If nations were living, breathing creatures, rivers would be the arteries that carry the oxygen-rich liquid of life to the remotest corners of the body. By meandering hither and thither, and snaking its way through steep canyons, the average rivulet slakes the thirst of the parched earth, irrigates vast deserts and creates cosy coastlines for civilisations to bloom, all while breaking rocks, busting boulders and flowing against all odds.
To the rather impressive résumé of rivers, add the not-so-measly achievement of changing the destiny of billions by lending their names to things you can’t even imagine.
Very many countries owe their venerable names to the ebb and flow of serpentine water bodies. There would be no India had it not been for the River Indus. Bosnia wouldn’t have made it to the maps, if not for Bosna. The Gambia owes its existence to a watery namesake in West Africa. Ditto with Uruguay, Paraguay, Nigeria, Moldova, Jordan and Zambia.
Even states like Missis-sippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Iowa and Ohio; cities like Moscow, Amsterd-am, Des Moines, and Minsk; towns like Cambridge, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Arundel, Ashbourne; and locales like Adyar and Kabini, owe their names to rivers.
If that were not enough, Indian Railways has Jhelum, Godavari, Brahmaputra, Vaigai, Gomti, Indrayani, Ganga-Kaveri, Tapti-Ganga, Ganga-Jamuna and Ganga-Sutlej Expresses chugging along the length and breadth of our country.
You might be surprised to know that many leading brands have profited by trademarking creeks and estuaries. Finnish telecom giant Nokia is a derivation of the Nokianvirta that connects the Lake Pyhajarvi to Lake Kulovesi. American computer software company Adobe got its label from the Adobe Creek that ran behind the houses of founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke. Commercial trucks major Isuzu Motors gets its moniker from River Isuzu in Mie Prefecture, Japan. The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon.com, is perhaps the best known advertisement for river-themed names.
Back in India, Nyle shampoo from Cavin Kare, the Ganga sabun from Godrej, and the Goa-based Zuari Agro Chemicals are tiny tributaries of the urge to tap the power of rivers. Wonder if the technique will ever wash with our hard-nosed customers.