Monday, April 17, 2006

What’s in a Word.

Yesterday late night, while having dinner, I happened to bump into the promo of a new movie coming soon titled "Pyare Mohan" on MTV.

There was a humorous dialogue, in which the protagonist (P), a deaf is enquired by another person (X) in a pure desi style.

X: "Aap Ko Sunaayee Nahi deeta kya"
P: "Nahi Nahi Mujhe Sunaayee Nahi deeta, maain Behera Hooin"

Bingo!!!!! on the word "Behera" as that happens to be my surname. For a while, the genesis of the above mentioned word lingered in my mind and bogged me about its link to my surname. Since it was late night, I thought I would call my maa the next day morning to clarify my doubt.

Words,plenty of words, it’s a vast ocean and the more you swim in the waters, the more you enjoy. We use names to introduce ourselves to others and to leave an impression. Our name is usually the first thing other people know about us. Many people ask, "Where do names come from ?" We know that they are often based on the literal meaning of words from many different languages.

Everybody has a name. Nearly everybody who has a name knows what it is. Our name is as familiar and as close to us as our own skin, indeed, we are more frequently aware of our name than we are of the unique living body that it identifies. We write it, speak it, and answer to it-often, immediately, surely, unreflectively. We generally take our name for granted. But, for these reasons, in a deeper sense we may not really know our name-what it means, why we have it, how it should be regarded and used. Paradoxically, by dint of being so familiar, the manifest mystery of our named identity may have become invisible to us. We name others, and ourselves but do we really know what they mean? I am not saying that all don’t know, but on a scale of 100, I feel around 75 are ignorant about the root, the origin and the history behind the name.

My interest in etymology started way back in the 1998,when I used to travel back to home during the semester breaks via Chennai. Chennai Central Railway Station is a place, I like, as it’s a living spectacle of life on the move. And more so it retains the old nostalgic charm, the walls and the entire building painted with the original brick-red color, which was how the buildings were built originally. I generally used to dump my luggage in the cloakroom and then take the bus around the city and it was in one of these travels, that I had picked up a book titled "Dictionary of Word Origins by John Alto" from an old second’s bookshop.

A picture they say is worth a thousand words, but at times, few words convey more than a thousand pictures. But it was with this one word, my love affair with words started and I have memorized the word and its root by heart: "serendipity: the faculty of making lucky discoveries. This word was coined by the British writer, Walpole. He took it from the "The Three Princess of Serendip", the title of a fairy tale whose leading characters, in Walpole’s words were always making discoveries by accidents. (Serendip was at a time used to refer to the island nation of Sri Lanka)".

I read blogs by Basab Pradhan who at one time was the Head of Global Sales & Marketing at Infosys Technologies.Of late he has co-founded Gridstone Research in August 2005 and serves as its CEO.Here is an interesting article he wrote on Spelling Bee. (Click Here) I had myself seen last year’s Spelling Bee contest (the US one) on TV, in which kids having their roots linked to India were raring through among all the contestants. The prime focus of the contest is more on the root and the origin of a word rather than on rote learning.(Check the article here.)

Today morning when I called my maa before coming to work, my first question was: "What’s the genesis of my surname "Behera" !!". For a moment she had her eyes and mouth open in surprise, I could sense that over the phone. The next moment she said,"What are you asking", then she laughed and changed the course of the talk.

Maa,I am waiting for your answer though. I am healthy and can hear properly and listen to music on full volume on weekends and often my neighbors complain me on that."Tau maain Behera kyon".

Keep reading and remain connected.


At 8:35 AM, Blogger Ferocious Killer Kat said...

nifty read tanay.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Ferocious Killer Kat said...

yo, I'm tagging u! check my blog for details!


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