Friday, December 10, 2010

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
- Willu Tauji aka William Shakespeare .

Shakespeare, in a fit of venereal rage dropped the appellative bomb. Little did he know that years after his death, an epithet could turn into social epitaph. Denominative misadventures could lead to character assassination.

Wondering why the fuss about the name? In a country like India, the name is more than word that people use to call you. Name speaks about the person's cultural identity. Name works like a GPS co-ordinate pointing the geographical entity where one hails from. Name tells you which demographic subset you belong to. The magnitude of the impact that a name has is often underestimated by many. I, for one, have a misleading name, which unfortunately is the antithesis of the real me.

Some names are so long that Obi-Wan Kenobi could travel from Coruscant to Tatooine, back and forth, before you finish spelling these name. Whats the big deal with lengthy name, you might ask. Russian women's tennis players have long names, don't they? Well, they are Russians and the tennis players are hot. Ever heard of a Russian called Phil Mayer or Maggie Cole? No? Neither did I. It is natural in Russia to have a name more potent than Absolut vodka.

If you think its uber cool to have 20 lettered name containing 14 syllables... Ah, well, you are a dumb ass! Do you think a Rangarajan Ramasamy or Chandramohan Suryanarayanan would stand a chance against Raj Malhotra or Aman Sharma in the brutally Darwinian social arena? Do you think a Muthulaxmi could compete with Nehas and Ritus. I don't think the people who appreciate such cruel naming conventions are capable of understanding the equations at work behind the modern societal framework. The old guard often cling to the past. To them, the world hasn't changed after Indian independence.

A name has to be presentable. The Chinese have discovered this long back. Mr.Yang Zhiyuan would rechristen himself as Jerry Yang once he lands on the west coast of USA. How long will it take for the Indians back at home to realize that you go extinct unless you adapt and evolve? Its more than just a name. Its about how the kids are brought up. We need to raise our children so their personality blends well with the world and not disjoint from it.

Let me walk you through the time line:

Year 1985
Meet Sundareshwaran Vaikuntanathan Thangasamy. (that's one name) Sundara for his parents, conveniently called SVS by his peers. Yes, SVS sounds like the name of a transport company. Our beloved Sundara has no option, but to suffer in silence. Sundara earned his bachelors from an IIT and masters from Stanford. He works for a MNC in Mumbai which pays him handsomely. In-spite of Sundara's success, the much coveted "In a relationship" status on Facebook has evaded him. Enter some random dude called Arjun Khurana, a new intern in the PR department. Arjun can't figure out the cube root of 8 even with the help of a scientific calculator but he still manages to walk away with all the pretty females.

Year 2010
Our Sundareshwaran and Arjun are married and have kids. Sundareshwaran's daughter Shashirekha thumps her thighs singing the Carnatic ragas. She has enrolled for the Bharathnatyam classes too. Sundareshwaran's son Shashikumaran is preparing for JEE. Meanwhile Arjun's daughter Anya is back from the beauty parlor. She is learning jive and listens to Lady Gaga(who does not have affiliation to any raga). His elder son Arnav has never managed to get an 'A' in acads, but he's taking his 'n'th girlfriend to a rave party nonetheless.
And the cycle continues.....

As I wait for the dawn of Rohan Namboothiripads and Neetu Iyengars, the senior Padmanabhans and the Chandramoulis are probably angry and cursing me for writing this. Demeaning writeup they'd say this is. Totally obnoxious! Well, sir, I didn't mean to offend you. Good for you and your kids if you are happy with their names. What I intend to convey is that names are no good if they serve as social contraceptives. Are you willing to sacrifice your stubbornness so that your children and their children don't end up being social misfits?


P.S. Don't even think of going anal over this post unless you are Pubus Dicksworth from Crotchington.