The original Torrington, recalled for his oppressiveness. It is worth changing the road named after him. Just change it better.
Colombo is renaming a lot of its roads. The original names do refer to somewhat douchey Brits. Torrington, for example, was recalled for cruelty in suppressing the natives. As SarongJohnnie tweets, ” I think renaming roads after great people is fine. But these guys are losing the plot with some of these names.” How are they losing the plot?
The new names are insanely long. No one uses them.
Take the old Dickman’s road. They renamed it to Dr. Lester James Peiris Mawatha (he lives down the street). He’s a local film-maker, cool, but everybody calls him LJP. For what seems to be bureaucratic reasons, they’ve put his full name and designation on the sign board. it’s not a road, it’s a business card. The result is that people still call it Dickman’s.
You know what else, that’s only the name for part of the road. It literally covers the distance that LJP himself would walk to the shops. If you go up Dr. L.. fuck, I can’t even write the whole thing, if you go up LJP it changes into Isipathana Mawatha. But it’s the same road.
As another example, Dudley Senanayake Mawatha becomes Horton Place which becomes Ananda Kumaraswamy Mawatha which becomes Green Path. All in a couple of kilometers. On the map it’s just a straight line.
They also renamed Havelock Road to Sri Sambuddathwa Jayanthi Mawatha, to commemorate the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment. Full support, but I still call it Havelock Road. Why? Not out of any sympathies for the colonial governor. I don’t need to share such complex meaning with a trishaw driver, over such a length of time. I just want to say a name and get there.
Other recent changes include making Marine Drive (named after the US Marines?) the Colombo Plan Road. The Colombo is completely redundant, seeing as you are already in Colombo and seeing that every road which leads to Colombo is called the Colombo Road. I guess I could live with Plan Road, but I still call it Marine Drive. Why? Because they renamed as a political gift. It has nothing to do with how people actually live or speak.
The parallel Duplication Road is actually named R.A. De Mel Mawatha. Do you know who calls it that? Nobody.
Perhaps more inexplicably, there are moves afoot to rename Bagatelle road to Srimath Wijayananda Dahanayake Mawatha. This is inexplicable because bagatelle is a french word meaning a thing of little importance. It’s literally a residential road, of little importance to anyone but the people that live there.
I’m OK with renaming the roads. To me, Dickman’s always referred to the male prostitutes that used to work that strip, but I get that they probably should be renamed for colonial reasons. Just rename them better, and as roads rather than political statements. Rename them for something more than the naming ceremony, rename them for daily use. Colombo’s roads do need to be rationalized. Nationalization just isn’t the same thing.