For the sake of Names
The below incident happened only last week when I was meeting an old friend who was more than convinced that there is something wrong with my stars - as in the astrological condition of my birth.
"Brother there is one more hurdle between you and success"
My dear friend was contemplating reasons as to why am I still a failure, for I was driving the same Maruti Alto for past 10 years. I was about to register my protest on his outlook of my life, but then he went on pondering over all the pros including my dedication towards business and my hard work and innovations which he thought should have got me success by now. I did not dare ask him what his definition of success was. You see we were meeting after a long time and he from the start of the meeting was feigning an interest in my wellbeing and then in the same breath between soliloquy of praise and pity he declared yet another reason that came to his mind.
"You have got a wrong name buddy. Bloody you need to be named Singhania or Kapoor or even Bajaj to become successful. Sala which Shiwankar has ever been called successful - chal you tell me?"
I laughed very loudly and the small crowd at the chai tapri looked at me. Composing myself between sob of laughter I asked
"So what should I do? Change my surname to one of these or should I even change my name. "
I thought he was joking but he with a very straight face and looking at the sky said almost to himself
"Not a bad idea. I know exactly the person who can help you."
He excitedly pulled out his phone and searched for a name in his Facebook friends list. And with happiness oozing from him cheeks he shoved a profile into my face. It was then and there that I decided to seek the professional help of the lady in question - her name was Shamaa Assif.
So here I was after talking to her over the phone and seeking her appointment that I was sitting in her highly decorative house. The room I was ushered in was decorated with artefacts from all over the world. There was this prism here, a tiger nail pendant there, some shroud looking grim stuff on the wall and paintings that had nude men and women that looked like the poor cousins of the folks from the Renaissance era art . The men and women in the paintings looked like they had landed here after Michelangelo refuse to put them in his paintings. The room was a bit odd but the reason I was here was not to look at the room. I wasn't here for I was interested in fortune telling. I was here because her FB profile pic was cute and her status single. I thought that a pretext of a professional service will be a good starting point and then I can later add her to my friends list and then maybe to my date list. Then see from there where it will takes us. I like the slow build up. ;)
I was intently looking at her almond, beautiful face when her lower lip began to quiver and she spoke to break the long drawn silence. But this was precluded by theatricality that would put Kareena Kapoor to shame. Mopping the non-existing sweat from her forehead and bringing all the expression of a doctor delivering an ominous news to a dying patient she said.
"When did this all start?". I was about to ask 'what?' did start when she without waiting for my answer declared her magical solution.
"You should add an extra k to your name. You know like Kkuldeep. Else you can spell it like Koldiep. That will change your luck and you will see you will taste success very soon."
I had my doubts before coming to meet her which were now kind of getting confirmed. She did tarot, numerology and fortune painting. Her visiting card read that she was a 'Mystic' and I was wondering if is it equivalent to being called unhinged? After asking me to draw some cards from a deck of card and asking me to throw some paint she had labelled me as a looser and her suggestions to improve my situation was 'Kkuldeep' or ' Koldiep'. I ran from that place without wearing my shoes.
However what she said got me thinking. Is it really because of my name? Which wasn't even Kuldeep anymore for my friends had decided to baptized me as 'Kuli' long back. But that how it was in college; Manoj became Manya, Vihang became Vangya and Lejo became Chuha. In Lejo's case it wasn't related to how his actual name sounded but how he looked and behaved - small, agile and goofy like a rat.
Getting a new name can be daunting. So at the end of the first semester when I took the train home all I could hear was my name being called all over the platform. I heard cries of 'coolie' - 'collie' every few seconds and my neck sprained each time I looked in the direction of the caller only to realize that they were calling the porter. Name changing and name calling is a pretty ordinary college day practice. While some gets forgotten after college, others really stick up to your butt for eternity. Mine surely did.
However bad naming practice is not only a prerogative of naughty friends. There are some parents too who have done the disservice to their wards. I want to ask parents who have named their son Vinod - meaning Humour, what do they imply ? Is he a product of a joke or is he a joke personified. A cousin of mine is named Suvidha which actually means 'facility'. I asked my uncle the reason for such a peculiar name and he said it went with the family theme of starting all names with S. Quite short-sighted I must say. There are however people at the other extreme of the spectrum. A colleauge of mine in Siemens had his full name - Rajan Dhanraj Seth. We lovingly called him Richie Rich.
However some parents show genius and brilliance. For example when Karnure aunty delivered a hairsute and peculiar looking son the Karnures named him Manas - meaning Mind Power, something that Humans possess. The name was meant to make it umpteen clear to all that he is actually a human. Manas grew up to own useless friends like us. What else do you expect with a face like that huh! Befriending John Travolta? And we being true friends and his benefactor, over the time, had almost convinced him that he should plan a solitary life. We didn't want him to face rejections you see. However we were proven wrong. Manas did bag a girlfriend and also convinced Supriya to marry him and she agreed. That day it became clear to me what old saying - Love is blind meant. You see all over the world lovers call each other with sweet and cute names, don't ask me why though. Keeping up with the tradition Supriya decided to call Manas - Chiku. A sweet, small, clean subtropical fruit. However Manas has hair all over his body and he has this hard stubble that grows the very next morning after he has clean shaven himself each Sunday. This prickly little stubble grows into a thick beard till the weekend. So I was surprised when I first heard her call him Chiku and told her that her boyfriend resembles a Phanas (Jackfruit), and it rhymes too - Phanas - Manas; Manas - Phanas. So you see that Supriya is not exactly adept in doing appropriate naming. But Manas has inherited the intellect and flair of the Karnures, hence when it came to naming his son he took the lead and named him Svayam - meaning The self-made. Manas has very early conveyed the message to his son - that he is on his own. For he has done his part by bringing him to this world. Period.
