...and then

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The art of calling my name in full.

For as long as I can remember, the only person I call by a pet name is my brother. Everyone else, however close they may be to my heart -- and I've been blessed with several good people in my life -- I call them by their given name. My best friend from school is still to get used to it, I think. And I've known her 22 years.

I like to think that a name is more than just a tag to identify a certain body. A name, as far as I am concerned, is deeply linked with who we are and how we identify ourselves. A lot like an email id actually. I notice invariably that teenagers and those who think they're still teenagers stick to pet names and email ids that have personality projections in them. I can take the pet name but the email addresses make me want to never write to them, even though I love them.

For example, my 15 year-old cousin calls herself Joanna Janet in places such as Facebook and email. Or some really odd thing like that. It fits her personality perfectly because she's growing up on High School Musical and Hannah Montana, so her exposure is very obviously Western. I'd have given her an award if she had nicknamed herself Subbulakshmi or Kartiyayani. I totally get her because she is 15.

But I recently ran into a few email addresses that made me realise that I spend far too much time thinking about things that I have no business thinking about. Mosquitoes, world peace and whether global warming is just someone's idea of a joke, for example. I should be thinking about not spending my money so fast that my kids will grow up believing education is for duds and Pink Floyd rocks. I should be thinking about more alternatives for five minutes of peace  than the empty interiors of a parked car. (I swear I did that today. My family trooped out and went home, I just lay in the back seat savouring the closed space, the quiet and the time to actually hear myself think.) I should basically be thinking about more useful things than why a grown person has an email id that says babyfacekid@ihaventgrownup.com.

Yes, yes, call me judgemental but I think after you've crossed 23, you should just have an email id that states your name and get on with life. I realise you might want to or have to throw in an underscore or a dot somewhere and I am mildly tolerant on that front. But I just cannot forgive a 34 year old whose email id is prettybabydoll@seekingattention.com.

But wow, how I've digressed.

Recently, a friend brought it up when I was referring to someone, that I could use that someone's pet name. I know I could but an anglicised little name doesn't have half the charm of a beautiful full name, in this case a Sanskrit one. And all the meaning that is held in the womb of that name is lost when I shorten it. I'd much rather be uncool than called a Pratyusha a Prat or a Ragini a Rags.

And as for me, for as long as I can remember, friends and family have called me pet names. One in particular. Anglicised, shorter and somewhat bimboesque but that's what I am for most my college and school mates, and definitely all of my family. Except my husband. Who has a totally different endearment for me. Something that I hold dear to my heart but something that also makes me laugh because it points to a couple things.
1) The age gap between him and me.
2) The very Malayalee in us.

Of course, when I am in the dog house I get called my full name (ouch) or when I am being introduced to someone. It's the strangest feeling ever. Sometimes when we are out together and he's opening doors for, showing me off and generally being the charmer he is, he tends to call me my name and I don't know then, whether to kiss him or laugh at the awkwardness of it.  Mostly because I insist I get called my beautiful, thoughtout, meaningful Sanskrit name but then feel suddenly very unloved when I get called it in full.
It leads me to think that maybe it is habit that we respond to and not our name. Inflections, tone, length of name is what we respond to. For example, a simple enough name is so different when spoken during roll call in school, at an introduction or in bed. The word is the same but the emotions they arouse in us -- from an indifferent "Present" to a thrill running up your spine.

So when Shakespeare said, "What's in a name", I honestly think he was smoking some rotten stuff and had totally lost the plot. My other theory is that he called his wife by his girlfriend's name and she gave him pure hell.

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Ramkumar said...

Great point you make here ! Even I usually tend to prefer the Full name if it sounds melodious and pleasing rather than some short westernised name. Of course sometimes, it does make practical sense to shorten names and get on with it in the close social circle!

But I am totally with you on the email id, but I would like to point out one case - where in may be a few people made their email ID eons ago when they were still in school and trying to be cool and then over time that email ID got so mail contacts attached to it that they now simply Cant change !! :D Just a point though... :P

and LMAO at the last line !! HILARIOUS ! :P Whats in a name Indeed... Eh Cakespeare ? ;) :P

6:44 am  
Anonymous Roxana said...

Interesting post. I am usually Roxy to people I am close to and I am fine with that. That is not the case with my sister and my best friend though. They have beautiful names (the friend is called Sanyukti, I love the name) but they acquired pet names along the way and sadly, no one calls them by their beautiful names, anymore.
Another thing that bothers me is how people make name associations - consciously or not, I identify with my name. I wonder if other people do so too!
My Ex had an adorable moniker for me (one among a million) and yet, in public, he would insist on calling me Roxana - in full. I know what you mean when you say it sounded strange, not to mention awkward (as also the fact that I got called my full name, when I was in the dog house, in which case, OUCH). It would take him a couple of times to get my attention, because it would seem so unfamiliar, the name rolling off his tongue like that!
There's everything in a name!

8:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother always called people she met Mr/Mrs/Dr etc and their family name - even if (as she is to most) much older than them.
I usually vary - depending on circumstances - but my brother is always his full first name - but he calls me by my abbreviated one

3:24 pm  
Blogger S said...

i hate i hate i hate people giving me pet names..and the kind of big name that i have people often love to 'shorten' it..and when i am being referred to by my name in writing the spelling is almost always wrong...ppphhhhbbbbt !!!

btw, lovely post. Can relate to every single word of that. :)

11:20 am  
Blogger TheFatOracle said...

Hmm, never liked the unimaginative nicknames my name inspired. If yours is anglicized and bimboesque (I'll stop ;)), mine made me sound like one of Gabar Singh's aadmi.

Like your rants.

1:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh i am a full name person too...i am totally uncomfortable calling people by pet names. and yes that makes me oh so uncool and seems to indicate that i aint that "close" to the person...But come on...what difference does changing a tara to taru make ?

11:18 am  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Ramkumar: Welcome to the blog :)
You absolutely have a point about getting stuck with an email address. But you know? It's not that difficult to switch :) My husband has a story or two that he's still reeling from about names being shortened. :)I used to know a Parry who was Parameshwaran I think.

Roxana: You said it, girl. There's everything in a name! What's the ex's name for you? :)

ynotoman: I find men more receptive to calling full names than shorter ones. And you're mother's a true lady! I don't know how many people still do that.

S: Hey! Welcome to the blog. Have you been here before? I couldn't tell by checking your blog out if you had. So glad you liked the post. Thanks :) Misspelling. Let's not start on that. I used get letter saying Mr My Name. And to anyone who is Indian mine doesn't remotely sound like a man's name.

TheFatOracle: Hahaha, yours inspires some pretty dehati names :P But that's the thing, I am so used to everyone calling me the name you call me, that I can't do without it. So don't stop :)

dropzofjupiter: Haha! Damn, I totally forgot to include that in the post. How is Pinky shorter or dearer than Divya? Or Sneha shorter than snehu?:)

11:50 am  
Blogger shai said...

I think your husband and mine use the same mallu endearment...though we are very nearly the same age :)

I think you have mentioned your dislike of petnames in a mail, so am not suprised at this post. mispronunciations and mis-spellings of my name put me off more!

12:00 pm  
Blogger Nash said...

interesting! whats in a name....well I have been told I have an old fashioned name! I dont care..its mine, I have always had it and always will. I am not shortening it for anything in the world! Dont care if too many people cant pronounce it too well either. I intend getting them to call me by that name and not Nash or Naush ...something I have been told would be easier on them!

1:19 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am old fashioned too, when it comes to names.

1:35 pm  
Anonymous Roxana said...

Haha, I am going to have to mail you in that case. And misspelling? The number of times I have got called Rexona/ Rukhsana/ Roxanne. Lost track of it, but riles me up all the same!
The first time someone pronounced my name right, was my friend's Persian mother. I loved her for it! :)

6:27 pm  
Blogger Sandhya Menon said...

Shai:These mallu men and their love for that word :D Even a north-south difference in pronunciation puts people off. I remember a girl from Delhi who hated her name being pronounced by one of our professors who was a Malayalee. Her name had the first four letters as yours. She would pronounce it in the north Indian way -- Shae -- where as our prof used to say it Shai and it used to tick her off!

Naushad: Your name's old fashioned? Okay, I didn't know. But with a name that has a 'sh's syllable in the middle, you can be sure it will be shortened. So all the best with getting people calling you your full name :)

Durga: Hey durga! Welcome to the blog.

Roxana: Rexona? Hahahaha. I am sure that can get pretty annoying. I owe you an email. So don't write to me till I write to you :(

11:50 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said.My every day name is simple to spell and yet have seen it being mispronounced to insane distortions all the time.And then when I moved to the US, it got truncated exactly to 50% of its size.Any more cuts and I would be left with one letter.My wife shares a name with one of the South Indian heroines. When I introduce her to people, there is always a smirk. Not sure if it is a comparison or pure disapproval. The thing I like most about your posts is the flow.Enjoyed reading and relating to this.

8:55 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home