Feb, 2016

Until fairly recently I believed roundtana was a pan-Indian term. I’ve now learned it’s a South Indian original that never quite caught on in the rest of the country. I fail to understand why. What better word than roundtana to describe a traffic island? That wonderfully peculiar urban phenomenon that is a cross between a merry-go-round and an intersection. You must admit that as a word it has entertainment value. Roundtana. Notice how entirely nonsensical and made-up it sounds. How difficult it is to say it out loud just once. How it begs to be repeated — like a secret chant. Did I mention, that for no good reason, except that it makes it even more fun to say, the ‘d’ is silent? This is a word that undoubtedly deserves far more airtime than it currently receives. My husband, who only recently became aware of its existence, is now single-handedly trying to make up for lost time (almost always at the cost of making sense). “Hurry up you roundtana,” he tosses over his shoulder, as we are climbing a hill. And — “Look at that roundtana!” he will exclaim, pointing to the nearest vaguely circular object. His enthusiastic if inaccurate employment of the word is infectious. A drum-shaped water tank by the side of the road is now a roundtana. A towering tree with a massive trunk, a roundtana. A conversation that keeps circling back to the same subject — roundtana. This whirlabout, wonderful life and all that it traffics in… Roundtana, roundtana, roundtana.

Our very own Belmont roundtana, placed at the end of the street we lived on for eight years. Visitors coming to our studio for the first time were asked to look out for the landmark of a little lost tower that appeared to have wandered straight out of a fairytale.

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