Saturday, October 22, 2005

Our names and living with them

There is a story about a young brahmachari in an ashram who found his name very disgusting and asked his guru to change it. His guru told him to take a tour of the world and even after that if he wanted to change his name, the guru would change it for him (a la notary)......

Our hero starts off on the journey and comes across many incidents (which i don't remember) and finally comes to a conclusion that a name is only an identifier and not a prototype (software gurus, please forgive me if there is some error here). For example, he comes across a peron whose name means wealthy but is poor, a person whose name means life, but at the time when the young man saw him was being transported for his funeral rites.

The above story showcases a situation in ancient India where the individual was at war with himself, but learns from society. Fast forward to the year 2004-2005 in the capital of India, New Delhi..The settings are all in and around IIT Delhi. These situations showcase how society is very curious to know why one's name is thus and whether any interpretation about the person can be made.......

1) Room #ND16, Shivalik Hostel: This was when my firt year roomie Vasan Churchill was moving into the room. By my own curfews, I generally do not bother about the origin of someone's name unless I can make some nickname out of it, or if something from literature strikes me or if the name is unusually rare. In this case, the name happened to fall in the third category. Added to this he was also carrying pictures of Lord Balaji and was also carrying a Bhagawadgeetha. The conversation went like this: (before anyone gets dobts about the religiosity of the following conversation, i would request you to come with an open mind and just follow the way in which confusion is cleared)..Also, the original dialogue was in Tamil and Hindi. I provide a translated version for ppl to understand...
DK: "Vasan, its nice to see secularism being practised"
Vasan: "Aah....Deepak, I am not a Christian"..
DK: "Then how do you explain the name Churchill..."
Vasan: "My father is a fan of Sir Winston Churchill..Thats how I got the name tagged on..Its not my surname..its a part of my first name..if you go by the rule book of nomenclature, I should be called Vasan Churchill"...
By this time a few more guys had gathered.....
Prashanth: "Lets call him Anna. In any case, everything from Tamil Nadu has some Anna association"....Thats how the tag Anna stuck.
Everyone called him so except for 'the character of a lifetime' Ankur Gupta who guffawed loudly in his Gorakhpuri accent, "Winshton Churchill chutia..ha ha ha ha ha ha (like a villain)"......

2) IIT Hospital: This was when I had gone to be certified that I would be able to swim. Once the medical check up was done, the doc asked me my middle name. Upon hearing the word Sriram, he started filling out Shriram. The following conversation ensued:
DK: "Sir, its SRIRAM not SHRIRAM"
Doc: (puts his pen down) "Where are you from?"
DK: "Bangalore"
Doc: "I don't know what ails you South Indians. You guys do not follow the Sanksrit pronounciation. If its Shriram, why do u write it as Sriram? Beats me"
DK: (wanting to tell him to mind his own business and also to tell him that his so called North Indian Sanskrit itself says that Lord ram is Sriram and Shri refers to goddess Lakshmi..but remembers his med certificate with the doc) "Sir, it should have been as you said. But when my dad was being enrolled at school the clerk made a wrong entry."
Doc: "Oh....so its only a spelling mistake...ok then" (signs with a flourish relishing the thought of a north indian victory over a south indian)
DK: "Thanks a lot sir."

3) PNB Branch, somewhere near Yusuf Sarai: My ex-roomie Vasan had gone to open an account. This amzing conversation took place there
Vasan: "Sir, I would like to open an account"
Official: "Whats your name?"
vasan: "Sir, Vasan Churchill S C......"
Official: (putting his pen down and calling out to all other bank staff) "Listen everyone, come here. Just look at this guy's name. He says its Vasan Churchill. vasan, I can understand is a Madrasi name. there is some madrasi guy in our HQ right? But Churchill?? Dude, you appear like a fraud to me..Please go get your passport"........
vasan: (psyched and irritated): "OK sir"........

Whew........the old sayng went 'Whats in a name?"..But with such nosey parkers around, a name is everything........

6 comments:

Karthik Subramani said...

hey deeks,

that really sucks . i ve never had any name problem but did have other compatibility issues wherever i ve gone , except chennai :) ... so i can understand very well how irritating such comments can be

Anthrax said...

Yo,
Good one da. But with name all of us have problems. Particularly if Bengalis, Biharis and Orissa guys pronounce it. The verbal massacre is just too much to bear.

Nyscha said...

i think lecturers rule in mispronouncing students names!!!a simple name like mine(nisha) was turned into neeesha!!!saranya became saaaranya.worst is for my friend called segar thatchayiny.her dad's name is segar(a variation of sekar) and her name is pronounced as dakshayiny,so u can imagine the confusion.the roll call comes to a screeching halt when her name appears!!!

praveen chavan said...

Hey DK..
Vasan Churchill reminds me of
Motilal Lenin :) ( hope u remember that guy )

Rajesh said...

dk!! cool blogs!! RAjesh

Srivishnu Mohan said...

I do like this topic very much for the way it has illustrated many similar situations I too have come across in my life all of them concerned with this so called Shri or Sri conflict. The origin of such a confict stems from my name itself Vemuru Venkata Srivishnu Mohan. I have lost count of the number of situations where in I had hard time convincing the guys of the fact that my name is srivishnu and not Shri Vishnu. Well I did'nt find the exact words to put my agony into a blogpage as effectively as you have done it yourself.
Cool way of putting it down (I respect your daring very much ;-) living in the capital of India and making comment on the North Indian spirit itself, way to go DK).