What’s in a name?


I recently read a joke in which there were two brothers, who had the same name ‘John’. One brother was a tourist bus operator, while the other was an undertaker. So, to avoid confusion, the people in the town called them ‘John – The Journey’ and ‘John – The Final Journey’ respectively.

This joke brought a smile to my face as it reminded me of the naming convention we follow in our community.

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             Courtesy – http://www.flickr.com

Unlike everywhere else, where there is a family name and all members of the household share the same family name, we follow a different system.

So, for example, if my name was Dev, and my father’s name was Kumar, and my grandfather’s name was Raja, then my name would be Dev Kumar, while my Dad’s name would be Kumar Raja. So, father and son don’t share the same surname.  But that’s how it is!

The other big naming convention we follow is that if the first child is a boy/girl then he/she automatically takes his/her Paternal Grandfather’s/Grandmother’s name. If the second child is also a boy then he gets the maternal grandfather’s name; likewise with a second girl.

But the real confusion lies in this scenario. My husband’s grandfather had six sons, each of these sons has a son.  Now, since all of them are firstborn sons, all of them have been given their paternal grandfather’s name.

So, when we meet for family functions and weddings, we have a lot of confusion, as each time someone calls out to one of the grandsons, six voices respond.

To make it easier on the family, we now prefix their names with their professions or the city or town they hail from. So we have

a tycoon Raj
a watch Raj
a pilot Raj
a banker Raj
a Mumbai Raj
a newspaper Raj

Despite having all these nicknames, we still end up being confused.

There is another twist to this naming story. One of my cousins has maternal and paternal grandfathers, who have the same name. My cousin has two sons, so the first one has been named after the paternal grandfather,  and the second son after the maternal grandfather. Since both granddads have the same name, both sons have the same name (of course they have different suffixes to their names).

One can never say, “What’s in a name?”

There’s so much in a name and lots of fun to go with it.