Damn you, Dallas!
My first name isn’t Richard, it’s Johan. That’s how we (used to) roll in my family. I come from a long line of Johans who were all known by their second names. This lovely tradition was of little consequence until the early 1980s, when the hit series Dallas first appeared on South African television. The nightmare began when my classmates discovered that I had the same initials as JR Ewing, the villainous oil baron played by Larry Hagman. Within weeks, even teachers were addressing me with a Texas drawl: “Where’s your maths homework, JR?”
“But why are you telling us all this, JR?” you may well ask.
And I would answer: “Because I needed an introduction to Part IV of my alphabetical tour of KLM destinations, in which I discuss the origins of city names starting with D, and I haven’t visited any of the cities on the list, although I have blogged about two of them (Dar es Salaam and Delhi), so I had to come up with something else, and Dallas immediately sprang to mind…”
Prompting you to cry: “Enough already! Just get on with it, JR!”
Dallas: The city of Dallas got its name from US Vice President G.M. Dallas, whose surname derives from the Scottish “of the dales and valleys” and, before that, from the Gaelic “the waterfall field” – which is just a short step away from “the oil field”.Dammam: There is some dispute about the name of Saudi Arabia’s third-largest city. Some claim the name derives from the sound of a warning drum “dammam-dammam-dammam”, while others suggest it’s a reference to a treacherous whirlpool – “dawwama” in Arabic – just off the coast. Maybe the drum was used to warn sailors about the whirlpool.
Dar es Salaam: The Tanzanian capital gets its name from the Arabic “bandar as-salām”, meaning “harbour of peace”. It’s intriguing that the original fishing village was called Mzizima, which means “healthy town” in Swahili.
Delhi: The Indian capital is thought to take its name from King Dhillu or Dilu of the Maurayan Dynasty, who built the city in 50 BC. In a previous blog, I explained why the city is also known as New Delhi.
Denpasar: The capital of Bali, Indonesia, gets its name from a phrase meaning “by the market”, which may be handy to know if you’re looking for a market elsewhere in Indonesia. Simply point and ask: “Denpasar?”
Doha: The capital of Qatar takes its name from the Arabic “ad-Dawha” meaning “the big tree”, a reference to a tree that stood at the centre of the old town. Did the village and city develop around the tree, I wonder?
Dubai: This nation–city is one of the United Arab Emirates and is thought to take its name from the Arabic word “daba”, which either means “locust” or “creep”, depending on who you ask. The latter is a reference to the slow flow of the Dubai Creek. Could the former be a reference to a plague of locusts?
Read the rest on KLM.com – including a poem consisting entirely of unusual place names starting with D.