Sep 21, 2005

Whats there in a name?

My name is quite a complicated one.. unless you are from Tamilnadu or may be, Kerala, it is hard to pronounce my name correctly. My nickname is Raju and I asked my father one day why I cant keep that name for school. He said that, according to the Brahmin tradition, it should be a God’s name, and since we are Vaishnavites, it has to be one of Vishnu’s. In school, my friends started calling me “Padhu”, which became “Pathu” (ten)! Cant expect anything better from a small town like Rameswaram, you see..

Other names I used to be called with love by friends are “Kokku” and even “Nindraseer Nedumaran” (thanks to my height).

Moved to Madurai when I was 12. In the school where I studied 8th, one friend got the name “ottagam” for me.. Where is ottagam found? Thus, the name became “Paalaivanam”. Didn’t like it one bit, sounded very dry.. but I didn’t have much choice for the few months. In the subsequent school, mostly I was “padhu”. I indeed used to write with a “bhan” ending but the data entry operator of my SSLC took away the ‘h’, so I had to sacrifice it.. (Name in Class 10 certificate is the most important, u seee.. ) never got it back.. For the first time, had another guy in my class with the name “Ananthapadmanabhan”.. Luckily no confusion.

Then to college. “Padhu” or “Padma” for few months (since ours was a Boys’ college). Then got this name “sithappa”, which stuck throughout.. That is a name given to some unique person in the college, I was told.. (Remember the ‘sithappa’ in Azhagiya Theeye). I was fun-loving, studious, jack-of-all kinda person so may be that’s the reason I got it.

Didn’t realize the seriousness of the problem with my original name until I moved out of the state when I came to IISc, Bangalore. All those who came across my name on my first days in IISc gave a broad smile. I didn’t know why. I roamed around the campus and found a bungalow where someone with exactly my name lived. (First I thought, what, have they allocated this bungalow to me, rather than the host? Cha cha.. cant be.. ) Fortunately or otherwise, the director of the institute had exactly my name (without ‘h’) !! And he was a biochemist ( I was in the physical chemistry then). Some letters of mine used to go to him (one even my train ticket, which I got a few hours before the office closed on the day of my travel). And some of his ‘general’ letters used to come to me. Whenever I saw him face-to-face, I would think “is he gonna ask me something about our similarity?” I don’t know whether he still knows about me.

He was called ‘GP’ by one and all in the campus, so my first-day friend, whose father was a faculty there so he knew the significance of my name, immediately christened me as ‘GP’. Thanks to him, for simplifying the perennial problem, but also little bit complicating it. Ever since, I am ‘GP’ to all the people and stuck to it. Once when I sent a telegram to my research supervisor about extension of my leave, he later said he wondered “Why the director has to apologize to me for coming late by two days?”. LOL….

Realized the ‘real’ situation when I visited Europe for a conference few years back. The people in the travel committee, etc. had to chop/kill and chew my name as they wished. They said “u have some uncomfortable extra syllables all along ur name” !! There I met my current research advisor and he started calling me “Padma”. Some Indians who heard so gave a ‘top-to-bottom’ look at me !!

Then came to US last year and while saved myself by telling everyone in the department to call me as “GP”, it became hard with so many people with whom contacts had to be made by phone/person. After the initial nervous moments due to not having a surname, which made my last name and first name get swapped, I decided to tell those people to call me “Guru” (which is exactly how my father is called by his relatives and friends). Not bad, since the Americans are familiar with that name and also they would be calling me as Guru.. (hehehe). It got to such a level that, when there was a visitor to our group, I introduced myself to her as “Guru” and my boss was surprised.. He was like “what did u say? What was it?”. :-)

Whatever it is, somehow I am bored of the name GP. Every restroom has got the handwipe paper from Georgia-Pacific, with an emblem ‘GP’, so sick of it!! I miss the name Raju so much, so decided to request all you blogger friends to address me as RAJU from now on. That’s the take-home message after reading such a long post. Thanks in advance!!

25 comments:

tt_giant said...

I hear you man. But bow down in front of me, because my full name has a paltry 38 letters!. But I just go by Deepak.

So its going to be Raju, eh?. Hmm.. guess I have to repair my fused neurons now.

Ram.C said...

Raju... as you had mentioned, it is an apt childish name, like 'buddhu' 'chinnu' etc., We can call that way, no probs...

