Dec 231998
 

I remember a story that I read a long time ago, how a suburban housewife ends up becoming a leader of gang after a cataclysmic nuclear war. The transformation is complete; she becomes a ruthless fighter in the post-apocalyptic land. Suddenly, one day she listens to some music from the era before, and all the hopes, dreams come back flooding to her, she cries and cries…

I digress. Of course, cataclysmic events like the nuclear disasters are rare in our lives. We go through lives like frogs in hot water, getting used to one thing at a time. Of course, we grow. We learn. Still, if one were to be transported back and take a look at out our present selves, what would the feelings be?

I am comfortable with my information sources: TV, NY Times, and Yahoo. I am comfortable with technically sound entertainment these channels offer me. If I objectively think, I know that I am more intellectually stimulated with these sources than what I was used to before.

Surprisingly, I often discover, there is one thing I cannot discount. I am no music lover, I rarely listen to songs, yet somehow, some neurons in my brain respond to those age old Telugu words so instinctively, oh so wistfully that I would cry if I could. I know that it is mere a blackmail, I know that the words are as sincere as snow in Guntur, but I can’t reconcile, I can’t stop this feeling.

It is not just love, youth, compassion; the concepts are abstract in English. But in Telugu all these have a smell, a color, a face, a word. When I hear that word "pogaDa poolu" (పొగడ పూలు), I remember my walks in Nagarjuna Sagar wondering how I would look back on those days. The words "mudda banti" remind me of the Sankranti when we put those flowers in "gobbillu" (గొబ్బిళ్లు). When I hear the "saraagam" (సరాగం), I remember a long forgotten face from memory that responded so much to that word.

Then the words! All these words come back to me flooding through those songs. All these words crowd me with curious combinations, pregnant with new meanings out of each union. Even if I am listening to the words "malle teega" (మల్లెతీగ) or "vira jaaji" (విరజాజి) or "sOga kallu" (సోగకళ్లు) or any of those 287 words that make up 90% words in telugu songs, I still get goose bumps.

May be I am a prisoner of my vivid imagination, but I could smell vira jaajulu in jet black hair, I could see eye lids heavy with shyness, I could feel hesitating touch, I could picture myself imagining these things ages ago, walking on next to Krishna River in Nagarjuna Sagar listening to the same old songs.

Then one day, I withstand no longer, and go and rent the movies. I eagerly come home and watch them. The words that weave such dream magic, the phrases that paint the gossamer veils on faces, all those are brought to life on the small screen with a rude shock of reality. What was hinted, what was left unsaid, what was best imagined is laid out bare on that screen. The myriad hues of rainbow are coerced into a limited palette. The words become string of sounds. They tell prosaic, oft-told tales.

Suddenly, I am cured of my brief relapse. I no longer am immune to these songs! At least until I forget my movie experiences!

Ramarao Kanneganti
Dec 23, 1998

 Posted by at 12:11 pm
May 081998
 

Once they were mighty. They could break the rocks into tiny pebbles with their bare hands. They stood tall, with irons legs and fiery breath. If they stood on their toes, they could almost touch the heavens.

Everyone of them is superhuman. They may have had flaws, but only those that accentuated the strengths.

Or, so I believed.

It was a long time back, when I was growing up in Sowpadu. I looked around and found only giants. I looked up to them and admired them.

There was Rustum, who could lift the heaviest rock outside the village. There was another giant, who silently moved in the village, who must have carried tanks full of water everyday to all the people in the village. There was this courageous woman, who cuts grass as fast as any man, and holds her own in the fields.

I remember all these people and many more, as vividly as I remember my own face.

As I grew up, as I moved out of Sowpadu ….

Now, I go back in search of them. I find broken images. I find the shells of former giants. I find them old, not the graceful old of a queen mother. But, tooth-less old. Arthritis old. Weak and old.

Once they were warriors. Once they were my people. I laughed with them, cried with them, and grew up with them. Now, on a one day trip, I talk to them. I listen to them. I even laugh with them.

Still, I am a stranger. I do not know these decrepit people. My feelings are too clinical.

