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Nothing Grande about it

We Bengaluru people aren’t fussy about how we name our streets. Throw us some letters of the alphabet and a couple of numerals, and we’ll quietly go away and think up something like “19th K Cross” or “23rd L Main.” But it’s a different matter when it comes to the names we give our apartment complexes. Nothing staid or boring there. No,saar, we go for grand.

After the Shanti Vilases, Prem Nivases, and Sri Niketans of long ago gave way to names inspired by the geography of the neighbourhood, we began to see a profusion of Hill Views, Lakesides, Park Vistas, and Temple Heights. And then builders realised that a residence didn’t actually have to look anything like its name suggested. Hence came the Manors and Regencies that weren’t stately in the least, and Chateaus and Chalets that didn’t appear the least bit European! And even if you called your building The Cascades, you didn’t have to guarantee a 24/7 water supply. The trick was to add a superfluous vowel to an adjective and toss a “Grande” or “Royale” into the name, and you could get away with not providing the most basic of necessities.

Some developers, of course, must have concluded that while it was all good to add a dash of foreign fancy to the name, one couldn’t be too careful about propitiating the gods: By all means, let’s go for the exotic, but can we risk neglecting vastu? No, no, sumne yaake? Which would explain the Sai Kensingtons and the Raghavendra Windsors. And don’t think we’re just stuck in our colonial past or merely fixated on the English royalty.

Our bizarre mishmash draws from Manhattan and Palo Alto equally and doesn’t spare Roman emperors either! Not surprisingly, the advertisements for these residences show chubby, Caucasian-looking babies in swimming pools, and athletic, Mediterranean types biking on wooded trails.

Sometimes the names seem to be inspired by just the need to be unique. What, for instance, could be the rationale behind Propulsive Paradise? Unless it was built for a colony of hedonistic physicists?

A recent, full-page advertisement in the newspaper alerted me to a new trend in naming residential communities. Entranced by photographs of elegant interiors and verdant landscapes, you look for the name and land on something like “Mid the Steep Sky’s Commotion” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Yes, builders of high-priced homes in Bengaluru now go for song phrases or sometimes entire lines of poetry. Think of the harried postman tasked with delivering a letter addressed to “4-B, Tower 1, Whose Woods These Are I Think I Know.” Can you blame him for asking, “Yen saar idhu…post-aa athva English homework-aa?”

(Published 09 November 2023, 23:10 IST)

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