I am back in Chennai for a fourth successive year spending a semester teaching at the Asian College of Journalism. Over the next couple of months, I'll be spending twenty contact hours a week with the same TV journalism class - so it's sort of important we get on. I met the class for the first time just now, and I think things will work out fine. They even laughed at a couple of my jokes - that's unprecedented!
Hanging out at all my old haunts in Alwarpet, I noticed that my excellent local supermarket has had a name change. Last time I was here it was called 'Wait Rose London Supermarket' - which struck me as a pretty clear-cut case of "passing off". The name seems to nudge at a connection with the up-market Waitrose chain of supermarkets in the UK, established back in 1904 by Mr Waite and Mr Rose (and, confusingly, Mr Taylor too).
Now my local mart in Chennai has been rebranded - it's the 'White Rose London Supermarket'. Though as you can see signs of its old avatar are not exactly hard to spot -
White Rose has five medium-sized supermarkets across Chennai, and as far as I can tell from its website all have been rechristened. Why? That's not at all clear - and an email to the company has so far gone unanswered. But I spotted a news report suggesting that Waitrose, the British chain, is expanding its operations in India which might have made it a touch more protective of its brand name. That's simply my speculation, you, understand - nothing more.
So that's all fine then.
But hang on. Look again at the White Rose signboard - and at the rose between the two words. That's not a white rose at all. It's red!
Don't they know that wars have been fought between rival champions of the white rose and the red -
It wasn't THE English Civil War - that came a couple of centuries later - but it was a civil war, The white rose was the symbol of the House of York while red represented Lancaster.
To this day, Yorkshire's symbol is the white rose while Lancashire is the red rose county.
These are not trifling issues. How can a signboard carry the White Rose name and the red rose symbol? In case any should wonder, yes I have a stake in this contest. Born and bred Yorkshire.
So the White Rose will continue to enjoy my custom. But please, get rid of that blob of red!
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