The mighty rustum that lifted the rock outside our village is now operating a money-lending business. He no longer breathes fire.

That has-been beautiful girl is a mother of two, with weather beaten face with no aspirations.

The invincible woman that I admired is struggling for a loan to farm in the next season. She does not reach for heavens.

How did life escape this place? Why does the existence become a day-to-day drab affair?

I sleep on the way back. I dream that I am young again. Amidst the giants, I feel safer.

I come back. I may still be dreaming.

After such knowledge what forgiveness?

Ramarao Kanneganti
May 8, 1998.

 Posted by at 1:08 pm
Apr 111998
 

… each factory and town look the same to me …

Finally. I am homeward bound. After all these years, I am going home. Of course, I have been seeing my parents, brother, and cousins frequently. Still, I have not seen home for a long time. It is as if I almost forgot what home is like.

The additional emotional baggage that goes with a trip long awaited bothers me. I wish I could behave that I go to India every other week. I am not sure why, but I feel that I am going to a strange land. It is the same sadness I feel when I visit my alma mater. It is as though I became irrelevant. It is like somebody saying, "The world can get along fine without you, Thank you". At least there is some comfort in such a rebuke. Imagine how it would feel if the burden of guilt of leaving were to fall on one’s shoulders.

May be I should be emotionally reminiscing, of the hills, farms, people, and places. But I am not. When I think of the place I was raised, I feel the impotence at history unfolding. I cannot control the destiny of the people. Not that I want to, but I would like to see flowers bloom where cicadas sing. I don’t have that golden key. I have not drunk from the fountain of knowledge. Yet, I feel I should have, at least, participated in the history. To understand me, try imagining yourself as a guest at your own wedding!

I too suffer from exaggerated, inflated importance of the self, as much as the next person. That is not half the problem. In this instance it seems to be the same melancholy of seeing your ex-girl friend sharing the intimacies with somebody else.

When I was young, I would look though the windows of bus when traveling and imagine every place to be mine. I would say to myself "I will remember this particular bend in the road, from years hence", with all good intentions. I look at a face and think "I cannot forget this face as long as I live". I could not bear to think that the bend in the road would disappear from my memory, or even from that road. I wanted to know every place and every face.

It is down-right silly, of course. I am not into solipsism. I know that other people exist, live, love, die without regard to me. Still, they are my people. I would like to be a part of their lives. I do not know how.

What are my feelings now? It is not the rage of early youth, when I had all the answers and was eager to educate my own world. It is the weariness of eyes that have seen the limitations of a mind. Rambling, and meandering through phrases, trying to find a coherent line of thought, I remember the difficulties of expressing oneself. It is like trying to calculate square root of pi in Raman numerals. Or, "padma patramivaambha saa".

Ramarao Kanneganti 
Apr 11, 98.

 Posted by at 1:07 pm
Feb 051998
 

A semi-serious look at the life of NRAs from the 1990s. In those days Madhuri Dixit was considered the Madhubala on Indian movies. Silk Smitha was the dancer with oomph. We used to take spices (Irony that would turn Columbus in his grave) home as gifts. Times have changed. These days they take ipods home, not cardamom pods. Madhuri Dixit is married and is living in Pasadena. Silk Smitha long gone and forgotten. In this background, the following narrative looks as anachronistic as NTR dancing in 1980’s movies.

NRA or Life styles of Rich, Famous and Low Body fat people

As usual I rush in where angels fear to tread. Yes, in a quest for an afternoon of culture and education, I went to a Telugu movie in Motown. Don’t laugh at me, I have unshakeable faith in Telugu movies, and of course, in my own patience. The movie, paradesi, a genuine "naive bad" movie, is made for us Telugu expatriates, who I am sure live in million dollar homes in California, with in driving distance of grand canyon, New York City and Piers of Chicago. Yep, that includes you, buddy!

I suppose it would be a waste to convince the folks back home that most of us live a life of month-to-month paying mortgages or rents, fantasizing about that new car, or the next vacation. Thanks to movies like these, they know better — we are all cash-rich, time-rich people in wonderland!

