“Hey, they all start with T!”

“We’re bored, Dad.”
My daughter Gaia and her friend Jehanne, both twelve, are lounging on the couch, waiting for me to ferry them to their singing lesson.
“Wanna help me write my blog?” I ask.
“Cool!” they chorus. “What do we have to do?”
“What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear these names?”

Taipei | Gaia: “That’s an Indian dish! Very tasty!” | Jehanne: “No, it’s a kind of slow-motion kung-fu!” | Me: “The name of the Taiwanese capital derives from ‘Tai bei’, where ‘Tai’ is short for ‘Taiwan’ and ‘bei’ means ‘north’. Similarly, the name Beijing means ‘Northern Capital’.”

Teheran | Jehanne: “Isn’t that part of Agrabah?” | Gaia: “Yes, I think that’s where Aladdin finds the lamp and the magic carpet.” | Me: “The Iranian capital gets its name from the Persian words ‘Tah’ meaning ‘end/bottom’ and ‘Ran’ meaning ‘mountain’, a reference to its location at the foot of Alborz Mountains.”

Tel Aviv | Gaia: “That’s where Ruben went! And Kimber! It’s in Israel.” (Kimber is my eldest daughter. Ruben is her boyfriend.) Me: “The Israeli capital gets its name from the Hebrew words ‘tel’ meaning ‘a man-made mound accumulating layers of civilization built one over the other’, and ‘aviv’ meaning ‘spring’.”

Tokyo | Jehanne: “That’s a very busy place, with lots of cars and people.” | Gaia: “And they have those ‘Hello-Kitty girls’ who like to dress up!” | Me: “Originally know as Edo (estuary), the Japanese capital was renamed ‘tō’ (east) ‘kyō’ (capital) when it became imperial capital in 1868.”

Toronto | Gaia: “Sounds like some kind of car, but that’s where Mom always goes. In Canada?” | Me: “Originally, the term ‘Taronto’ referred to a channel of water through which Lake Simcoe discharges into Lake Couchiching. The Mohawk called this place ‘tkaronto’ meaning ‘where there are trees standing in the water’.”

Jehanne: “Hey, they all start with T!” | Me: “What, you only noticed now?” | Gaia: “Shut up, Dad!”

Toulouse | In chorus: “The Aristocats!” | Jehanne: “He’s the chubby, brown kitten who always gets left behind.” | Gaia: “Isn’t it the white one?” (A five-minute discussion ensues.) | Me: “Toulouse is a city in southwestern France. The meaning of its name is unknown, but it has remained unchanged for centuries.”

Trondheim | Gaia: “Sounds German to me, but probably isn’t.” | Jehanne: “Maybe a place where trolls live. And witches!” | Me: “Norway’s third-largest city lies on the banks of Trondheimsfjord. It was the capital of Norway until 1217, and was originally known as Kaupangen (market place) in Viking times.”

So, now you know how two little Dutch girls see some of the greatest cities in the world beginning with T. They’d love to know if you enjoyed their contribution. If the response is positive, I may ask them to assist me with my forthcoming alphabet blogs. But only if I manage to convince them that I can’t afford their ice-cream-per-word fee.