Archive for October 14, 2017

A Note on the recently attended International Conference on Cosmology called the “Post-Planck Cosmology: Enigma, Challenges and Visions” conducted at my institute IUCAA, Pune, India

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2017 by telescoper

Here’s a very nice review of last week’s conference by a student working at IUCAA…

Going Doolally

Posted in Biographical, History with tags , , on October 14, 2017 by telescoper

Yesterday evening, after my seminar and discussions I went with members of the cosmology group at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research to a place called the Doolally Tap Room which is not far from TIFR. Thundery clouds had gathered and rain was in the air so we took a taxi there and back.

It’s a nice, modern-looking bar with a range of craft beers and food. The Belgian Witbier and Abbey Tripel went down well, but I wasn’t tempted to try Mango Cider. It was a very pleasant evening, but I was dog tired after it and crashed out as soon as I got back to the TIFR guesthouse.

The name Doolally Tap Room is a very clever name for a bar. The word Doolally (or sometimes Dolally), as it is used in English especially in `going Doolally’ etc, generally means `deranged’ or `crazy’ (often as a result of being confined somewhere involuntarily, rather like cabin fever), is thought to derive from Deolali a place in Maharashtra (the state which contains both Mumbai and Pune). Deolali was used as a transit camp for British Army soldiers waiting to be deployed, many of whom became extremely bored stuck there in the heat.

Interestingly though the original phrase describing the madness induced by such boredom was `Deolali Tap’ (the latter word from a Hindhi word meaning `fever’). Doolally Tap Room therefore works rather well as a play on words.

There are of course many words in contemporary English that have their origins in Indian languages: here are 50 of them, which may or may not surprise you: atoll, avatar, bandana, bangle, bazaar, Blighty, bungalow, cashmere, catamaran, char, cheroot, cheetah, chintz, chit, chokey, chutney, cot, cummerbund, curry, dinghy, doolally, dungarees, guru, gymkhana, hullabaloo, jodhpur, jungle, juggernaut, jute, khaki, kedgeree, loot, nirvana, pariah, pashmina, polo, pukka, pundit, purdah, pyjamas, sari, shampoo, shawl, swastika, teak, thug, toddy, typhoon, verandah, and yoga.

Reminded by the above old British Army connection with doolally I can’t resist mentioning the phrase `When I was in Poona…‘. One doesn’t hear it much these days but aficianados of older humorous novels and radio comedy will recognize it as a kind of catchphrase introducing a boring old ex-soldier. It appears thus in Eric Patridge’s Dictionary of Catch Phrases (2003):

The legacy of Pune’s past as a large British Army base is still apparent: a large area in the centre is still called `Camp’ and there is still a tendency among some to refer to non-vegetarian restaurants as `Military’ (though I’m told this is more the case in Southern India, where the traditional local food is entirely vegetarian). In Maharashtra the diet is very mixed, but I’ve eaten relatively little meat since I came here.

All of which rambling might suggest that I’ve gone Doolally, or indeed that I’m turning into an old bore, but I’m actually enjoying this trip very much indeed. It’s fascinating not only to see what has changed in India in the 23 years since I was last here, but also what has remained the same. Moreover, everyone I have met here has been so friendly and hospitable that it’s been an absolute pleasure all round.