What’s in a Name?
We have all, at sometime or another, wondered why a certain thing is called by a certain name. Sometimes our very own name has an unfamiliar and strange ring to it. Yet, it is our most favourite thing in the world. As a teacher, I was always advised to use the names of the children as often as possible. Not to mention, the recent Brouhaha over a certain name!
Wandering through the meandering roads of the hills of Darjeeling, I come across some unusual and quaint names.
Siliguri or Shiliguri at the foothills of the Himalayas means the Place with a stack of stones. ‘Shil’ as you know means stone and ‘guri’ means place. It may have been a quaint place at some time, today it is a stack of mismanaged brick and mortar.
As you go up leave behind the silliness, you move up the Sukna Forest, which is lush and peaceful. I love the name Rongtong. I don’t know what it means but it has a bell like sound and quality which seems to shake you out of your stupor. ‘Don’t go to sleep,’ it says.
Moving up with the Darjeeling Toy Train tracks, sometimes running parallel, sometimes disappearing into the unknown, we come to Agony Point. It is a cleverly made loop for the train to continue its journey up and down the mountains. The name and the craftsmanship remind me of Irving Stone’s biographical novel – Agony and Ecstasy. Art and creativity can never leave you without reaction.
I love the names that have been given to the numerous waterfalls. In Nepali, a waterfall is Jhora. This particular Jhora is called Pagla Jhora. The waterfall is like an indisciplined child. It runs helter skelter and comes down any way that it wants. That which cannot be tamed is always considered a little crazy.
I don’t know what I like more about the flower ‘Bleeding Heart’ – the beauty of the flower or the name given to it. The drop of red from the white heart. Sometimes I wonder whether children are named after flowers or were the original flowers named after children. The Blue Pea Flower undergoes a personality change when it is called Aparajita (the one that cannot be defeated) and then it is fit for the Gods.
Some mythological and great personalities are always popular choices as names for children when they are born. Some are always shunned. You will never hear of another Manthra, Shakuni, Duryodhana, Hitler…….
The journey of my city’s name from Kali – kata to Calcutta and now Kolkata is a history lesson in itself. Dorje Lang or Darjeeling is truly the land of thunder. From tribal land to colonialism, names can tell you a lot.
Selim (not Salim, not Salem) Hill is named after the person who created the tea estate. Second Chance House has had many names before – Burra Bunglow, Director’s Bungalow and Selim Hill Resort. The name Dorje Teas and Second Chance House are intertwined as we strive to bring back Darjeeling Tea to its former glory.
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