Starry, Starry Village

Last week, I was in interior Andhra Pradesh. We were felicitating high-performing Std. 10 students from government schools of villages in our project area.

All was routine, till they announced one of the winners as Keerthi Chawla. I wasn’t sure I had heard right. It was too North-Indian a name for a village in AP. So I asked again what the child’s name was, and she reiterated that it was Keerthi Chawla. And she was speaking Telugu. I asked her if she belonged to those parts or her family had moved there. She told me she was very much from Dosari village. And also told me her full name, which was Vangapudi Keerthi Chawla.

I couldn’t wait for the function to finish to catch hold of my colleagues to ask what this was about. They told me that the trend in Dosari village was to name children after film stars. That is not an unusual trend—we all know that many a Rajesh or Dilip or Aishwarya were named about the eponymous stars. What was unusual of course was the adoption of the name—lock, stock and surname!

We thought we should get a little more into it. A very quick count in the primary school and Bala Badi in the village threw up 81 children who were named after stars: from Trishas to Tamannas to Anushas (these ladies don’t use surnames, I think). From among those who do use surnames, we found apart from Keerthi Chawla, also a Vidya Balan. Among the boys there were Nageswar Raos, Ram Charans and Prabhas.

(I have met many a Jhansi, Jhansi Rani and Jhansi Lakshmi from AP/Telangana. Not sure why these names are so popular here.)

I thought mine was my Keerthi Chawla was the most exciting find. But I was deflated when my colleague told me that in her previous job, where they used to provide education support for children from Tamilnadu slums, they had one child called David Beckham (Muthu David Beckham).

With what dreams do parents name their children?

How we look up to the stars!

Do they know?


Living Magic!

How can you not be cured by a medicine called Living Magic! That is what ‘Zinda Tilismat’, translates to! With a name like that, can you wonder that it claims to cure everything from colds to upset stomachs to toothaches, to ‘new’ ailments like swine flu and bird flu? (But no, I haven’t heard of its use in Nipah, I have to admit!)

The ‘wonder drug’ was formulated by Hakim Mohammed Moizuddin Farooqui, way back in 1920, and has been manufactured in the Zinda Tilismath Karkhana in Hyderabad since then. This Unani medicine is basically made from aromatic herbals—mainly eucalyptus, and also some camphor, menthol, thymol, etc. Amazingly, you can apply it externally or ingest it.

The pack seems to have been unchanged for all these 100 years too. It carries a picture of a spear-toting African. The reason, it seems, is that the founder was so impressed by the Siddhi guards of the Nizam that he thought that such a picture on his medicine would give it an association with strength and well-being.


I have no idea if there have been clinical trials on this medicine to substantiate any or all the claims. But can you argue with a sale of 1 crore vials every year?

And the romance of the name! I am ready to be cured of anything with this. And, to its credit, the ingredients cannot do me harm!

As a Hyderabadi for some years, I obviously knew of this magic potion. But as we do with things which are local, I didn’t bother to buy it or try it. Now that I have left Hyderabad and someone reminded me of ZT, I became obsessed with it! So I made some friends buy and send me some. Now I am waiting for some (minor) illness to strike me, so that I may be magically cured.

So I suppose my message is, everything is in a name! An invaluable lesson to product managers (I began my life as one), innovators, company founders,