Friday, June 3, 2011

What's in a name? Kerala style

There are fads when it comes to naming kids in Kerala. At one point in time, the craze was mixing dad's and mom's name and coming up with a totally meaningless (and in some cases meaningful) name for your kid. For example, if mom was Lizy and dad was Itty, the name of the kid would be Litty. Now, this guy named Tim would in due course marry Litty and their son would be named Titty. (Swear to God I did not conjure this sonflower up. I know a guy who goes by this name.)

More samples:
Bhaskar + Ammini = Bhamini/Ambha (girl).
Bhaskar + Ammini = Amar (boy)

And then, there was this time, when we went globally historical. We had names like Lenin, Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Stalin etc.(Tamil Chelvan Karunanidhi got bitten by this bug, and we have a Stalin in the Azhagiri to Kanimozhi continuum.)
And, a junior in my school was named Isaac Newton (double swear to God - first name, last name - yes!). I am sometimes tempted to put this in my resume, "I went to the same school that Isaac Newton did."

Let's move on to Betnesol - the name of a senior student in college. Yes - Betnesol, named after a medicine. Betni, if ever you read this, please don't take offense. I also had a Ghosh and a Bose in my batch, full blooded Mallus, none of whose ancestors had ever even been to Bengal. You Bongs watch out, we might even come up with Banerjee Pillai some day, if we haven't already.

But what most people in my state hate is the fact that most of us have initials, instead of proper middle names and last names. My name is Sajish G.P. It irritates me to fill out a form, where I have to type "P" as the last name.

But I guess I'm fortunate. I clicked these pics in a hospital where my dad was undergoing an eye surgery.

This fellow is a classic. I'm sure the Cold War is over, but the CIA still has an annual budget allocation to monitor his communication.

And while we're talking CIA and Russia, here's Mendeleev's (Bernard Courtois actually) contribution to names in Kerala.

Poor thing - she must have jumped in her seat during her medical studies every time they said tincture of Iodine.
Wait, did I say "she"? May be Iodine is a "he". There you go - the most unisexual name ever!

Phew. I'm glad that parents don't get to pick your e-mail IDs at least.

Update: It's been a couple of years since I wrote this post. In a recent visit to Kerala, I saw another instance of "family" names. Here you go:

There's still room for Shabin, Shebin, and Shubin in the family. Go ahead, get another auto and bring 'em on.

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