That’s how one’s name is generally asked in India! “What’s your good name?” And, if this query is put to a South Indian, then the listener had better find a chair and make himself comfortable – because some hard core South Indian names can be a mile long and normally include the person’s entire biography, as in – his name and the names of his father, his village, his caste, his community……. take a deep breath and check this name out – Srimadaddankithirumalavaraahavenkatathaa!! Whew!! 🙂
Selecting a name for one’s baby is one of the most agreeable tasks for to-be-parents. Y’all agree? So, weeks before the due date, possible names are short-listed. After the birth, a special day, based on an extensive study of the planets and their alignments, is set aside for the naming ceremony. A few thousands are spent on the elaborate lunch, for which the entire family tree is invited along with cousins, and cousins of cousins and their neighbours too.
At the precise auspicious moment a ‘good’ name is bestowed on the bawling baby and then – what happens? Well, I’ll tell you – even before the guests have had time to burp over their sumptuous lunch, everyone starts calling the poor wee thing by some random pet name like Bittoo or Babli or Pappu or the most common one – Baby, and this one stays like, forever – even after Baby gets married and has a baby.
So when someone asks for ‘your good name please’ it’s possible that they really want to know your actual name and not your pet (and sometimes bad) name! That’s how I interpret it anyway! Actually, jokes apart, it’s just a display of formal politeness and sometimes a literal translation of the original Hindi version – “aap ka shubh naam?” 🙂
Come to think of it, people shouldn’t be allowed to name their children at that tender age at all – there should be a law banning that or something.
We new-age Indian parents are finally grown up and we do realize that children should be given the freedom to choose their friends, profession, life-partners et al; so while we’re about it, why don’t we let them choose their own name too, when they’re all nice and grown up and aware and alert! So parents don’t get a chance to bung a weird name onto the helpless innocent little thing! 🙂 Just think of the embarrassment of having to grow up with unsuitable or downright funny names. What if someone called Peace grew up to be the neighbourhood’s most quarrelsome female; or if Chandni (moonlight) turned out to be the color of the other side of the moon – you know the side which never faces the earth, ahem!
Consider the case of the poor child who was named ‘Asparagus’ by a mother who seriously thought it was a cute name! The girl was apparently bullied throughout her school years. I do so want to know the sequel to this one – whether her siblings were named ‘Spinach’ or ‘Broccoli’! Going by all this, it’s not surprising the newspapers are full of notices from people desperately looking to change their names legally.
” What’s in a name….?” asked love-lorn Juliet and Romeo agreed and promptly declared, “Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” Very romantic! Very dramatic! However Shakespeare doesn’t elaborate if Romeo went ahead with his declaration and inserted this legal notice in the newspaper “I, Romeo Montague, s/o Montague, r/o Verona, henceforth be not known as Romeo vide affidavit …… dated so & so… ” 🙂
Talking of Courts, one mother’s marriage almost reached the divorce court because she was adamant on naming her child ‘Eagle‘, against her husband’s wishes obviously!
And did you hear about the couple from France who wanted to name their daughter ‘Nutella‘? It was apparently their favorite spread!! Oh là là!! Not to be left behind by their classy neighbours across the Channel, one enterprising British couple tried in vain to name their twins ‘Fish and Chips!‘ We get it – that is their staple meal, but the court wouldn’t hear of it and struck it off the menu! Well now, if it was not for the fear of the court I’m positive my twins would be going under the name of ‘Idli-Sambar’. My near and dear ones will confirm that’s my favourite breakfast item!
Elsewhere, a court declared that the parents were making a fool of their child and would not accept ‘Cyanide’ as a suitable name for it. When asked later by reporters for her opinion, the mother was quoted as saying she didn’t understand what all the hullabaloo was about, and she thought the name sounded ‘pretty’. Personally I think Arsenic is prettier!! Friends can shorten it lovingly to Arse, maybe!! 😉
And finally, this 9 year old New Zealand girl was placed under Court custody when she complained that she was ashamed to disclose her name to her friends. The judge ruled that the parents had shown poor judgement in choosing their child’s name. The name – Talula does the hula from Hawaii.
Er…..what’s the good name again? 🙂