Friday, December 05, 2008


I was riding by the new Airport Road (Bangalore, just before Hebbal flyover)- I saw an old couple trying to cross the road. I was deeply pained to see callous attitude of drivers who seem to whizz past by and not stop for the old couple. I was furious with the planning authorities for their abject lack of vision. Inarguably, India is the WORST place for pedestrians. They are the pariahs on the road - Least respected and cared. It only gets worse in Bangalore. I realized it even in my first week here (about 8 years ago). I was crossing the road by a turn and a car was approaching. I thought the driver would slow down and kept walking in my pace. In a moment I realized that the car driver had no idea to slowdown, and I had to literally jump off the path of the car to avoid getting injured. I thank God that I was physically fitter that time - I would have mutely submitted to the will of the driver and God now :-) 

As I was thinking of the plight of pedestrians in Bangalore and India in general, I realized that the word 'pedestrian' is a very interesting word. 

The word pedestrian means, 'of the foot' (ped / pes -> Latin for foot) - One who travels by foot. [One who travels by horse is equestrian where eques means horse]

This is the noun form of the word pedestrian. There is also an adjective form of the same word. Here 'pedestrian' means unimaginative or very ordinary. 

For e.g. 'The furniture on the display was pedestrian'

I was wondering if the adjective form of the word is also being applied the noun form, where status of pedestrians in India is pedestrian! [1] 

The root 'ped' is widely used - For e.g., we are called bipeds,  those who walk on two legs, assuming quadriped aliens are not  reading my blog. 

Centipede is an insect which works on 100 (centi) legs. I haven't counted, but 100 used to be a large number for ancients - So, an insect with lots of legs could be called a centipede. In India lots of ancient scriptures use the number thousand to indicate a huge number or something too large to count. For e.g., in Purusha Suktam, God is supposed to have 1000 eyes and 1000 feet [2] 

The root 'ped' also comes in millipede,  impede etc. Pedal is one that you press with your leg. Moped is one which uses a 'Motor' to assist you 'Pedal'

The word expedite means 'to prepare'  or 'to make things faster' - It is derived from to remove chain from the leg. Military 'expedition' means 'to cover areas faster by military'. 

So, next time when you see a 'ped' in an English word, you know how to take a good guess at the meaning :-)  

End Notes:
[1] I know it is an exceptionally bad use of the adjective form, but I am just trying to be imaginative

[2] Sahasra-aksha sahasra-pad [Sahasram -> Thousand, Aksha - Eyes, Pad -> Feet]


Gnana Kirukan said...

The only solution drogs is to make Captain Vjkanth the prime minister of India -- he can only bring "Change and Hope" :)..Barack Obama is the captain vjkanth of USA ;)

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

"Barack Obama is the captain vjkanth of USA ;)"

Intha vishayam Obama'vukku theriyuma? ;-)

I'll be glad if Vijaykanth becomes PM of India - I have a photo with him!