February 22, 2009

Sidharth Monga on India in New Zealand 2008-09

Going from Colombo to Barbadoes in Christchurch

Sidharth Monga
 © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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"Go straight down Colombo, take a left from Madras and you will reach Barbadoes." To paraphrase a line usually spoken about India, it happens only in Christchurch. They are names of streets located close to each other. Other such specimens are Bengal Drive, Lucknow Palace, Worcester Street, Gloucester Street, Antigua Street and Durham Street. It helps that the “street” is dropped from the names in casual conversation. The origin of the names indeed lies in the names of famous places around the world. The spelling of Barbadoes is the same in the original plan of Christchurch drawn up by Edward Jollie.

There is a certain lack of imagination in the street names. And the city itself, named by John Robert Godley, the founder of Canterbury. Why Christchurch? Well, Godley studied at Christ Church, Oxford. The Avon river that flows through the city gets its name from the more famous one in Scotland.

All the names come from the Commonwealth. There is no exhaustive explanation for each name – one can try visiting the libraries sometime during the tour, but people suggest the names came from people who had been to other parts of the Commonwealth. For example, a very hypothetical one albeit, if some Viceroy or a person with some such fancy designation had lived in, and liked, Madras and had come back to find an unnamed street, he could have named it Madras.

Inside those streets, though, coffee shops, restaurants and pubs with the most creative and cryptic names for can be found. Spotted in the city centre: Six Chairs Missing, Last Train to India, Left Click, Bicycle Thief, Two Fat Indians, The Ruptured Duck …

There is an interesting story on how the name Ruptured Duck came about. Legend has it that a fisherman from the Sumner area was on his way to repaint his boat when he ran over a duck. He renamed his boat "The Ruptured Duck" while he painted it. Many years later, when another man came across a wrecked fishing boat named The Ruptured Duck, he had found a name for the restaurant he had bought by the name of Cornerstone.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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