Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Christened in Fables

Found this interesting info in a Mumbai daily.....

Mumbai’s place names tell us a fascinating story of the city’s life and times. Byculla, for example, takes its name from a bhaya, or yellow laburnum tree, that once stood here, apparently in a khala, or threshing ground. Charni Road, equally pastorally, takes its name from charna, or a place where cattle grazed. And Chinchpokhli suggests a grove of chinch, or tamarind, trees—difficult to believe today. Pydhonie was a place where the tide washed inland and, receding, left behind a stream of water near a temple, where people washed their feet—hence pai dhoni. Matharpacady, bewildering as it may sound at first, can be deciphered as Mhatre pakhadi, or place where a community of Mhatres lived.

Some place names are obvious. Cooperage, for example, was just that: a shed where coopers plied their trade, making wooden casks for the East India Company. The original Church Gate, near St Thomas’s Church, was one of the three gates of Mumbai’s fort (the other two being the Bazaar Gate in the north and Lion’s Gate in the south). One of the tougher names to crack, however, is Breach Candy. The story is this: there was apparently a great breach in the rocks here, through which the sea historically flooded into the low-lying lands between Mahalaxmi and Worli. That breach was finally closed, circa 1780, by the building of a vellard, or khind—which was duly anglicised to ‘Candy’. There was also an English missionary, Mr Candy, whose bungalow was by the breach, and it’s possible that his name too somehow became intertwined with the place over the years. That’s the way it happens, sometimes.