But not everyone is ingenious like the Karnures . Some don't take the trouble at all. They simply go by the facts and choose a name accordingly. Let me illustrate this with an anecdote which a friend of mine once told me.
This happened in a small town of Alibaugh where my friend had been visiting a relative after a long time. He saw there was a naughty child hankering for attention. He was scolded and warned every few minutes.
"Arey, Diplomay - please behave yourself."
"Diplomay, say sorry."
"Maa see what Diplomay did!"
My friend was sure he heard the name wrong and that after some time he will catch his actual name. But even after the dinner was done and it was time for him to leave he could not get the name of the child. And since he could not leave without getting rid of his curiosity, he asked the host what was the name of the child.
"He is Diplomay, Ritu's son"
My friend was perplexed at the unusual name and his expressions gave away the question that was in his mind. The host thus explained - "You see, Ritu had gone to Mumbai to get a Diploma. Instead she came back with him. Hence ……"
India is such a diverse country that each region has its own way of cooking food, living and even naming. I think there are these 3 states in India where the naming is very stereotypical. I mean If you hear the names like Dolly, Pinky, Lucky then I bet the surnames more often than not would be Bindra, Mehta and Arora. You see Punjabi's name there kids very casually. But when it comes to naming their pet they take great pride in finding a grandiose name. I know of a family that has named their son Honey Singh while their dog is named 'Sher Singh' .
Now the other state is to the very bottom of India and names like Biju, Bina, Saiju, Sijo usually come from there . Small names with no meanings. They simply do take life easy, a very adorable trait I must say.
But then there is this one state - the land of culture and knowledge and philosophy. Where Noble Laureates like Rabindranath and Amartya were born. They believe in giving meaningful and often complicated names. The more the complexity - better the name.
Sayantika - pronounced as Sa-yaun-tee- kaa - meaning The Arised One
Anirban - pronounced as Au-nir-baoun - meaning The Unextinguished.
Ananyabrata- pronounced as God knows how? - meaning The one with an unique motto in life.
And even Atrindreya- I have no effing idea on this one but it actually is a name of a person.
I am not deliberately touching the topic of Surnames in India else the topic in itself is worth a Novel and Surnames are anyway, like so many things these days, a British Conspiracy. This will be validated if you look at all the Parsees who had to overnight device a Surname for themselves in order to get registered with the then British Administrators. Having no time to ponder over the subject they choose funny names linked with their professions like - Engineer, Contractor, Daruwala and even SodaWaterBottleWala. Poor souls did not even seek advice of the natives or the rulers and thus the blunder. They had not heard the saying - When in doubt, simply ask. Had they sought opinions, I am sure the result would have been different and better. However you also need to be carefully in who's help you seek in the matter. Here let me explain with yet another anecdote.
Once Rahemat Ali, a peon at Santa Singh's office asked his boss Santa Singh as to what should he name his new born son. In order to suggest a proper name Santa asked if Rahemat had any previous kids and what were their names? To which Rehamat Ali said "oh the eldest once is called Barkat Elahi (Blessings of the Lord), the one younger than him is named Shafkat Elahi (mercy of the Lord) and the one younger than him is called Ruksar Elahi (Face of the Lord). Santa thought for a while and said "I think you should name your son Bas kar Elahi (That is enough my Lord). And if you still have more please name him Sharam Kar Elahi (Shame on you my Lord)"
It is an old joke but it tickles my funny bone each time. There are many jokes on the said subject but problem with jokes is that they tend to be racist and insulting. No this is not my opinion. Rather my opinion is quite the contrary for I have endured the pain of being the butt of all jokes when I was in second year- for one complete year. That is how you are trained for life ahead - by being joked about, you tend to take yourself less seriously and develop an healthy ego. I think Jokes is an arty way of conveying the problem at hand without hurling swears and thus avoiding direct confrontation. But these days trend is to take an offence at the Jokes while expressing your 'frank opinion' by being confrontational in the most vile way. Social media gives that power 'to be heard' to all and many are simply not capable to handle this power. Nor I would say are they skilled to discuss subjects with grace and dignity. Self-image in the times of Facebook is more important than anything else these days. Also the history of humour in India is not very encouraging. We Indians think of too many subjects - far too pious to be joked about. Like the Gods, the army and off late even the PM. A joke can make you a racist or an anti-national or even a - what is that new word these days - oh yeah a Pseudo Liberal.
However friends are a different lot and thus I decided to make fun of some of my friends up here, I hope my work has not offended anyone seriously and if it has 'साला तुम कर क्या लोगे ?' (What the he'll can you do about it?)
Signing off - Your's Koldiep. Oh I like this new name. I guess it has already started working. ;)