Saturday, May 10, 2014

What’s in a name?


We recently welcomed a new member into our family. It was a baby boy for my brother and sister-in-law. Once we settled after a day or two of wishes and sweets, it was time for us to decide a name for the baby. Meaning - time for cutie pie, sonu, gundu etc to be replaced by a proper name.

The entire family sat down to choose a name. My mother set a simple rule -   
Rule No 1 - The name should be short and easy to call.
We all suggested different names but none flew by everybody. I suggested a short name Anu for which I was asked the meaning. Neither me nor anybody else were aware of its meaning. This lead to the 2nd rule.
Rule No 2 - The name should be meaningful and should mean something good.
It can mean Sun or ocean or can be one of Lord Krishna's name, but it should be meaningful and easy to call. We all suggested different meaningful names - Anirudh, Rahul, Arun, Arnav, Kanha etc. Almost every name suggested was put down as there was always some related member in the immediate family or the extended family who had the same name. Now we had the 3rd rule.
Rule No 3 - There should be nobody in the known family circle who had the same or a close name.
This means we had to filter all names from my father’s side, my mother’s side, SIL’s side, my wife’s side etc. This was a big exclusion list. There was always somebody either in the immediate family or on my mother’s side or SIL's side or my wife's side for every name we thought of. After a lot thinking and filtering we finally agreed on a name which was short, had a meaning and there was nobody in the family with the same name. We were almost ready to finalize that name when my mother said that a villain in one of her TV serial has the same name. Though nobody had an objection, it was still too much for us to name the kid after a TV serial villain!! That led us to the fourth rule.
Rule No 4 - The name should not be of any villain in any of the mythological stories or TV serials.

As I sat thinking for a name, I felt we had put a lot of rules which was making things complicated. I agree with some of the rules. A short and meaningful name is fine. I have a long first name and have found people from other countries having difficulty spelling it. I once had a colleague in a different country who could not spell my first name. So I had asked him to call me by my last name and he had called me "Hoshi". I corrected him but later found that ‘J’ is actually spelt as ‘H’ in some places. So Joshi is spelt as Hoshi. I was ok as even I have found myself in situations where I could not spell things correctly. For example, I had once asked for Vegetable Lasagna, spelling Lasagna in the exact same way it is written. I realized much later that Lasagna is actually spelt as ‘La zanne’.

The first 3 rules were fine but I felt rule no 4 was an overkill and suggested to drop it. Not everybody in the house watches TV serials and there will always be in a villain in some serial which nobody watches. Also, anyway we were not going to choose a name such as “Ravana” or “Gabbar Singh”. So it was best to relax rule no 4 and everybody agreed to it.

After long hours of discussion, filtering and deliberation, we have now chosen a name which passes most of the filter criteria’s. It is not short but is meaningful and easy to call. Any further discussion to change that name should happen now as the date for the naming ceremony is fast approaching.

If you still have the question “What’s in a name?”, then please think again. Because the world is in a name.

~Narendra V Joshi

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