>Name Sake


What’s in a name, they ask.
Ask me and I’ll say, “So much.”

What do our names say about us and our society?
A name is an indicator of the society’s values, our family history, our lives.

Boys are wanted because they can carry the family name forward. Girls get married into another family, take on another name. They are not wanted.

Why does she write Aanya Chaitanya when her husband is George Correya? Why didn’t she change her surname after her marriage? How do I address an invitation to them? Mrs. and Mr. George Correya? Mrs. Aanya Chaitanya and Mr. George Correya? Isn’t Aanya and George enough? What will their children write as their surname – Correya or Chaitanya? Or Correya Chaitanya? Or C Correya? So much problem – just because she didn’t change her surname!

Her name is not numerologically suitable for her. If she writes her husband’s name, it will be. No, there is no other option. And what’s the problem – all girls change their surname after marriage. This will be good for you. What about him? He can just add an ‘i’ to his name. No need to change the name. How can the man change his surname?

Why is a married woman ‘Mrs.’ and a married man still ‘Mr.’?


Yadav, Ram, Tripathi, Saxena, Singh, Kaur David, Khan. Are you a Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Dalit, pandit? You are what your caste is, religion is.

Alice Singh – is she a Christian or a Hindu? Or a Sikh? No, then she would be Alice Kaur. Did her parents have an inter-caste marriage? Did her mother convert?

What are Kumars? His father writes Agarwal, his mother is a Muslim. Why does he write Kumar? He must be a Hindu. But they celebrate Eid. Is he a Muslim? Then why does he write Kumar?

Neha. Neha what? Just Neha? Why doesn’t Neha write a surname? She must be from a scheduled caste. No? Then why doesn’t Neha have a surname? What do we call her – Neha what?


What will they call their baby? Did the astrologer give a lucky letter? But I don’t like this name. How does it matter? The numerologist said it was good.

‘S’ – all the people in our family have names with S. She’s also going to have a name that begins with S. It’s lucky. For whom?


Do names have a gender?
There’s a boy called Jyoti. And a girl called Rajesh. Charu is a girl’s name. It’s also a boy’s name. Santosh – is that a girl or a boy? And Anshul? And Pukhraj? And Gurinder? And Angel? Do names have a gender?


They misspelt my name. On the school board. I was the Head Girl and they misspelt my name.

No, I am not Geetanshu. I am Gitanshu. No we’re not Kapoor. We’re Kapur. I didn’t say Anupma, I said Anup-a-ma. We’re not Dubey, we’re Dube. And he’s not Ashish, he’s Aashish. It’s Dipak, not Deepak. Does it matter if it’s Shahrukh or Shah Rukh, Mehrotra or Malhotra, Banerjee or Bandopadhyay?

Yes, it does. It matters.

And they ask, what’s in a name?!

11 responses »

  1. >arrey chodo yaar, kya farak padta hai?in college, we always used to ask, aashish what? it wasn’t a casteist thing…jus that we were more used to calling ppl by their surnames. nobody really did mind, but i guess the surnames do become very important for some people.i remember this once, i’d been to my friends’ place in punjab. and i used to keep calling out for him with his surname, and his dad would wnaswer,’yes beta…’…and i’d feel so silly 🙂

  2. >I hope all this wasnt bcos someone spelt yr name with a ‘u’!!! well, sometimes my memory fails even me:) you know more than girls names, I think its when u name guys that parents ought to be carefull. like a crazy name like lets say Irene, or Jithu is ok for a child (after all, its just a name).. But when it is a given that in our society wives and children get surnamed after th 1st name of the ‘head of house’, we should think of that when we name a male children.Well, the though was provoked after hearing some really absurd names of mallu kids (who are the ones who stress most on tradition)

  3. >super rant! names do matter.. its one’s identity.. names sometimes lead to nicknames and those r more precious (and sometimes pretty annoying too)..but yes some of the issues u have taken up just touch our deep rooted superstitions.. well some names do have gender! 😛

  4. >thats a great post…n i know that you feel very strongly about the subject. the girl getting her surname changed after marriage is actually not fair..apart from the identity thing…thr r so many other technical probs!imagine..if u dont like someone..u even start to hate the name…and then maybe everyone with the same name!and then they say…whats in a name!!

  5. >@Dbum: You know this thing of addressing people by their surnames is a very ‘man’ thing. Women rarely address each other by their second names. Wonder why… And maybe, it wasn’t a casteist thing with you, but the only reason I wrote this post was because I realised and observed how a lot of brains work to give credence to casteism.@Ab: No, not at all :)In fact, I stumbled on my misspelt name only after I’d written this post. And found it quite amusing!@Ankit: I did think of adding the bit about nick names, but I hate unweildy post and this one was threatening to become one!@Nikki: Yeah, I know you know 🙂 And even if there were no technical problems, would a guy ever change his surnmae for us? I mean, men take it like an assalut on their manliness if you even suggest as much (ok, the men I know at least). And yes, you start associting names with certain qualities. Which is why no matter what Ravana may mean, no parent would like to call her child by that name.

  6. >Interesting…They make a shell around themselves and call it as their world..They dont stop there…they will label those who try to say theres space outside the shell as insane..thats how they live…

  7. >@Jeya: Sorry, I’m a little lost… ‘they’ would be…?@littlewriter: Of course! But that’s where I go back to my previous post – you wouldn’t smell a rose if it looked like a cactus!@elixir: Thanks you 🙂

  8. >Really interesting read. It’s been a while that I’m here. Was travelling. Whenever someone asks me ‘what’s in a name?’, I ask them to put my name on the pink slips they get. That’s of course an expensive way to learn what’s-in-a-name.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s