Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Street maze

The municipal authorities in this town are driven by strange fads. Once upon a time, while naming streets in my neighbourhood, they took it into their heads to immortalize the pantheon of Russian and American astronauts. So we got a rash of streets with utterly alien names like Grissom and Chaffe and Merbold and Svetlana and Tereshkova (some of those people might have had a little difficulty in identifying themselves from the spellings!). Then someone said "Let's do something different now - let's name all the next lot of streets according to the classical Indian raagas." At once there came up signs saying Bilawal and Iman Kalyan and Malkosh and Jayjayanti and Meghmallar Path...

Of late, they have gone back to naming new roads after famous people from recent Indian history, freedom fighters and writers prominently among them. Somehow, though, someone in authority wasn't confident that the names by themselves would ring any bells with the public - we being notorious for our indifference to matters historical - so they have put tags before the names: Biplabi (revolutionary-) Rashbehari Basu Sarani (street) and Sahityik Leela Mazumdar Sarani. 

And they have been so prolific with the naming exercise that personnel from other government departments are having difficulty finding their way about. I don't know about postmen, but this morning I saw some policemen asking for directions... 


Shilpi said...

That second last liner in your first paragraph had me in splits while driving to the post office today. I wonder whether they clap their hands when they're at it.

While grinning away with this post of yours I was thinking how these different posts of yours remind me of things that I forget (...there was one of your comments on the nuclear tests at Pokhran and the befuddling code - "The Buddha has smiled"). Isn't there a Neil Armstrong and a Yuri Gagarin road? I remember Ed White Street. I don't remember an Aldrin Street though. I was reminded that last year sometime, the gentleman behind the counter at the post office had smiled at me and said, "A street in an Indian town named after the air-force base?!" - I won't go into my response, and the conversation.

Even as a child I rather liked looking at street names and saying them in my head, and I've wondered a fair bit, and in different contexts about street naming and what goes through the street namers' minds. I've seen and heard of Tinkler, Wiggins, Waddle, and Peddie street...I often think it's a very good thing that while living on one of the above-named streets I didn't post anything anywhere.

Are the first bits in brackets? The Biplabi and the Sahityik bits?

Swarnava Mitra said...

Dear Sir,
I think very soon we might find Leonardo Da Vinci road or Picasso Sarani in Durgapur. I wonder how do they select the names of these streets. We are aping Americans so much that someday there might be a New York Sarani or Trump Road here.And, its Sahityik Leela Majumdar 'Path', I live here.
Yours Faithfully,
Swarnava Mitra.