To all those Telugus, I present the following letter that I wrote a while back.


    We American Telugus may be different from you Indian Telugus. Most of us left the Andhra shores to come here. We silently took leave from that girl next door peeping from behind the curtain. We took courage to confess to that pretty acquaintance from the bus stand that we were leaving. We bid our farewells with tears in our eyes to our mothers. We hugged our fathers and left without turning back.

    We all came here; some long time back and some recently. We all were alone in the beginning. We missed our mothers cooking. We missed the idle chats on the road side. We missed the hot muggy days when every body gathers at the corner shop, ordering tea with vaDa. We missed that girl, whom we saw only once, who may have smiled at us, who may even have talked to us in that angelic voice, if only we had the courage to talk to from across the bus.

    We all grew out of it; some immediately, some after a long time. We all made new friends; we all clung to each other — Telugu, Bangla, Gujarati. We watched countless Hindi movies. We even learnt to cook and throw pot luck parties. We confess that we even smiled at girls across the dance floor soulfully. At times, we got them to teach us dancing, and take us to movies, and even care for us when we fell sick.

    We all took trips to India; some annually, some less frequently. We all tracked the "sale" events at Wal-Mart. We went to Indian Grocery Stores, and ordered the Indian Pack (cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves) or the luxury pack (almonds, saffron extra). We even took the plunge and picked out some sarees with the help our friends, whom we got to know much more intimately.

    We all got married; some here, some back home. We grew quite intimate with some members of the opposite sex. We held hands, laughed watching the late night shows. We reconciled to the other person’s foibles, finding them cute. We convinced our parents and went back and married. Some of us got married here with the blessings of the local priests, in the company of friends and colleagues. The rest of us, went back home, searching for the love of a good woman. Some of us found it in the old acquaintances from across the bus-stands. Some of us took a gamble and married the one looking closest to Madhuri Dixit.

    We now live in dual worlds; one ever-changing, the other static. As adults we work and raise a family and live in a world inhabited with Monday night football, Eliot’s poetry, New York Times, and rock music. Occasionally, we slip into our early youth and reminisce about a world we left behind, filled with Ghantasala songs, Vishwanatha’s novels, Krishna Sasty’s poetry, Sitara magazine, Chiranjeevi movies, and Silk-smitha’s moves. For us, it is frozen in time, kept alive by going to the local temples, attending the annual Telugu Conferences, and hob-nobbing with the visiting stars.

    What about money? Some earn a lot, some barely make even. Contrary to what people back home think, not all of us are rich. We live from one mortgage payment to next. We struggle to send kids to good colleges. It is true that our India trips give an impression of unimaginable opulence, at the expense of a year of savings. Of course, there are some of us living opulently (check them out in the movie paradesi).

    At times, late night before falling asleep we remember the land that was ours. We recall the smell of the earth, green grass, the wet monsoons, sisters in half sarees we left behind, the pretty girls that we never talked to. We hear the words speaking to us from across the oceans.

    Yes, we are American Telugus.


Written on Feb 5, 1998

 Posted by at 12:42 pm
Dec 101997
 

I think it was Bairagi who said "నాక్కొంచం నమ్మకమివ్వు". All we Telugus need is a little bit of belief, or suspension thereof, especially when watching movies. Fortunately, we all oblige. We have been blessed with the infinite patience, and resilience born from waiting in the bus-stands in Telugu land.

A case in point is a recent movie I saw: pelli sandadi. Once I started believing in the Telugu magical movie land, the movie made perfect sense to me. I even enjoyed myself thoroughly, with all those song and dance sequences.

I know what you are thinking. How does this seemingly sane person, normally espousing rational views make such statements? What Kantian categorical imperative made him say that :-)?

What can I say, I am cursed — the curse that makes me sit through mind-numbing garbage (punctuated with soothing commercials) only because something in there reminds me of a smell, a smile, a face, a place, a story that is long buried in the cranium. Aren’t we all the slaves of our memories?

It is the curse that binds us to the language, the poetry, the people, and home. It shows us poetry even in the mundane words of the language. It triggers associations from the odd jumble of words. Heck, it even finds poetry in dubbed songs for us.

