We are all frogs in our own shallow wells with little or no interest in what the other toads are up to. We show a semblance of interest in the rest of the world, only if it fills our time or adds to our utility in any way. I am no exception. My universe begins at home and ends at office. Any place outside this radius is another galaxy.
So, when somebody asked me the other day, about the origins of the name Secunderabad, I froze. A little demon in my head whispered: make something up and sound knowledgeable. With all the seriousness I could muster, I told my audience very authoritatively that since Secunderabad happens to be the twin city, they coined the term ‘Second-rabad’ and over time it became Secunderabad. My friends nodded wisely and left me in peace. Ashamed at myself, I decided to atone for this lapse by learning about as many cities as I could. I started with India, and swore to figure out the etymology of all the places I’ve never been to. I call this mental journey, ‘Inner City Express’. Hop on and grab a window seat to catch a glimpse of what I’ve picked up so far.
Agartala is not an iffy lock. It’s a made-up name from Agar (a perfume tree) and tala (a store house). Apparently, the capital city of Tripura was once upon a time teeming with these trees. Buxar has no connection with boxers. It’s a derivation from bagh-sar or tiger tank. The story goes that Rishi Vedshira, who had been cursed with a tiger’s face by the sage Durvasa, got back his handsome looks when he took a dip in the tank.
Aizawl literally means a field of wild cardamoms. Warangal is from orugallu or ‘the city built from one stone’. Cuttack is the anglicised version of the Sanskrit katak (fort). Gulbarga is Persian for ‘flower garden’. Ludhiana was originally called ‘Lodi-Ana’ (the Lodi’s Palace) — after the dynasty that established the city. Nainital got its name from the Naina Devi temple near the tal (lake). Likewise, Mangalore is named after the local deity Mangaladevi. I’ve got so many more stories. Will share them the day you find out about Secunderabad!