What’s in a name?


“What’s in a name?”, you ask. Some would say everything. Ask a person who has changed his/her name based on numerology/astrology/some success formula or just for the heck of it. Well your name is important. It identifies who you are. Does it also define who you are? Umm may be. But my point is how much does it say about you? When you haven’t seen or spoken to a person but just hear the name, you conjure an image of that person based on the name. Talk of first impressions.

Most people have nicknames or real names given by their family or friends which at times doesn’t project a very good image of them or the right image of who he/she really is. It sticks with you throughout your lifetime no matter how much you try to get rid of it. I have a tough time imagining some guy with a funny name taken seriously in the corporate world. But people with such names do manage to be taken seriously. Do they need to put that extra effort for the desired result? Again may be.

Of course there’s no such thing as a funny name. Every name has its meaning(may be in a different culture that you aren’t aware of) and it should not be made fun of. Then again that would an ideal world not the one we inhabit in.

So many times the names are quite contrary to the individual’s personality. Imagine a cash-strapped aamir, a not-so-great-looking sundari, a Prakash/Jyothi/Deepak/Deep being the black sheep of the family, a Soumya who is extremely brash and the list can go on. I am quite sure you have met at least one such person 🙂

Years ago, I heard my aunt tell a bedtime story to her daughter which included a character called Pinky rakshas(rakshas – demon in Sanskrit/Kannada). I laughed my heart out on that one. I mean who would, in their right frame of mind, give a cute name like Pinky to a demon. But turns out she was just following a global convention a little ahead of its time. A naming convention of giving cute girl names to devastating cyclones. Katrina/Sandy/Athena/Rita/Nargis…. They are no where close to giving you the right image of what to expect. No match to the havoc they wreak or the planning and preparations these calamities warrant.

May be they just want people to sit up and take notice or at least hope the reporters will be able to report the events. Remember ‘Eyjafjallajökull’. Yes, I am talking about the Icelandic volcano. Reporters had a tough time getting that one right. Try pronouncing it. Considering that only 3,00,000 people speak Icelandic and that in spite of the same origins it isn’t very close to the other Scandinavian languages, I doubt if you will be able to get it right. If you are able to get it right the first time and without googling, you deserve a prize.

What image do you think your name gives to other people?

Anyway whatever may be your name, and whatever impression it gives the first time, it only matters for a while before people actually know who you are in terms of your words and deeds. As Shakespeare says, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

P.S: Prayers for everyone affected by storm Sandy and more recently Athena.

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6 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. I dont beleive in first impressions because in todays world that saying falls flat.. you know a person once you Know them 🙂

    and a name .. Well Not sure what my name brings up.. but you shud tell me what image comes to your mind when you hear Bikram.. 🙂 I hope a good one ..

    now i have put you on the spot .. so be truthfull he he he hehe

  2. Somewhere around 10-15 years back, parents in India were obsessed by the idea of giving their children unique names. Now that generation of children have grown up and if you open the attendance register of a class, you will be shocked to find names like Tantreshwar (yes, I know the unfortunate boy).
    Sometimes when I am tallying marks of students in Geet’s class, I laugh my head off.

    • Tantreshwar! :O Must be tough getting through high school with such names. What better way to have access to all the latest names than a student name list from school 🙂

      Years ago we used to wonder why people name their kids names like Prasad, Pooja, Aarti or if that is good way of keeping names then why not, nariyal, agarbatti, dakshina, bhog…?

      Even now, I see quite a few friends of mine giving weird unique names to their kids. I had actually included quite a few old and new unusual names in the post but edited them out in the end as people are quite sensitive about names. Though one of the really unusual ones is Anal Singh. Yes there is such a name. Must mean something in Punjabi. I don’t know.

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