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Kantipur FM Commentary: What’s in a Name?

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Southwestern State College Ktm-feat image

Yup, that’s the name of a 11th and 12th grade (sixth form) college in Kathmandu! Of course, that the name sounds like an American College is more important than it making any kind of sense in the context of Nepal. You can be certain that it has no affiliation of any kind to any Southwestern State oar State school in the US; otherwise that would have appeared in bold letters instead of just its HSEB affiliation. HSEB is a local university board (local accreditation body).

In the summer of 1997, I returned to Nepal for a longish stay. One of the things I did then was host a radio show on the only FM station in the city: Kantipur FM. For more about that, have a read of the first reproduction of one of the commentaries.

Here’s another reproduction. This one a series of commentaries about names/labels and Kathmanduites’ obsession with them!

(1998 were the days when internet was nowhere near as ubiquitous, TV was just 10 years old, and  satellite TV even less. Pagers were the “in” thing. For mobile phones, they had those huge, cumbersome satellite phones, which only a small proportion of the population could afford and owned!)

 

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February 18: What’s in a Name? I

[opening jingle]

Awe right….

I’m back with another hour of Marlboro Music Network here on the one and only Kantipur FM. This is Dorje. And, after a long break, I have a question for you.

The question of the hour is: What’s in a name? What is there in a name? While you ponder over that question, here’s….

[Music]

So, what is in a name, really? The reason I ask is, returning to Kathmandu after nine years abroad, I have noticed a remarkable change in the names the people in Kathmandu choose for places, institutions, kids etc., and  in the way people in Kathmandu are preoccupied with name brands, and I have come to my own conclusions as to what names seem to mean to people in this city.

More about that later. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

The issue this hour is names and what’s in them.

Let’s start with names of educational institutions. They used to be known as Biddhya Mandhir, Biddhyashram, Biddhyapith, Biddhyalaya etc., such as Adarsha Biddhya Mandhir, Anandakuti Biddhyapith, Sarswati Prathamik Biddhyalaya etc.

And now? More about that later. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

Going back to names of schools, Biddhya Mandhir, Biddhyashram, Biddhyapith etc. have been crowded out by names such as Boarding School, English Boarding School, English Medium Boarding School, International School, International English School, Academy, Co-ed School, Residential School etc. etc….

More will follow so don’t go away. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

And the Adarshas, Anandakutis, Sarswatis have made way for Sesame Street, Stanford, North Point, West Point, Little Tots, Little Steps, Little Angels etc. So much for names of educational institutions.

But before moving on to other names, here’s….

[Music]

You know times run out this hour. I’ll continue with this tomorrow at seven, of course.

I will say this though:  names seem to mean a lot more now than it did before, before satellite television and the internet. Well, certain kinds of names anyway.

Like I said, for more of this join me tomorrow. This is Dorje signing off.

Stay tuned for I Love It/I Hate It with Bimal and need I say anything about his guest? No! And I leave you with…. Good night.

[Music]

Feb. 19: What’s in a Name? II

[Opening jingle]

Awe right….

This is Dorje back with another hour of Marlboro Music Network here on the one and only Kantipur FM. I’ve got some great music coming your way, so don’t go away.

Plus, I am carrying over yesterday’s question which is: What is in a name? We considered names of educational institutions yesterday, and this hour?

Stick around to find out. In the mean time, here’s ….

[Music]

Going back to names, not only have names of educational institutions evolved, I have noticed that names of people, places, and structures have evolved too. I must however add that the practice of naming people, places and structures different do not seem to be as widespread as with educational institutions.

More about that later. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

Going back to names, business and shopping centers have names such as Kathmandu Plaza, Lazimpat Plaza, Suraj Arcade, Mini Mart, Wall Mart etc. and I have even seen a street named Church Street!

What am I driving at? Stick around to find out. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

Going back to names and labels: And then there are the names of people such as Nelson, Angela, Daisy, Angelica to name a few. Whatever happened to good old Nepali names such as Sanjeev, Smita, Sunita, Maya? Something wrong with them?

More about that later. In the mean time, here’s ….

[Music]

Okay, so far I have considered names of educational institutions, business and shopping centers, and names of people. There’s another preoccupation, another preoccupation with names of a slightly different kind.

More about that later. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

The preoccupation I am talking about is with brand names, labels of designer clothes, labels such as Giorgio Armani, Levi’s and Strauss, Calvin Klein to name a few. No wonder there are so many imitation designer labels in town (such as Live’s and Strause, Gore Klein). To be sure there are many more. Anything wrong with them? No. But times run out.

Join me Sunday for more of this and music. Samrat will be back tomorrow and Saturday with your requests and dedications. Stay tuned for Coca-Cola Party Night with Steve. I leave you with…. Good night.

[Music]

Feb. 22: What’s in a name? III

[Opening jingle]

Awe right….

I’m back with yet another hour of Marlboro Music Network here on the one and only Kantipur FM. This is Dorje.

This hour’s questions is once again what’s in a name? What’s in for example Stanford International or West Point that’s not in Adarsha Biddhya Mandhiror Sarswati Prathamik Biddhyalaya?

More about that later. In the mean time here’s….

[Music]

Going back to names…. What’s in Daisy or Nelson that is not in Sunita or Sanjeev? And what kind of a name is Parliament or Cabinet or Hitler for kids?! And Sweetie?!

And what if the article of clothing you are wearing was designed by Giorgio Armani or the tailor down the street?

More about that later. In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

Ten years ago, before I left for abroad, this preoccupation with names and labels was not as pronounced as today. The conclusion I have come to is this: in Kathmandu, there’s everything in a name. A name is everything. Details will follow so don’t go away.

In the mean time, here’s….

[Music]

Name is image. In Kathmandu, for mostly the wealthy section of the society, image, it seems, is everything.  Image has become everything. An image that says I am ‘in’, I am hip, I am progressive, I am ‘westernized’ etc.

And names go a long way in projecting that image. Imported names and labels, names and labels of the Western variety, specially North-American variety, what you mostly see and get on satellite television! ….

[Music]

Okay, before I wrap up the spiel on names, I want to acknowledge the place I get my music from: Suwal Music Plus on Dharmapath, New Road. If you are looking for new CD’s and pre-recorded cassette tapes, Suwal Music Plus is the place for you. ….

[Music]

Going back to names…. To me, personally, it seems at the very least misguided that progress is so loosely associated with all that the West is and all that the West stands for on the small screen, and everyone else is so quick to imitate. ….

[Music]

And that brings me to the end of this hour. Join me tomorrow at seven. This is Dorje signing off.

Stay tuned for Panther Hotline with the trio—Bimal, Rajani and Dr. Bhadra. And I leave with…. Good night.

[Music]

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And this obsession with foreign names and labels, and treating everything — yes pretty much everything — western as being better and using them as status symbol has gotten worse over the years (see image at the top for example). I could do a whole new series of radio shows and blog posts just about that!

What do you think? Is West the best and East the beast? 🙂 

 

 

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