February 22, 2006

What's in a name after all?

I like Goan villages. They’re small, and everyone knows everyone else. And if you were to own a shop of any kind and were to put up a name-board displaying the name of your shop, in all likelihood no one will remember the name you’ve given your shop. Instead they’ll refer to the shop by your name until either of you survives the other. They’ll probably say in Konkani, the local language, “Anil-a-ger tuka meltele thay.” (“You will get it at Anil’s”). So why bother putting up a name-board that no one will bother remembering?

But then it is hard on visitors unless they’re from a nearby village, in which case they’ll probably know you as well, and remind you of how you got thrashed by your neighbour years ago for stealing mangoes from your’s neighbour’s tree. It’s only those who’re passing through the village who’ll find it difficult to locate your place. But then so long as they know that it is a bar what does it matter what you name it, or for that matter if you name it at all as was the case with a bar we came across past Amona on the way to Sanquelim. If not for the window displaying the word ‘BAR’ fashioned as window grills, a novelty in itself for saving on the cost of a board and achieving protection at the same time, we might’ve mistaken it for a house, for there was nothing about the place to indicate that it was a watering hole if not for those window grills. In fact they were the only alphabets visible for a fair distance around. Just made me wonder 'What’s in a name after all?'

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