Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Name Game

Picture: Flickr.com
We are at the local grocery shop in my apartment. The owner, a native of eastern UP, offers sweets and invites us for the inauguration of his new shop in another apartment complex.

‘Congratulations. Where is the new shop?’

‘Erotica.’

I almost choke on the laddu.

‘What?’ I mean where?’

‘Erotica,’ he says happily. ‘Near the Masterpee Building.’

The husband nudges me, ‘He means The Exotica, near the Masterpiece Building.’


If you happen to live in an emerging city like Gurgaon, all too often, you will come across luxury condominiums with fancy names such as Miami Mansions, Belvedere Boulevard and Vista Villas. As long as the NRI’s are investing, the builders are least concerned about the phonetic challenges faced by house-helps, drivers and maids.

After all, the bijou abodes of globetrotting residents cannot be called Shanti Dhams or Prem Kutirs. When you shell out a fortune for Hollywood Heights, Trinity Towers or Eagleton Estates, you deserve to evoke that perfect emotion of admiration tinged with envy and awe among your peers. Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness, never lived in an apartment called Sovereign Sojourn with a heated swimming pool and all weather VRV air-conditioning.

So far away from the Palladiums, Boulevards and Avenues of California, we have our very own islands of excellence. The apartments may be exotically christened but that is as far as modernity goes. Step out and reality hits when a mound of construction rubble greets you, and you realize that your fancy abode lacks sewer lines, gets power that is generator generated, and that the drinking water often gets mixed with sewage lines.

I wonder if Greenwood Villa would be any less modern if it was called Goverdhan Vilas? After all, what’s in a name? That which we call Blooming Bougainvilleas by any other name would be as beautiful. Right?

Wrong.

Perception. In a city like Gurgaon, Pune or Bangalore where every second resident has kissed foreign shores, your social existence hinges on packaging and perception. Ponty and Monty may have paved way for more traditional Parth and Manas, but the names of our abodes  match their western counterparts. All because, every generation wants new names to identify with their signature personality. Nothing wrong with it at all.

But I honestly feel for those who struggle to get the pronunciation right, as I am reminded of my own struggle with Gucci, Givenchy and Cannes. It is a double edged sword. Correctly pronouncing a foreign name can make you sound either too pretentious or too cool. For that matter, I still don’t know how to sputter ‘Raison d’être’. The funny thing is that we find it cute when a foreigner says ‘Daily’ for ‘Delhi’ but we take potshots at anyone who can’t pronounce ‘Leicester’ with a British lisp.

As I write, new 'global' residential projects are being launched and my social standing is likely to be dented. How am I going to pronounce Le Cirque, or The Royal Monceu?

( Originally published in Friday Gurgaon.)

Enhanced by Zemanta

42 comments:

  1. By God! Are you saying that I might not be pronouncing the names of my 3 Dreamz Villey right?

    The funnest piece in a while...because ALL of it is true! Bloody Jokers we all are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dreamz Valley or Dreamz Villas become Dreaded Villas after one monsoon.

      :)

      Delete
  2. I was nodding at every sentence . Gurgaon has all these high flying names that you mention .. but then we Indians believe in pretense don't we ! I still live in good old DDA flats in Delhi .. I suppose snooty gurgaon would look down on that :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The best thing about most DDA flats is their location. Everything is close by.
      Gurgaon is India's Singapore they say. Bullshit.

      Delete
  3. pronunciation accidents.. way too many :P
    I see my mum struggle for simple English words and on the other hand Me... Fancy French/Spanish/British words..
    they are too enticing to ignore but Damn this Indian tongue.. it refuses to role in foreign way :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. French ones are tough. And why should it roll the French way?
      Desi rules.

      Delete
  4. A good and interesting take on the people who believe that by keeping anglisized names their credibility will rise!! I dont know when Indians will love to be Indians!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. hehe Yep, we have all of these and more! Kya karen show off ka mamla hai!

    ReplyDelete
  6. True - We have Lake view and St. John Woods here - I wonder where they get lakes and woods in the middle of the crowded polluted city here. By the way that erotica- exotica was a cool one. I would not have believed it if I had not seen it first hand in a Kanpur restaurant where they were purportedly serving Biryani made with erotic spices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, ha. yes, I have seen St John Woods. They are nestled deep in the concrete woods of Koramangala.

      Delete
  7. I see the same scene being played out in Bangalore. Its all about exotic packaging and cool names which most people trip over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BTW Bangalore is less pretentious. But yes, the trend is getting viral.

