Friday, February 11, 2005

What's in a name
Well, courtesy India having so many languages, the same name gets pronounced differently in different parts of the country (e.g. an Arvind from Tamil Nadu will probably become Aurobindo in Bengal etc.). So my mom has a name (which shall not be disclosed) that, though popular and cool in other parts of India, is one of the most common names for household helps in Bengal; a fact for which my mom still complains to my grandmom. So Mummum decided that she'll give both her children somewhat unique names.

My name is Sagnik - Sagnik Nandy, and when I take my martinis I get shaken and stirred. For those of you who don't know me there are two details you should know - (a) there's an invisible 'H' after the S - so its pronounced "Sha" and not "Sa", and the 'G' is pronounced like 'G' and not 'J'. Thus, even though it's just 6 letters, a lot of people find it difficult to remember my name (my nondescript personality doesn't help much either) - like one of the professors in UCSD (whose name incidentally is Orailoglu) once told me in class, "I know what your name is. I can spell it. I just can't say it." So here are the top three advantages of my name:

  • It makes it less awkward to forget other people's names. I've ranted a zillion times abt how bad I am with names. It doesn't matter if you are Tina or a Tinkerbell, there's a fair chance I'll fumble in front of you. However, if you have no clue what my name is either, it becomes so much easier for both of us.

  • It's a good conversation starter with other Indians. "Wow! That's a nice name. What does it mean?" ... "It means worshipper of GOD AGNI (FIRE GOD)" ... "BTW, if you think that Sagnik is uncommon, you should listen to my sister's name - Sangsthita ..." I must have had this exact conversation a hundred times.

  • If you have ever done vanity searching in Google or if you belong to an area where people might actually Google your name before offering you an internship then having an uncommon name surely helps. Last checked, there were 3-4 Sagnik's hanging around on the web and all of us appear on the front page of Google (if you think that this is not a benefit you should ask my friends Rakesh and Siddhartha abt the problems they've faced).

    BTW, if any of you've had interesting incidents thanks to your names, please share.

  • Comments:
    Stop trying to get to 100,000 words!! Slow down
    Modi, a six figured salary is a distant dream - a six figured blog is all i can hope for :(
    stop blogging so much...my advisor is going to sue u ....first it was only the blog, now I have to check the comments section(which has become an alternative blog in itself) as well....
    ok :((
    All I can tell about my name is that it spells very easyly in Bengali. Unlike my sis's name, which is Oindrilla, my name contains no hosh-hoi deer-ghoi...(small e, big e, in Hindi)...so it makes spelling my own name wrongly rather less common (in Bangla).
    In case you are wondering why I'm cribbing about the Bangla thingy...yours truly never passed a single Bangla school exam in between ICSE and ISC. So there.
    Biplab - come on, you must have faced the occasional question of is "Biplab the same as Viplav??" i try telling all my friedns that Bengali doesn't have V, Z etc., so all names that have these letters lead to interesting changes e.g. Rahul Drabhid
    Try throwing out "Sivani" as a written name to some Americans and sit back and listen to them trying to pronounce it. It ain't pretty.

    Speaking of the deficiencies of the Bengali alphabet... When I just returned from India and joined a University here we had one TA from Bangladesh. I prided myself on being the only one in class who didn't have a problem with his accent, making due allowances for the v/b and f/p anomalies among others.

    Then one day I spent 45 minutes of the 50 min. class trying to figure out what "label" he was talking about, before it finally dawned on me that he was speaking about the "level" - made much more sense within the context, and I was left with a deflated sense of self-worth. It became clear once again just how big the gap is between South and North in India in general, and between India and Bengal more specifically.

    (I guess I should now go in hiding, hmm?)
    nebher do we shey a label :)
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