Tale of the God Fish

What’s in a name? Plenty enough to bring a dose of hilarity to something as boring as a conference on marine resources in the middle of nowhere. And thereby hangs this tale:

I was at this international conference about oceanic stuff on one of the Pacific Ocean’s beautiful emerald paradises. One of the speakers was a Japanese fishery expert whose name was Masayoshi. Everyone addressed him as Masa. How appropriate his name would have been in Mumbai, I thought. For in the local Marathi lingo, ‘Masa’ means fish!

At tea between sessions, a photographer was going around getting people to stand together for group shots. Some of the delegates too were clicking away. One of them appeared to be of South Asian stock.

Waiting for a break in my conversation with the Japanese gent he approached me and glancing at my nametag asked if I was Indian. I nodded. “Well Dev has to be Indian. Where from?” From Mumbai, I said. “Me too. You understand Marathi?” I sure do, I said.

Then pointing to Masa’s tag, which he’d obviously noticed before, he let out a loud guffaw. “Dev-Masa” he said. “You know that means whale in Marathi, eh?” Of course, I said. Devmasa is indeed Marathi for whale. (‘Devmasa’ can loosely be translated as “God Fish”).

The session after the tea break was about whaling in the Pacific!