Total Pageviews

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tomar Naam ki?

What s in a name said the bard?  And we now know that he was, at least on this occasion, far removed from the reality. Name!!! Of course it is important. Very important. Imagine being stuck with a nomenclature which does not ooze class or style from every alphabet. Or being called out loudly in an ‘up market’ gathering with a ‘down market’ brand name?? Haven’t you heard of that young man who cringed every time he was addressed by his very holy name “SaDayan” lovingly given to him by his pious parents as a mark of devotion to the family deity? Or the young lady who contemplated suicide because she was branded for life with a ‘oh so vernacular’ Akhilandeshwari? And of course you have heard of Aayush who though very happy with a modern sounding and suitably ethnic-chic name, was so annoyed at friends in school calling him ‘Aai’! (For the uninitiated, ‘Aai’ in Tamil is what you flush out every morning , Welcome!)

Innumerous are the cases where notices are filed on hourly basis with notaries across the country for a ‘Change of Name’.  If you don’t believe me, try browsing through the classified advertisement page of your newspaper. It is nothing but the case of taking matters in one’s own hands because you don’t want to be stuck to the misguided decisions of your parents who had no clue of what branding and brand equity is all about. There is an instance that I had read about where the young daughter fought with her parents and won the right to change her name to “Nayantara” after her favorite film star, much to the dismay of them who thought the entire exercise was one of needless blackmailing. Especially, when she had a perfectly divine and pure Tamil name in ‘Kuzhalvaimozhi’. I must confess though that I am yet to hear of a case of anyone converting to Christianity or Islam because they love Michel Jackson or Salman Khan.

My tryst with name/names took a turn to the serious once I reached Kolkata during the Bharat Darshan as we kids in the family used to call my father’s frequent transfers. (It was called Calcutta those days but we will let it pass! And Since many dialogues in this paragraph are in Bengali , the translations are in the bracket, “We never disappoint our readers” being my motto). On day one, the gentle landlady caught me with a “Tomar naam ki?” (What is your name?)  Anand I said. “Eto choto naam ?”  She said (Such a short name?).  Anand Natarajan I said. “Kintu title ta kee?” She persisted. (What is your title?) That stumped me as cleanly as Thala M S Dhoni behind the wickets. This called for research I thought and embarked on one.

This called for research.......

The data was quite revealing to say the least. For those not accustomed to Bengalispeak, “Title” is not anything like the one conferred on Sir Garfield Sobers by the Queen or the Padma Bhushan conferred on Rahul Dravid. It is not even the King Khan, Ulaganayagan kind of signatures bestowed by lazy film journos. “Title” to cut the story short is nothing but ones surname. My research into Bengali names delivered gems like the following:
1.       Most Bengali names are not authentic Bengali if they do not have three parts. Example Swapan Chandra Dey, Indra Mohan Kundu, Uttam Kumar Haldar i.e., First name, Middle name, “Title”.
2.       “Titles” among Bengalis are as many as the pot holes on the Kolkata roads which in the last count were…………you get the drift I am sure.
3.       You have titles which are pan India in nature like, Pal, Sinha, Roy etc.
4.       Two-in-one titles like Roy-Chowdhury, Dutta-Gupta, Das-Gupta.
5.       Titles with hangover of the Raj where Chattopadhyay, Mukhopadhyay, Gangopadhyay became Chatterjee, Mukherjee and Ganguly because the Brits couldn’t pronounce the original. (Forget Dada my Madrasi friends, you aint no fan of his if you cannot pronounce Saurab Chandi Gangopadhyay).
Puro Naam Title shoho!

Armed with the above knowledge I prepared myself with my ‘puro naam’ and was ready for that eventual question which will pop up with regularity. Below is a verbatim version of my subsequent interview with a soon-to-be friend:

He: Tomar Naam Ki?
Me: Anand.
H: Eto Choto naam?
M: Anand Natarajan.
H: Title ta ki?
M: No title.
H: Ki kore shombhob? Puro naam ta bolo title shaho! (Can’t be, entire name please with title)
M: Keezhambur Ramaier Srinivasa Nataraja Anand Aiyer!
H: Eto boro naam! (Such a long name!)


  1. Very good build up.

    Wonderful climax.

    Way to go!



  2. Hmmmmmmnnnnn aaaaeta ki kalponik...

    1. Kichuta kalponik. Docu-drama moto! Shesher interview ta bahu baar ghoteche aamar sathe!