'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Where To Break It??

Long back. When I first came to Chennai (Madras) for studies. There was a certain P.V.C Rao (Gult of course) in our hostel; folks used to call him simply 'PVC' - and even 'Vinyl' (short for, of course, 'Poly Vinyl Chloride'; and very appropriately, he was doing Chemical Engineering). One day, I asked someone what his full name was. The answer was "P.V.Chalapati Rao".

It struck me as somewhat weird. "The V in his name must be Venkata" I thought, since I already knew Venkata to be a very common middle name in AP. "The chap's name must be 'P. Venkatachalapati Rao' But 'Venkatachalapati' (a compound name) should be analytically broken as 'Venkata + Achalapati' and not 'Venkata + Chalapati'. He should have been P.V.A Rao, not P.V.C. Someone has really goofed up!"

The full name Venkatachalapati is formed from 'Venkatam' (the proper name of the holy hill at Tirupati), 'Achalam' (means mountain) and 'Pati' (means husband or lord). So the full name means 'the Lord of the (holy) mountain of Venkatam'. This is a rather straightforward compound name to break. And yes, replacing 'Achalam' with 'Chalam' would yield nonsense, even in Sanskrit. Moreover, at least in Malayalam, my language, 'Chalam' means 'pus'. So, 'Chalapati' would imply (horror!) 'Lord of... 'well, you know!

Sometime later, I came to know another gent who was called simply 'Chalam' - again short for 'Venkatachalam', his official name. One day, during a break, I made a remark to a Tamil friend: "I am somewhat uncomfortable with this 'Chalam', the name that is! I would prefer calling him 'Venky' or even 'Venkatachalam', all the way." And I gave the Mallu problem with the word 'chalam'. The response was as follows: "Hey, you are right! Even in Tam, 'chalam' means just that, and I have been calling him,... yuck! Real nasty, one could as well have called him Malam (shit)!"

A Kanndiga who was also party to this conversation had a different take. "Well, that is a matter of interpretation, really! He is comfortable being called 'Chalam'. And I am okay with calling him 'Chalam'. Then what is *your* problem?!"

Another similar goof is the Bangaloreans calling the suburb of Vishveshwarapuram as "V V Puram". Vishveshwara is Vishwa + Eeshwara so it should be V E Puram).

Remark: In general, Mallus have better Sanskrit awareness than other South Indians. Part of the reason is the Kerala schoool syllabus which stresses the study of Malayalam language and grammar (and both are heavily inherited from Sanskrit).


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