Thursday, June 5, 2014

Inner City Express

We are all frogs in our own shallow wells with little or no interest in what the other toads are up to. We show a semblance of interest in the rest of the world only if it fills our time or adds to our utility in any way. I am no exception. My universe begins at home and ends at office. Any place outside this radius is another galaxy.

So when somebody asked me, the other day, about the origins of the name Secunderabad, I just froze like a zombie. A little demon in my head whispered: make something up and sound knowledgeable. With all seriousness I could muster, I told my audience very authoritatively that since Secunderabad happens to be the twin city, they coined the term ‘Second-rabad’. And over time it became Secunderabad. My friends nodded wisely and left me in peace.

Ashamed at myself, I decided to atone for life by learning about as many cities as I can. I decided to start with India. And swore to figure out the etymology of all the places I’ve never been to. I call this mental journey the ‘Inner City Express’. Hop on and take the window seat to catch a glimpse of what I’ve picked so far.

Agartala is not an iffy lock. It’s a made up name from Agar (a perfume tree) & tala (a store house). Apparently, the capital city of Tripura was teeming with these trees once upon a time. That’s why!

Buxar has no connection with boxers. It’s a derivation from Bagh-Sar or Tiger Tank. The story goes that Rishi Vedshira who had been cursed by badass Durvasa to have a tiger face, got back his handsome looks when he took a dip in the tank.

Aizawl literally means a field of wild cardamoms. Warangal is from ‘orugallu’ or ‘the city built from one stone’. Cuttack is the anglicised version of the Sanskrit ‘Katak’ (fort). Gulbarga is Persian for ‘flower garden’. Ludhiana was originally called ‘Lodi-Ana’ (the Lodi’s Palace) - after the dynasty that established the city. Nainital got its name from the Naina Devi temple near the tal (lake). Likewise, Mangalore is named after the local deity Mangaladevi. I’ve got many more stories. Will share them the day you find out about Secunderabad!