Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Best Names of 2012

A name is a tattoo that gets etched in the brain. A forgettable name is like a temporary tattoo while a memorable name is a permanent tattoo that leaves a lasting impression.

The year 2012 threw up thousands of instantly vanishing brain tattoos, a few erasably average imprints, and some indelible ones that actually made a deep impact. I am gonna serve you the cream of the cream, culled out by yours truly.

Best Band Name: It was a toss up between the party punk peddling Ohio band ‘Hookers Made Out Of Cocaine’ and the Australian garage pop duo ‘Bleeding Knees Club’. ‘Hookers’ seems like a concoction designed to create shock value, while BKC does the job without really trying too hard. So my vote is for the Bleeders.

Best Named English Movie: Four films caught my eye. The Osama manhunt themed ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, Bruce Willis starrer ‘The Cold Light of Day’, romantic comedy ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ and the time travel drama ‘Looper’. I picked none of these. Instead, I flipped for the bombastic appeal of ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’.

Best Bollywood Title: In a field populated with foul-mouthed college slangers like ‘Kismet Paisa Love Dhoka (KLPD)’, ‘Bumboo’ and ‘Fatso’, comedy drama ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’, Shoojit Sircar’s ‘Vicky Donor’ and Gauri Shinde’s ‘English Vinglish’ felt a lot more evolved. In the end, the prancing car won the race for its out-of-the-box titling.

Best South Indian Film Title: Rajamouli’s runaway hit starring the humble housefly had a clever name in ‘Eega’. But more fascinating were Balaji Mohan’s sophomorish ‘Kaadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi’, Prabhu Solomon’s refreshingly catchy ‘Kumki’ and the brilliantly named ‘Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom’. Packaging an amnesia tale by alluding to missing chapters in the middle was truly ingenious. So NKPK it is.

Best Book Title: Breathe easy folks. The mommy porn ’50 Shades of Grey’ is not my winner. That crown belongs to Ryan Holiday’s ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’, the confessions of a media manipulator!

Best Celebrity Baby Name: Ash’s ‘Aaradhya’ or Uma Thurman’s 7-word wonder ‘Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson’ was no match for Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Tennesssee’- a charming nod to the playwright Tennessee Williams!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Harvesters of The End.

The ‘Gangnam’ guy Psy, the feminist Russian punk-rock band Pussy Riot, the Higgs-Boson particle and the Mars Rover Curiosity are among the oddballs in the reckoning for the iconic Time ‘Person of the Year’ title.

The chap leading the pack at the moment is the boyish North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. Left to myself, I’d say, no one deserves the crown better than the Mayans. As they alone are responsible for making 2012, the most over hyped year after 1984.

The doomsday aura surrounding the 12/21/12 Mayan Prophecy is palpable all around. Everyone, everywhere, is either tweeting or texting about it. Advertisers, ever the milkmen, are on an overdrive milking every drop of publicity through some cheeky fear mongering.

Axe was the earliest to jump on to the apocalypse bandwagon. Sometime, last year, they launched the ‘AXE 2012 - Final Edition’ deodorant with the sensual power to attract bimbos hiding in even nuclear bunkers.

South Carolina based Latitude 32 credit union, was a bit more brazen. They announced the Mayan ‘End of the World’ auto loan special with the rider that the loan would be forgiven ONLY if the world crashes on December 21st!

Global Chain TGIF is classier. It’s urging customers to live it up on the fateful day by celebrating the ‘Last Friday’ at their key joints in America. On offer is free access to the dance floor to 21 year olds and the proceeds from the sale of Mayan Margaritas will be donated to charity.

If TGIF couched it with a little social spin, some others like Proof Drinks have no such pretensions. They are out in London organising fortnight long Gastronomic Events under the ‘Last Supper Club’ banner.

Meanwhile, History Channel is squeezing the last drop for TRPs by running programs that present as many doomsday scenarios as possible. Breweries have joined the Armageddon party by launching unique short-life drinks that are ‘brewed to not last’. Not to be left behind, Durex Condoms has put out a print campaign, exhorting men to ‘Go out with a bang’!