I have seen people changing blog names and blog titles. This is the first time that I am coming across a blogger rechristening his name for blog's purpose.... LOL(Eventhough your blogname still has the Georgia-Pacific name.. let it remain as a tag, atleast to remember the origin)

visithra said...

Ehhehehe enna cute story - my name as short as it is has gone through veethus and kolais - so i understand!

So ure changing ur blog nick right! 2 ppl sandhosam me and the other gp ;p

rendu peruhm ehn blogleh one time comment adicha ennaku confusionthan varudu ;p

So ellow Raju ;p

ada-paavi!!!! said...

i have same problem, 'srivatsan' gets distorted to sreewathsan, or sreewatson, or shribason (bengalis) or even stevatson, and ive even been called stevenson, so i introduce my self as 'vatsan' everyone can pronounce it with ease

Raju said...

Deepak, 38 letters??? TelBram, I understand.. Take my sincere bows..

Ram, Raju is a bit childish not so much as the names u mentioned.. (BTW, "Buddhu" means fool in Hindi, do u know anyone having such a name? :-) ) Raju was the name of Rajini in "Thaiveedu" and Shahrukh in "Raju bangaya Gentleman". So not bad.. :-)

Raju said...

Vis, story was longtime due but name-change was a recent wish.. Blog nick is of course changed. Not only it will please u and Ghost Particle, but there is one more GP commenting in Kaps' posts, a very regular one, thus preventing me from commenting for his good psts. Now I can !!

Vatsan, the problem I have encountered with your name is a different one: Srivatsan is usually a tamil name and Srivastava is Northie's name.. I met people with both these names in Bangalore and atleast 3 or 4 times, I messed and mixed their names up.. LOL'ed at ur evolution to "Stevenson"...

Balaji said...

never knew there was so much in a name :-)

Raju said...

Balaji, yeah, you never know until u dig deep into it.

mitr_bayarea said...

ok Raju...that was a long story behind the name change, but if Raju is how you would like your name to be from now on, you should probably take away GP from all your records-is that sthng you plan to do in the future or is Raju just for us bloggers..

Me too said...

Bye bye gp! Hello Raju!

I thought 'Paddy' was the universal short form of Padmanaban!

Anyway, the idea of having a different name at home and outside(official) have always fascinated me. It has lead to a lot of funny incidents too!

ram said...

Something is there in the name. Raj_You?

Raju said...

Ram, yeah.. Raju, not Raj, will be me.. :-)

Narayanan Venkitu said...

Wish Granted my son...( I am god you see - Narayanan )...I've changed your name to Raju ( ex-GP).!!

Nice and funny post...Our names and how they get slaughtered here in the US.

My Name is Narayanan and my father's name is Venkatasubramanian ( eppa...romba perisu).!!!. He shortened his name to Venkitu..and thanks to our system my name went into my school records and passport and hence my social security etc..as Venkitu Narayanan.!

Now more confusion. People call me Venkitu.!!!

Good Luck Raju.!!

Nitin said...

heh, good for you narayanan. my name gets tortured everyday by my teachers. my name is Nitin Balasubramanian. they go, Nitin ba ba ba, and say did i say it right. After one point i get pissed and say "ur way off". Raju is an easy name, will start calling u that.

Raju said...

Narayanan, thanks for ur kind heart... :-) wondered at times about 'Venkitu' part of ur name.

Bharathi said "Jaathigal illaiyadi paappa" and we follow part of it by not having pretty much any surname in TN (politics is badly screwed, thats a different story).

I see another good trend in that, educated and smarter people of this generation do consider for foreigners while naming children nowadays... The best effect from people getting children in US. Names are most often short and elloroda vaayile nuzhaiyara madhiri irukkum.


Nitin, poor you. Very easy first name but tough last one, huh? What I said for Narayanan holds in ur case too.

visithra said...

raju never prevent yourself from doing something that you wish too just coz of something so small ;))

i think all comments are precious ;)

Raju said...

Vis, yeah sure... Thanks.. I will. Comments are precious indeed.

Nag said...

See Raju, i told u five years ago itself, what shakespeare has told "what is there in name?"
now its up to u ;-)

Raju said...

Nag, I dont remember that or the context at which you told. (was it during one discussion on "Koli"?) You can call me GP, yaar.. :-)

வெங்கி / Venki said...

Raju, neega eppavum enakku GP than. GP-Great Person

Raju said...

venki.. enna ippadi sollitteenga... romba thanks.. great ellam onnum ille naan.

kalai said...

no comments...join the club! ;)

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