      Delete
  8. Somehow giving building names with European, especially Italian names is the norm. Some of them even border on the absurd, but we are hung up on erotic....er exotic names, aren't we? :) I am in the same boat as you when it comes to pronouncing some of these fancy names!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a pleasure to have you back Zephyr. Thank you for reading.

      Delete
  9. That's one for an Erotic err... Exotic post! Very nice indeed...I find the mention of how "Correctly pronouncing a foreign name can make you sound either too pretentious or too cool." I find in most cases its just considered pretentious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a double edged sword. A lot depends on the audience.

      Delete
  10. Ours is simple..Westend Heights and we have none who can't pronounce it right

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even the Bangla Migrants? Most of them say OWE for W. As in Oest Bengal.

      Delete
  11. Alka, this trend has grown as an epidemic! Par gadhae ko paint kar ke ghoda to nahi ban sakta, as the drainage, city planning etc is all thrown to the winds despite fancy names:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. The only reason I like Gurgaon is because... I don't have to stay there. My cousin brother stays there, with 2 irresistable babies, and I see what he is doing :( Ma'm, isn't it a bit too much ? The pretentions I mean.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes. But we all find like minded people. Luckily we have a grounded, educated, humble group of like minded friends.

      Delete
  13. It's unthinkable to live in an apartment complex that doesn't match your firang accent. I remember reading about Krrish Mode De Provence apartments. Wonder if they are still under construction!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, ha. Wonder how my house help from Jharkhand will cope with Mode De Provence.

      Delete
  14. India is no more a country, it's a mob with disturbing delusions of superiority. ले सियक्य, ले मोन्द, ले थुक्य, ले गोन्द - मेर्सि बोक्हू!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have islands of excellence stuck like sequins in a fabric that is rotting. Sad but true.

      Delete
  15. Alka,

    Visiting after a long time. Find it difficult to catch up with all pending posts for reasons you know. I also wonder at times the names given to housing complexes or colonies at times. I do not know why can we not stick to some easy names remembered by one and all.

    Take care

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thankfully, I live in a piece of land called Niti Khand and it is flanked by Abhay, Gyan, Shakti and Ahinsa Khands. The irony? It is situated in Uttar Pradesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The constituents of our Hooda ji are western compared to Hindi speaking voters of Behenji or Mullayam ji, hence the exotic nomenclature.

      Delete
  17. LOL!! I'm at Bangalore now with my in-laws in an apartment called 'Kilbirne' housed inside a never-ending housing park complex where residents often get lost. Being a guest, I 'have' to get lost! and then finding kill-bir-ne is an adventure because none of the army of security guys remember the names of these apartments, they have devised their own number system.
    Nice to see you weave stories out of these emerging trends:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And how does one pronounce that? This is new and even more exotic than The Bellaire.

      Delete
  18. hilarious and at the same time thought provoking post Alka. Loved it to bits.

    ReplyDelete
  19. very nice post!! I enjoyed every bit of this..these days when almost every one has visited this or that foreign country, they have that irresistible innate urge to do things that can attract jealous glances and awe from pple..even kids have become annoyingly snobbish when it comes to showing off!

    ReplyDelete
  20. '‘Erotica,’ he says happily. ‘Near the Masterpee Building.’ and ur chocking on that laddu made me lol!!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Glad you liked it AS. I see you here after a long time. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  22. yeah.., very true Name matters,We manufacture a variety of house lifts for bungalows, duplex villas, row residences, terrace apartments, pent residences and showrooms. They're effortless to function, fast, safe. Dimension may also be modified according to specifications. House raise manufacturers in Hyderabad, trust us to put in our lifts even in ancient buildings or low upward push residential residences. Our house lifts are quality appropriate on your villa or bungalow. Use the home elevate in the relief of your own home, after a tiring day at work. We are house mindful and wouldn't have a desktop room. You could have the option of either making use of a single segment or a 3-segment connection. We present you an assortment of auto shades, from chrome steel matt conclude to MS painted, from uncommon fashion designer colorations to dependent glass cabins. Match the interior decors of your http://jronelifts.com/home-elevator-lift-suppliers-in-hyderabad.html residence lift with the interior decors of your house. Make your residence carry an extension of your residence. An ageless proposal compatible and reliable for all ages chiefly for the aged and the feeble. Assuring you the fine provider we the dwelling Elevator manufacturers &Suppliers in Hyderabad are in your favourite metropolis at your very door step for more log on to : http://jronelifts.com/home-elevator-lift-suppliers-in-hyderabad.html

    ReplyDelete