But the one that takes the cherry is Survivalist Singles, an online dating site for like-minded people who ‘don’t wish to the face the future alone’!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tamil Footprints in Armenia

The Armenian Church in Chennai was built in the year 1712. Contrary to what historians would like us to believe, the Church is not the only umbilical cord that connects Tamil Nadu to Armenia. The relationship is far more ancient. In fact, there is now linguistic evidence to back the claim that Tamil blood used to flow in the veins of Armenians around 140 BC.

Before I unveil a few exhibits to bolster my arguments, let’s see what the genes say. The Armenian DNA has 35% R1b and 8% R1a – two of the most typical genetic groups in South India. What that means is: we may share the same forefathers!

Let me muddle your mind further by bringing Yerevan into the equation. Yerevan, the capital and largest city of Armenia, is said to have been named after King Yervand IV. Many early manuscripts pronounce Yerevan as Erevan, Iravan and Erivan. Now just utter the name aloud. Doesn’t Yerevan sound like the Tamil word Iraivan (meaning god)?

And where was the Yerevan kingdom located? In Urartu. The Ur in Urartu bears a striking resemblance to the Tamil Oor (meaning city). If that felt like a bit of a stretch, how about examining Lake Sevan?

Sevan, Urmia and Van are the three great lakes in Armenia. Most strangely so, Vanam in Tamil cues forest; Sev-vanam translates to red forest (may be the allusion is to Lake Sevan being the breeding ground for the red-crested duck); and Urumi means curled sword. Considering, Urmia lake derives its roots from Urmia, the warrior kingdom, that fits perfectly.

The coincidences get more predictable as we study Armenian surnames. Let’s try and interpret the Kardashian in Kim Kardashian. Karkal in our mozhi means ‘stones’ and dasan means ‘one who is dedicated to’, so Kardasan must be a stone craftsman. You’d be amazed to know that Kardashian means a ‘stone sculptor’ in Armenian!

The sense of déjà vu grows when you notice that a large chunk of Armenian surnames end with either –ian or –yan. Coming from a state that’s full of Vijayans, Narayans and Subramanians, we don’t need a better cultural connect, do we?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Above Average Party

After sifting through 40,000 emails, the usually astute Arvind Kejriwal picked the most pedestrian name for the party targeted at the man on the street.

Aam Aadmi Party or AAP should easily rank as the KLPD of the Year. On par with Sachin Tendulkar’s string of Maggi Noodle style performances against Mr. Cook’s boys.

Being a tacit supporter of the anti-graft movement, I was suitably aghast when I heard of the underwhelming name. AAP might be the respectful way of saying ‘You’ in Hindi but in Chennai, aapu only means one thing: letdown!

So why did Team Kejriwal choose a spectacularly ordinary Hindi label when they had infinitely better options? I suspect numerology might be the culprit. Aam Aadmi Party adds up to 6 in both Pythagorean and Chaldean numerology. Considering the party was launched on 26/11/2012 (which again summates to 6), there does seem some mysterious connect.

We can solve the puzzle by looking at India’s birth number which happens to be 15th or 1+5 = 6. Kejriwal’s twin heroes Bhagat Singh and Anna Hazare share the same name number.

“What’s the big deal with 6?” you may ask. Well, it’s the birth number of powerful people like AR Rahman, J Jayalalithaa, Tendulkar, Mayawati, and Arundhati Roy. Considering 2013 is going to be the electoral debut year for AAP, six will come into play again.

Given all this mumbo jumbo, did Arvind the IIT-ian make the right gamble? The mind may say YES but the heart still feels cheated. AAP is indeed a massive compromise. It panders to the lowest common denominator and denies the movement, the branding edge it deserved. Worse still, it’s a clear Intellectual Property violation of the ‘Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath’ slogan.

Personally, I would have preferred the nationalistic ‘Jai Hind’ or the ideologically correct ‘Swaraj Party’. But then, these names will position Kejriwal as a right winger when he desperately wants to be seen as a left liberal.

Now that we can’t do much about it, let’s just hope that the voter does a Nazia Hassan and sings: AAP jaisa koi mere zindagi mein aaye toh baath ban jaaye!