Of course, this poetry is defined by home, and in general, a nation (nation in a Hegelian sense). To me, it defines the essence of sensibility. For example, Urdu poetry has some sensibility, laden with richly perfumed, thinly veiled phrases. I never could get the sensibility in English poetry; to me it has the weariness of an Eliot, word magic of an Ogden Nash. It is purely cerebral.

Now, come to Telugu poetry. Having grown up there, we can perfectly understand and feel the words "chemma checka" and "hoosh kaaki". We can see the green country side with undulating pasture fields, punctuated with coconut groves, where nubile girls roam dreaming a little, befitting Telugu sensibility. And, it is poetry to us — all the cacophony at the weddings, all that confusion, all those colorful sarees, all those gentle pranks.

May be we are all still crazy after all these years. There never was that dream land. May be it was all dry fields by the side of dusty roads. May be it was full of petty people fighting over forgotten notions, and anachronistic ideas.

Still, the dream is more powerful than reality. How else can we explain the gentle tug at the heart, on listening to a Telugu song? How else can we explain why we put up with dull, boring, sentimental, repetitive, and insulting movies?

Of course, we are dreamers. We catch a wisp of our dreams, a whisper of the poetry, a glimpse of lost youth — all in routine movies. All this becomes possible because of belief, a little bit of belief.

And, this movie, pelli sandaDi, does give me that.

Ramarao Kanneganti
Dec 10, 1997

 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Oct 301997
 

All this talk about the social conferences makes me nostalgic about the annual "tirunaaLLu" [Etymology left as an excersize] back home in Sowpadu. The meet happens over Hanuman Jayanti, inevitably near the temple, with three-day long puja activities — on the whole a bit less religious than your average TANA meeting.

Let me in you on a secret — Sowpadu is not actually the center of the universe, as I always portrayed it to be. But it comes close to that during those three days. Oh yes, we do envy that post office in Pallapadu. We may even envy that high school in Katrapadu. But come these tiruNaLLu, we stand tall amidst all those lesser villages.

The actual preparations start months in advance, almost on a lark. Every year, people feel that they cannot possibly top the previous years festivities. They talk about the giants of yester years. They soulfully discuss the 40 feet prabha [vertical Float] that was paraded last year. They adjourn the meeting and go home.

Then, couple of kids try to stir things up. They go door to door and start collecting money for the Prabha. Before you know it, it would have snow-balled into a big event. All the elders would want to give advice, even if they have to pay money to give it. By the day of tiruNaaLLu, things would be ready, almost miraculously.

Of course, while religion is important, good old-fashioned low-brow fun is important too. Hanuman may be the God of celibacy, but the devotees certainly are not. Surely, there would be some dancers from Tenali. If there is enough money there would even be an NTR look-alike.

The days of tiruNallu arrive, along with sweltering heat. Relatives descend from all around. The dance group from Tenali arrives. They are put up in a spare house, from the prying eyes so that they put on their make-up.

By the evening the Prabha would be ready. The Prabha itself will be spread over two bullock carts, one carrying the electric generator. The vertical structure, with all the garlands, and the pictures of all the Gods, has place for an occasional picture of Sridevi (not the one next to Vishnu, but the one next to NTR) as well.

The dance troupe follows the Prabha from a respectable distance. The closest to the classical dance they get to is "guDi lOna naaswami". Mostly, it is the "guDi venaka naa saami" type songs. There would be some friendly rivelry, of course. There would be other dance troupes from Guntur itself. There would be some other "noTi paaTa" troupes. Till the wee hours of morning they dance to the filmi tunes next to the temple, all in the praise of God, Country and the Flag :-).

The next day, the drama troupe for the "Sri Ramanjaneya Yuddham" arrives, sans Hanuman. They say that Hanuman-actor will come by the time of the drama. To save time, he would even come with his full make-up and driving his jeep. That sure must have been some sight, striking fear and devotion in equal parts.

