naipaul proud. Viru is up in arms against Dhoni. Hesh and Lee are still at loggerheads. Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal don’t see eye to eye. There is talk of Vasundhara Raje rebelling against the BJP. Sharad Pawar is plotting against Prithviraj Chavan. And Mamata is abetting Mulayam’s uprising against the UPA.

Meanwhile the landless are livid, the middle class is mad, factory workers are furious and industrialists are irate. In this agitated atmosphere, we look like a country on the verge of reaching our boiling point. May be it’s time we cooled off with a little levity. What we sorely need today is a bit of everyday humour to perk ourselves up.

I have an elegant solution to cure our collective grouchiness. Let’s start by giving our newborns some really whimsical names.

Suppose you happen to be a bloke named Ram with a soft corner for the saffron party, you can actually plan on procreating a mini Sangh Parivar by naming your kids: Narendra, Sushma, Arun, Yashwant and Nitin. If Sushma wants to tonsure her head at the drop of a hat, Narendra is a riot, Arun grows up to be the Argumentative Indian, Yashwant insists on micro managing your budget and Nitin earns a mota maal, then you’ll have proof for the saying ‘ram naam satya hai’ (ram’s names were right)!

In case you’re Padma Nabhan, the deprived soul who’s never even won a participation certificate, you can light up your life by calling your kids ‘Padma Shree’, ‘Padma Bhushan’ and ‘Padma Vibhushan’. This way, you’ll become the toast of your kith and kin and every time you go to a family function with your children in tow, everyone will want a photo-op with your award-winning family.

And if you’re Pradeep Sarkar, how about naming your son as Bharat Sarkar? At least that’ll give you the legitimate bragging rights to claim ‘Ab Bharat Sarkar mera hai' (the Indian government is mine).

Now that you know the trick to spread some sunshine, go on, spawn a thousand fun names!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Art of Ridiculing Politicians

Politicians are not as rhino-skinned as you think. They do shed a tear or two over three things: I, Me and Myself. So when you’re dealing with such self-obsessed megalomaniacs, it helps to either boost or burst their egos. And the easiest way to bring them to their senses is by mocking at their Teflon-coated names.

Let’s demonstrate the power of name calling through a recent example. From Lajpat Nagar to Lal Bagh, everyone now knows about Robert Vadra the businessman and his many spotlessly clean, ‘highest ethical standard’ transactions with DLF by following the laws and in-laws of the land.

Despite the negative press and the multiple tongue lashings he’s received from the mango men at the IAC, our dear Raabert displays no sense of contrition. But no matter how smug-faced Mr. Priyanka Gandhi may be, he cannot escape from the unflattering ‘Robber Vadra’ label he’s earned from the mocking birds.

As days roll on, no one will remember the crores of rupees exchanged or the acreage of favours delivered, all that will stick is ‘Robber Vadra’. Make no mistake. That will really hurt, as even a petty thief doesn’t like to be called a ‘chor’.

Talking of political nicknames, the firebrand Arvind Kejriwal has been a worthy recipient of many monikers from his detractors. Khujliwal (meaning ‘the one with the itch’) and Kachdawal (‘one who dishes out rubbish’) are two names that have gained traction with BJP and Congress supporters.

Those who pooh pooh the damage wreaked by mock names should just see what ‘Bliar’ did to Tony Blair. It not only portrayed him as a master of doublespeak but also ended up destroying his political career in a snap.

That’s why leaders can ill afford to ignore the ramifications of a pesky nickname. That’s why a Mitt Romney needs to actively speak up on issues intelligently if he sees ‘Mute Romney’ going viral. Obama has to come to terms with ‘Oh Bummer!’ and do everything in his means to fight the ‘disappointment’ perception. India’s princeling has to come through as smart if he wants to outgrow the ‘Rahul Buddhu’ tag. And our Manmohan must stop being ‘Maunmohan’.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Real Taste of Bombaat

We, the deprived citizens of Chennai, are forever envious of Bangalore. Not only do you guys have all the water in the world but also the hippest watering holes, the hottest jobs, the coolest chicks, the rockiest rock shows and even the yummiest restaurant names.

