Thursday, May 29, 2014

Decoding the Gujjus.

Achche din aane wale hain. After being subjected to a mute prime minister for ten full years we’ve finally been delivered a 56-inch walkie-talkie, powered by Red Bull. The talkie has sworn to spice up our lives with dhoklas and khakras. In preparation for the impending Delhi dandiya, we thought it might help to bring you up to speed with Gujarati surnames and their malaidaar origins.

First up is ‘Shah’. Now famous as the adornment that accompanies Amitbhai Anilchandra aka the hatchet man of NaMo urf the man who won the Uttar Pradesh lottery for BJP. Shah is not what you think. It’s not Persian in origin and it doesn’t mean ‘emperor’. On the contrary, it’s of a more local vintage, derived from ‘sahukar’ (merchant).

‘What about the ‘Patel’ in Anandiben Patel?’ you may ask. Well, the 24th most common surname in Britain, actually means ‘land owner’. Its distinguished cousins in other parts of the country include Patil, Patwari and Patwardhan.

Another Gujju name doing the rounds is Deepak Parekh, touted to be a technocrat who’ll wield a lot of clout in the Modi regime. It might interest you to know that ‘Parekh’ comes from the Hindi root word ‘Parakhna’ (to examine). Parekhs by nature were assayers who analysed the quality of metals in jewellery. Given his pedigree, let’s hope Deepak is able to sniff out precious policies from the pedestrian.

Many people assume NaMo to be India’s first Gujarati PM. That credit goes to Morarji Desai, best remembered as the country’s most illustrious advocate for the quaint pleasures of urine drinking. His surname (also common in Maharashtra) was birthed by a fusion of the words Desh Sai or literally ‘land lord’.

Since you’re likely to encounter many more Amdavadis, here’s a quick primer on some other renowned surnames: Vaghela or Baghels are a ‘race of the tigers’; the exalted Mehtas get their name from ‘Mahita’ (Sanskrit for acclaimed); the imperial Gaekwads have a rather humble origin – their surname decodes to ‘cow herd’; The ubiquitous Doshis have something in common with the Kapadias – both refer to ‘seller of clothes’; Mistry is a foreman; and Sir Jadeja is the moustached offspring of Jadhav or Yadav. I haven’t covered the Ambanis and Adanis. Because they are among the nation’s best kept secrets :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ab Ki Baar, Khichdi Sarkar!

By the time you sit down to read this piece, some early trends would have emerged on who’s gonna form the next government in India. To many people, the answer is a no-brainer. If you’ve been watching TV, reading newspapers and living off twitter feeds, you’d assume that Narendra Modi will end up with 700 out of a possible 543 seats.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the truth is a bit more complicated as we are a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential republic. In all probability, the likes of Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Jayalalithaa, Naveen Patnaik and Jagan might end up having a say in the government formation.

Let’s examine the possibilities using numerology. The results will be known on 16th May 2014. So there are two key numbers to bear in mind: 16 which works out to 7 (1+6) and 16/5/2014 which summates to 1. Usually, the one with a name number, birth number or fadic number (sum of all the digits of date of birth) that matches with 7 or 1, will have a fair shot at heading the government. That’s what happened with Manmohan Singh in 2009. His fadic number 5 resonated with the fadic number of 16/5/2009 (the date on which LS09 election results were announced).

The name number of NDA is 1. Which means, there’s a bright prospect of an NDA government. Curiously, Narendra Modi’s numbers are not aligned either to 1 or 7. On the contrary, Rajnath Singh’s is. So is Arun Jaitley’s. Does that mean that Rajnath or Arun might pip NaMo to the big post?

That’s what the numbers say. Such a scenario can only arise if the NDA falls short of majority by at least 40-50 seats. In which case new coalition partners would come into play.

Again a bit of number gazing throws potential partners. Jagan’s fadic number is 7. 1 is the fadic number of Mayawati and Naveen Patnaik. MK Stalin’s birth number is 1.Ditto with Nitish Kumar. Does that mean we are gonna end up with an NDA government backed by DMK, BSP, BJD, and YSR Congress? Seems highly unlikely, right? I hope so too. But numbers have an uncanny knack of ruling our lives. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for a bumpy ride!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Many Names of Rajinikanth

The bus conductor on Route 10A that plied between Srinagar and Majestic in Bangalore, during the bell bottom days, is now 63 something. He’s the age-defying god of gods with over 170 films under his belt. Just the other day, he announced his umpteenth project titled ‘Lingaa’ looking not a day older than forty with a macho moustache attesting to his to virility. Apparently a nod to his grandson (Dhanush has two boys: Linga and Yatra), the title got me thinking about the Shaivite streak in Rajinikanth movies.