Of course, the drama varies, some times it is "krishnanjanEya yuddham", some time it is "abhimanyanjanEya yuddham", some times it is even "hariSchandraanjaNeya yuddham". By the unwritten law, the drama must have a Hanuman, even in a guest role. And, the drama people always respected the shouts of "once more" even after they fall dead. It is awe-inspiring to see a dead man come alive to sing a song once more only to die again.

No talk of the meeting is complete without a drama by M.A. Basha. This fine specimen of a writer dealt with capitalism, communism, heroism, heroinism, uncleism, villianism, and comedianism! But that is not why they get chosen. Almost all of his works have a story that does not require more than one woman character to be present on the stage, which is a critical requirement for staging the drama.

Staging such a drama costs some money. The participants pay the money based on the amount of time they get to spend with the herione on the stage. That means the heroine may even have to play the gangster moll, to raise the revenue for the drama.

Eventually, the meeting ends, the troops withdraw, the relatives leave, the temple becomes silent. But legends get made each year, and stories live for a life time! Until next year!

All this, and much more. Now, top that, you TANA!

Ramarao Kanneganti
Sep 30, 1997

 Posted by at 12:49 pm
Oct 011997
 

This is what prosperity does. It bends us, it saps away our will, it makes a homogenous crowd out of us. For the jews, what thousands of years of diaspora, couldn’t do, prosperity of America did. For me, what education and years of schooling outside the state, didn’t do, prosperity of America did.

Look at me: there were times, when I was bound by Telugu traditions and refused to buy a book. I read most of my books, (borrowed from some untelugu people) while walking on the roads, hiding on the attic, all to avoid my parents catching me read a non-text-book.

Now, things have changed. I buy books. I buy books from Second Hand book stores like "Strand". I have a Dalton’s book club card. I order books from Amazon.com. Quelle Horreur! I even consider buying Videos.

Anycase, here are my picks for the ten video cassettes that I would like to own.

10) nartana Saala
This movie people might buy it for SVR. I buy it for the dancer (salalita raaga sudhaa rasa raagam). And, it makes the characters as next door telugu characters including Hidimbi, Krishna. For me it is a snaskritic story converted to Telugu.
9) padahaarElla vayasu
Sridevi was sixteen in this movie. May be that is reason enough to see this movie, if not for the nostalgia for the lost youth.
 
8) gopaala raavu gaarammayi
In the best of the traditions of comedy of errors from the acting of jaya sudha, raavi goopaala raavu, and mOhan baabu. It is one of the best comedies that didn’t depend on three-stooges style physical humor to generate laughter.
 
7) andaala raamuDu
What can I say? Anybody who loves the river Godavari must love this movie. Entirely a telugu movie, delightfully pictured with ANR etc.
 
6) aakali raajyam
For the Sri Sri songs alone this movie is worth buying. Throw in Kamal Hasan and add a bit of Sridevi, it becomes a irresistable.
 
5) devadas
Haven’t seen it. I have seen only parts of it in another movie. That alone convinced me that I should buy this movie.
 
4) konDa veeTi donga
Epitome of all superhero movies. It has the fights, songs, heroines, outrageous story line, and outdated heroics. Essentially all the things that Telugus like. And, it is quite enjoyable too! (This is one of the genre movies; you see one, you seen all.)
 
3) kshaNa kshaNam
The difining moment for me is when the kid places the coin on the rail road and runs off. With an extremely active imagination, and equally careful picturization, the director shows off himself as a professional, more than anybody in the Telugu field. "He is good, he is very good".
 
2) mutyaala muggu
If there is a movie that is telugu, I would say this movie is. I can remember the eyes, the river, the "muggu", the reddish sky, the kids, the dialogs. All of it coming together to make an entire movie into a Telugu movie, a Baapu picture.
 
1) missamma
I would like to remember this movie, frame by frame and word by word. It is a master piece where all the technical, artistic talents have come together. The acting was superb, and screenplay flawless, the dialogs almost to the point ("mana mahaalaxmini kanukkunna vaariki veyyi roopaayalu ivvachuuna attayya?" "veyyEm kharma, padihenu vandalivvachhu!").

