In his amusing letter, titled “Get them going with male names” (The Sunday Times, July 5, ), reader D. Gunesekera of Agalawatte suggests that trains be renamed with male-sounding-names (for example, change “Ruhunu Kumari” to “Ruhunu Kumaraya”), and that this name change might get our trains to run on time.
My feeling is that even with masculine gender names, our trains will still not run on time. In fact, the male trains might be even more unpunctual. Men, unlike women, are in the habit of stopping on the way home to talk to friends or have a drink at a pub or a tavern. In fact, a “male” train is not only likely to get late, it may not even reach its destination!
Why not name trains after animals instead? For millennia animals have been used as means of transport, and properly directed, unfailingly reach their destinations. We could name our trains Yal Bull (Namdhi), Ruhunu Buffalo, Kandy Elephant, and so on. There are sports clubs in America with animal-affiliated names, and they perform exceptionally well.
The hitch, however, is that whatever their names, our trains will continue to be late as long as those responsible for our transport and railway network continue to act like bureaucrats.
It is not the names of the trains that should be changed but the bureaucracy behind the trains that should be changed.
What’s in a name?