If the last bit is news to you, then you better visit every one of the restaurants listed here and order a Fresh Lime Soda Salted to celebrate your discovery. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to raise a toast to me for serving you this worthless piece of trivia.

Okay, let’s now dive into the meat. Coming from a city full of boringly named Bhavans, I was utterly delighted to stumble upon the South Indian joint called South Indies. Tucked away in Indira Nagar, South Indies is a fabulously franchisable moniker that evokes the joy of sipping a piping hot Kumbakonam Degree Coffee while soaking into the rhythmic riffs of Carnatic Reggae.

Three Quarter Chinese was another quaint name that caught my eye. The reason I flipped for it is simple: All of us have seen so many Chinese joints that also serve Indian food. But no one’s made a virtue of it. Here’s a chain that unabashedly proclaims that its menu has 75% Chinese and 25% North Indian food. I found that cute. BTW, which came first Thermal And A Quarter or Three Quarter Chinese?

Phileas Hogg in Marthahalli, is one more sparkler that can pull any passerby inside with its college humour charm. To me, it’s the perfect restaurant name. It’s not overtly wannabe and yet, it sets the right expectation of cuisines from around the world.

The Vietnamese Phobidden Fruit , the Korean Soo Ra Sang (meaning ‘fit for a king’), the resto bar Ruh (Arabic for ‘spirit’) and the Mexican Habanero (a real red hot chilly pepper) piqued me too.

But the ones that make it to my Top 3 are, Toit (the Irish way of saying ‘tight’ - a slang word that means both ‘with it’ and ‘hooters’), 69 Seconds (69 symbolises the single quotes) and the very playful I & Monkey. Agree maadi?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Comical Names of Comedians.

In the poverty stricken days of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, nobody took comedians seriously. Even if you were born with 206 funny bones, no one would notice you, as there was no concept of stand-up acts, mimicry or Lollu Sabhas. The only mass medium of entertainment was Tamil Cinema, a world dominated by singing heroes, crying heroines and scheming villains.

To be deemed humorous, you had to be supremely talented and more importantly, you needed a name that evoked a smile. That’s probably why many funny men of the past consciously spiced up their pedestrian name with a titter-inducing prefix.

K.A. Thangavelu was one of the earliest comics to use this trick. He promoted himself as ‘Danaal’ Thangavelu. Everywhere he went, the director used to ask him the same question, ‘What the heck is Danaal?’ and he used to recount gleefully that the character he played in his debut flick ‘Singari’ had this mannerism of repeating the word ‘danaal’ all through. The mannerism became popular and hence the name.

Likewise Sundaresa Ramamurthy once played the role of a cartoonist called Kathadi (Tamil for ‘kite’) in Cho Ramaswamy’s play ‘If I Get It!’ From that day, he chose to call himself ‘Kathadi’ Ramamurthy.

‘Thengai’ Srinivasan has a similar story. Having played a coconut seller who walked away with the applause in ‘Kal Manam’, he decided to announce himself to the film world as ‘Thengai’.

Even the Stan Laurelesque ‘Omakuchi’ Narasimhan picked his quirky screen name from the reed thin character he played in the stage play ‘Naradarum Naangu Thirudargalum’. In comparison, Loose Mohan had it easy. He just borrowed it from his dad ‘Loose Arumugham’ who in turn earned his spurs in the drama ‘Tight and Loose’!

Suruli Rajan didn’t have to resort to any such tomfoolery as he was named after his family deity with an amusing name - Suruli Vellapar, the god on the hilltop graced by the Suruli waterfalls. Suruli, by the way, means ‘the curled one’.

Idichapuli Selvaraj, Venniradai Murthy, Goundamani and Crazy Mohan have carried on the zany tradition. Sadly, the Viveks, Vadivels and Santhanams of today are no longer mirthful.