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 their serpentine water bodies. There would be no ‘India’ without the River Indus. ‘Bosnia’ wouldn’t have made it to the maps if not for Bosna. ‘The Gambia’ owes its existence to its watery namesake in West Africa. Ditto with Uruguay, Paraguay, Nigeria, Moldova, Jordan and Zambia.
Even states like Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Iowa and Ohio; cities like Moscow, Amsterdam, Des Moines, and Minsk; towns like Cambridge, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Arundel, Ashbourne; and locales like Adyar and Kabini, owe their names to rivers.
The Indian Railways has Jhelum, Godavari, Brahmaputra, Vaigai, Gomti, Indrayani, Ganga-Kaveri, Tapti-Ganga, Ganga-Jamuna and Ganga-Sutlej Expresses chugging along through our country.
Many leading brands have also profited from trademarking creeks and estuaries. Finnish telecom giant Nokia is a derivation from 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 its founders. World’s largest online retailer Amazon.com is perhaps the best known advertisement for river-themed names.
In India, Nyle shampoo, Ganga sabun from Godrej and Zuari Agro Chemicals are tiny tributaries of the urge to tap the power of rivers. Wonder if the technique will ever wash with our dear hardnosed customers.
– Anantha Narayan
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