Jun 26, 2008

All in a Name - Fun Read

Reading signboards and nameplates is a unique pleasure. It gives one a peep into the psyche of the person who came up with the imaginative name. I got into the habit of memorising signboards and nameplates quite early and am thrilled to come across unusual word plays. I often wonder about the creative souls who must be languishing in prosaic vocations, never having got the right break! Among the very first boards that caught my attention was a barber's shop in Pune. The owner has donned the Sanskritised moniker, calling his establishment 'Kesh Kartanalaya', transforming a simple barber shop into a centre of artistic work, distinct from mere mundane activity. That reminds me of an occasion when one smelled a genius at a popular Mumbai restaurant, known for its seafood, especially fish preparations. It's called 'Excellensea', conveying a lot about the owner and the establishment. A sari shop will capture the attention of a lady. But in Andheri, Mumbai, a shop known for its exotic stock attracts the attention of men, too, not because of the visitors, but for its name. 'Wraptures' will gladden the heart of any lexicographer, sending him into raptures at finding a kindred soul in such an unlikely place. Certain names are too archaic, however. 'Petrol Supplying Company' has been doing business — undisturbed — for a long time in central Mumbai, while other, even less busy, such outlets are adopting jet-age titles like 'Autoport'. Still, one needs to acknowledge the talent for choosing outstanding names that abounds in India. A foreign visitor was impressed with shop names in our country — one of the tiniest shops in an obscure corner of Chandni Chowk market in Delhi calls itself 'Universal Trading Company'! There is no shortage of proud owners of a variety of businesses, irrespective of the size of their empire. For example, a 'Maharashtra Trading Company' will be found in almost every town and village in that state. It could be selling anything from slates to hardware, underwear, medicines, building materials or cereals. Gods, too, are propitiated. It's no wonder then that Balaji is among the most popular deities where commerce is concerned. There are real estate agents, dealing in property in the holy name of Sri Balaji, or builders, perhaps hoping for atonement for their defamed business. Shri Krishna dairy farms are commonplace, but what took my breath away was the 'Jai Hanuman Fertility Clinic'.

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