Ramarao Kanneganti
Sep, 1997

 Posted by at 12:51 pm
Jul 211997
 

I confess; my tastes are pedestrian. Put me in front of the TV and I turn the channel to Seinfeld. Send me to the Video store, I come back with UTM(*) movies. Take me to TANA–I will stand in the corridors and gossip. I am the subbarao that goes out for Popcorn at the end of first act in Les Miserables. Of course, the closest to classical music that I would have listened to is from the movies.

With tastes like those, there is no wonder that I like YaddanapooDi sulOchanaa Rani. I make no apologies for it. In fact, I adore Y.S.Rani, the queen of exclamations, the mistress of emotional drama, the high priestess of sentimentalism.

The style is pleasant and fluid, not like maadireddi sulochana. The paragraphs in fact connect! The language is Telugu, unlike that of arikepooDi(kODoori) kausalya dEvi. People "mancham digi" speak, not "Sayya Diggi" elaborate. Of course, there are no Randian ramblings of Y.V. Nath (A bit unfair, I know. His style is not bad, if you remove the traces of the objectivism).

What more does a reader want? These books give a heroine, with whom one could fall in love over the first reading itself. It gives me the misunderstood hero, who reminds me so much of myself, save some small details like "impaala karu" ( I own a Chevrolet!!). Over all, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, when Hero and Heroine meet and wander off into the sunset.

It is not all stereo typical either. Does anybody remember the novel (Forgive me my memory, I can provide only the vaguest of sketches), where the Hero does not marry the rich niece of some couple that treats him as a son? That too, despite the obvious good looks, good manners, and the education of that girl! He ends up marrying a side heroine (satyavati, I think). My romantic soul was disappointed, but then I appreciate any such twists in the story.

Whatever happened to Meena? Jeevana tarangaalu? All that I wanted to know about being a Hero, I learnt from those books. In fact, since my Hero quotient is going down, I desperately need those books. So, if any one of you can get me vintage Y.S. Rani’s books, I will be willing to pay for the costs+postage(**). And, fellow Telugus, please speak up if you have enjoyed the writings of YSR!!


Ramarao Kanneganti
rama@savera.com
July 21, 1997

(*) UTM = Upper Torso Movement.
(**) Offer is serious.

 Posted by at 1:02 pm
Apr 081997
 

naa aksharaalu vennelalO aadukonE andmaina aaDapillalu.

Thus spake a poet, who often shunned labels and categorization. I myself have never seen his hand writing; I am not sure if it looked as beautiful as it read.

I don’t know if you all rememeber, but there was a time when our letters were written, instead of typed. We could read the letter, one character at a time, lingering over each one, with caressing look. The infinte variation in writing a "ta" as in "tala" never ceased to amaze me. You can draw a crude circle, or an oval. You can draw in the middle, at a side. Each one of them is different, telling a different life story.

Letters do look every bit like people. They can look askance, can prattle, sing, dance, and emote at all possible levels. If you prick, they may not bleed, but for all intents and purposes they communicate, as well as the semantics can.

Of course, letters come in all sizes and shapes. Some march proudly on with a bar handle mustache, while others sit demurely staring the ground. Some letters run like children out of the page. Some have character; they sit and observe you. At times, those proud letters believe that "akshraat smbhavatee@h viSwam".

Alas, I never developed such intimate relation with the latin alphabet. There are mere geometric forms to me, probably because I never had that many written English letters, while I had a love affair with Telugu handwriting at one time.

That is true; not that my penmanship was good, but I loved good handwriting, even at the expense on content. What can I say? For me, beauty was only skin deep. I was so much taken by the characters, I decided to improve my hand writing, at the late age of fourteen.

I know that these characters come from various families. It is very important to choose the right family to associate with, for the wrong family means going to down the endless complexities, and insipid _golusukaTTU_ discourses.

After a lot of thought, I chose Baapu’s family. At my school, already illustrious seniors like vaa.chi.vee made it fashionable which I tried to copy. I never could go past the simpletons that I was drawing.