Kochadaiiyaan, the motion capture animation flick directed by his daughter Soundarya, is but a synonym of the matted god aka Lord Shiva. If one looks back, Annamalai and Arunachalam have a direct Thiruvannamalai connection that seems quite obvious. Beyond that I couldn’t find any direct evidence to back my hypothesis. Sivaji, the Shankar film, apparently flows from his birth name Shivaji Rao Gaikwad.

But if one probes deeper, the superstar’s spiritual side shows enough manifestations from the late eighties. In Mappillai, he played the role of a character named ‘Aarumugam’ (the man with six faces – a reference to Lord Muruga). Then came Padayappa (the General of six armies) which was again an allusion to the son of Shiva. Coincidentally, in Chandramukhi, Rajini went by the moniker ‘Dr. Saravanan’.

To give due credit to the man, he made his religious leanings well known by hand picking the tales Sri Raghavendra and Baba. Curiously, the name most often sported by Rajinikanth on silver screen is ‘Kali’. First portrayed in Mullum Malarum, Kali made a reappearance in various forms in Murattu Kaalai, Kai Kodukkum Kai, Kaali and Adhisiya Piravi.

Lest you wrongly accuse him of being a militant saffronite, let me clarify that some of the best known Christian character names in Tamil Cinema were played by Rajini - right from ‘Johnny’, ‘Alex Pandian’ to ‘Michael – a true Christian’. Even the best known Muslim character in Kollywood - Baasha - was thalaivar’s.

Having made his debut as the rapist ‘Kondaji’, and after essaying baddies such as ‘Parattai’ and ‘Abaswaram’, Rajinikanth must have had the last laugh when he effortlessly slipped into the role of Inspector Arjun Ramojirao Shivajirao Gaikwad Jagdish Mulk Tange in Farishtay. In true Rajini style, he must have quipped, ‘Idhu, eppidi irukku’!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Blue Waters & White Sand

You’ve done enough of keyboard crunching, facebook reading and selfie gaping for the year. It’s time you pulled the plug on Candy Crush Saga and gifted yourself a real sweet vacation where you can shoot the breeze over a tequila sunset in a blue lagoon with Pink Floyd for aural company.

You should try destinations that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. We recommend islands with interesting name histories. Maldives, for instance. Derived from Maalai Theevu (‘garland of islands’ in Tamil), Maldives is apparently the lowest country in the world with an average ground level that’s just 1.5 meters above sea level. A necklace of 1900 coral islands, it’s a great holiday spot for snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing and by the way, coochie cooing.

If you’re a cultural gypsy, Bali might pique your curiosity. An ode to Vali, the vanara prince of Ramayana, who apparently moved to the island with his wife Tara and five hundred others, Bali is a predominantly Hindu region with over 20,000 temples. A volcano mountain, black sand beaches, dolphin tour, and the world’s most expensive coffee (made from cat poop) add to the Balinese charm.

If you’re the type who likes to mix business with pleasure, Canary Islands is the haven you must head to. Off the northwest coast of Africa, the Spanish archipelago inherited its name from Islas Canarias (Latin for ‘Island of the Dogs’) ostensibly because it contained ‘vast multitudes of dogs of very large size’. Ideal for some leisurely money laundering, Canary Islands also offers thrills such as designer-made salt water swimming pools, aquatic Thai-themed water park, diving trips to spot the endangered Loggerhead Turtle, and the third largest volcano.

For the well-heeled, we shall point you to the Venga Boys’ fantasy land ‘Ibiza’. Founded in 654 BC, and originally called ‘Ibossim’ as a dedication to Bes, the god of music and dance, the Mediterranean island in eastern Spain, is aptly the birth place of rave and the clubbing capital of the globe.

Then there’s Bahamas (Spanish for ‘low sea’), Madagascar (a corrupted form of Mogadishu as Marco Polo had confused it with the Somali port), and many more azure atolls. So set sail free spirit and come back with a catch of great memories.