The master’s work, of course, was inimitable, with its economy, grace, and expressiveness. I could see the farmers going to work in the mornings, young girls waking up to household chores, kids playing hooky from school, young boys learning to ride bicycles trying to impress the young girls, mothers drawing children closer protectively, fathers throwing up the children high into the air to catch them — I could see all that the letters were trying to tell me.

I could see the concrete poetry behind the letters.

Of course, over time, sadly, I grew out of it. After all these years, I forgot the art of letters. It looks downright silly to fawn over those letters now, yet somehow sad for having lost the sensitivity to them. Now, I communicate with the semantics exclusively, with no assistance from the letters. I no longer write. I type.

Wading through this dreary landscape of lifeless fonts, thankfully, recently, I received a manuscript written by Bapu. The story is immaterial for now. All that mattered was the concrete poetry is still there. After all these years, the letters still communicate to me.

Ramarao Kanneganti
Apr 8, 1997

 Posted by at 1:17 pm
Jul 251996
 

… What is in a name saar? annaaDu Appa Rao cheDDa baThaanee namilina vedaantilaa navvi. (అన్నాడు చెడ్డ బఠాణీ నమిలిన వేదాంతిలా నవ్వి)

Don’t you believe it one moment, there is every thing in the name. Why, even in neeti chadrika, the bad minister is always calleddurbuddhi, why do you think that? Naming is everything. That is why we even worship our gods with their 1000 plus names. Even Arthur C. Clarke talks of ten thousand names of Gods!!

In those days, before the invasion of these modern names, one could tell from the name where the person comes from and who his parents are. The name itself gives an identity. Appa Rao must be from Vizag, Subba Rao is probably from Kakinada and a Prasad from Krishna District.

And, think of those proud names–100% Telugu names. Like Subba Rao, Srinivasa Rao, Bapa Rao, Vara Prasad, Samrajyamma. Imagine that you are in a scandinavian country without seeing another Telugu face for years. And, all of a sudden you see a name like Venkata Narayana in the directory, wouldn’t feel happy and go and hug that person? Would you feel the same way if the person’s name is Sandeep, Anupam, or even Sanjay? No siree, you can never be sure with those names.

Think of names like Surya Satya Kanaka Vara Prasad. They role off the tongue musically! [much better than Lolita, in that respect]. Like a full-bodied wine, such a name can be twirled in the mouth and appreciated. There is a an earthliness in these names, there is a trust in these names, you can be certain about these names.

I am saddened to see people going after the new names, which are mostly discarded Bengali names. Some of these names have ridiculous meanings also, just try translating them into Telugu! A person might not hesitate calling the son as pavan kumarbut he would surely be offended by the mere suggestion of gaali koDuku. Where is the logic, I say??

If you want new names, go to your own back yard. In stead of say teja call your offspring merupu. Don’t call your daughter Hima bindu, call her manchu chinuku. Next time, when you think of names like Mrinaalini, Mrudula, please consider wholesome, bran-ful, healthy names like chaamanti, banti.

Do you want to go back to history with names like vaSishTa? Nema Problema. Think of Brahma Nayudu, think of Nannayya. If you want t o name your child Ashok, consider the alternatives — Nalagaama Raju, Malideva Raju, Pratapa Rudrudu. If you want names like Arundhati, you won’t be disappointed with the choices like Naagamma, Molla, Rudramma, Mallamma.

Therefore, friends, Telugus, countrymen!! Appa Rao, Venkayamma, Rama Rao, Prasad, Ramana, Subba Reddy, Kotamma, Srinivasa Sastry, Narasimha Murthy, Pandu Ranga Rao!! Up with Telugu names!!

I dedicate this article to my good friend, Poodipeddi Venkata Raghava Surya Narayana. May his son be named Poodipeddi Surya Satya Rama Chandra Vara Prasad and become the president of this country!! I just can imagine the NYT headlines!!

— rama
E-mail:rama@research.att.com

PS: Yeah, yeah. Pavan Kumar= Hanuman. I know that.

PPS: No offense intended. If your name is praised in this article, yes, I mean what I said about your name. If you feel that your name is tarnished by this article, well, it is not about you. It is about somebody with the same name!!

 Posted by at 1:04 pm