Saturday, October 11, 2008

In the name of the Nair, and of the Papoos and of the Aboobacker!!

Besides the sound of cluttering knives and spaghetti that was more interested in giving me an Italian facial than navigate towards the mouth, lunch was going fine until someone thundered….

“Could you pass on the salt, NUMB ASIAN?”

Wolfgang didn’t bat an eyelid while requesting, though it did mightily offend some ayyo paavam guy in the lunch table. Later in the day with profound feelings my colleague expressed regret at the racial slur which he seemed to regularly face from Wolfgang…


As was done in college's back home, he began considering ways to import his Chettiar uncles to teach the Wolf’gang a lesson or two…Thirunelveli style!! Thankfully it cost me only two Budweiser’s to get him back in good spirits and ofcourse comfortably numb…Needless to say, as a country blessed with surplus of names ranging from Mukherjee’s to Chatterjee’s and Venkatapathy’s to Chakrapani’s, we have often the most mispronounced name’s in the world. And this was no mere flash in the pan.

Infact many folks in office have asked in hushed tones whether SubHash did really trade in it… or why NiThin was not really thin…mea culpa, partly my fault I taught european colleagues how to pronounce Indian names...

Banerjee became B-energy
Nambiar became Numb-Beer
became N- “I Do”

As a result one fine day, B-energy, Numb-beer and N- I do did give a nice sermon to this madrasi…what to say, they got it wrong…Madras is just one of our little offshore colonies thampi!!… Kadavulei …all my fault!!!

Talking of names, I have a name that sounds great only if you have a Dr. besides it like in Dr.Drake Ramoray and my brother has a name which he should have shed by the time he was three…But then its in our genes to stay young forever and it was a greater plan by our forefathers to have a dozen kunjumon’s, a couple of kunjachen’s and a sprinkling of kuttitachen’s maintained in police records of changanasseri every financial year…a well executed family tradition for the frigging old to stay young forever… In our household even Sarah Palin is fondly called Sarahkutty!!

As people often are reminded more of unusual mallu names which actually are derived from ancient Sanskrit sloka’s (for eg. Sunny Thomas comes from the sun god), we often miss the gems from other states…Other day my roommate told me about his cousin who is apparently called ‘New Begin’…
Yes, it’s a name with all due respect to his bro must have come from parents who were not happy with the elder one and all hopes were on a ‘new beginning’ in their sordid lives…
If there are heights of creative names. This is it!!
Thank god, he did not have a younger bro who would in all probability might have been ‘Apocalypse Now’!!

As New Begin is currently onsite in New York I have to stick with names here. But again germans have a weird sense of humor coz someone like George Fock doesn’t have the best surname in the world for a pleasing ‘Good morning Mr.…..”
As a matter of fact, I am now used to an office having boring Boris and wonder Gunther and such names don’t scare me anymore!! Hitler though does…

But who am I to blame about names…After all back home our people understand this catastrophic problem and I have learned to know that most kannadigas are either a boss or a helli saar….most malayalees are aliyan’s and machambi’s and most north Indians are baap of someone!! Who cares about real names anyways!!

P.S. watching my city video..:-)


Nikhil Narayanan said...

In our household even Sarah Palin is fondly called Sarahkutty!!

Have heard similar thing about Queen Elizabeth being called Lissy Kochamma.

Perukale kurich etra ezhuthyalum theerathilla.


Jennifer said...

Nice post. Though the names you quoted are actually from an American's perspective easy to mispronounce.. even names like Nair and Kumar (my husband's sir name) are horribly botched. Nair becomes n+air (like we breathe) and Kumar.. don't even know what people come up with .. even after Harold and Kumar movies.. :)

silverine said...

"Sunny Thomas comes from the sun god" LOL!!

So Sunnychayan is a suryavamshi! Wow! :p

Now you know why we mallus stick to Tissy, Lincy, Jessy etc. Mallus were visionaries. They knew that the world would become a global village soon and hence decided to make things zimble for others. I guess the Germans and the Slavs are the least visionary in this regard. I would call them cavemen in nomenclature evolution while we mallus are miles ahead! :p

Mishmash ! said...

Sarahkutty was a very sweet one.....:D Talkin of mallu names.... I live with one (:P) and thank god that he has a universally accepted middle name which he cleverly established right from the beginning of his career...oru paavam victim :)

Btw, to aliyan and machambi list you can one more,'pullikkaaran' :)


Mishmash ! said...

heyyyy u re staying in such a pretttyyyy city

Praveen said...

'new begin' of the weirdest names i ever heard..
in my class, there was one guy called hara2..his elder sister was named as hara1..:P
ever heard of numbering ur children?

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

I'd a friend who's dad was named as Pehla coz ther grandfather was in army and got too fond of hindi. His uncle was named Dusra :). The above comment isn't a lie. I know Hara2 :). U might've seen his dad's trademark though. His dad own's the hara travels in tvm :). So the name.

I rem reading one post in someone else's blog explaining the meanings of mallu names. Like paramadayil jose and Tharayil manoharan :). Thinging abt tht post still makes me lol. Nice that you didn't goto that extent, else the lady sleeping below me in th train might've got the shock of her life at 11 in the night with a guy laughing looking at a cellphone :)

freespirit said...

he he he :) i agree with silverine's comment about mallus being visionaries when it comes to names, but have u heard punjabi names, they beat the mallus hands down!

Ever known that hillarious punju called sweety/pinky/lovely/simple/dimple/ love/lovely/honey/minnie/mickey ....? :D

Ms Cris said...

LOL!!! 5 AM in the morning and am here reading this! And worse laughing loud!
Wont initials work? Like hey MC (or is it CM - in which case there could be competition)

VMJ said...

hehehe (thats the old fashioned lol) dude what can i say :D i'll just bow before thee god (ohoh!!)

VIDYA said...

LOL! no doubt we all love lil sarahkutyy :d, my grandad once told me abt his frnd in england called him 'Men-ON' :D must ve wondered why his name was in the plural form. nice post Dr. Mathew (doesn sound as nice as ud like it to, lol kiddin, oh btw is ur bro;s name 'baby'?? i know a 55 yr old with the name :D

TheGreatOne said...

oh come on, what's in a name? :-D To this date, only 3 people have pronounced my little name correctly! :-P

mathew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mathew said...

@Nikhil Narayanan
Yes...I think we can write epics about names..and it will never end!!hehehe..

"even after Harold and Kumar movies.." :-)
Nair is eaily mistaken...but i guess other indian names are easily mispronounced even more!

@Anju got it right..
People dont understand the sophistication behind the seemingly zimble mallu names!;-P

I know...I guess he can actually make a trend there...even Barrack Obama is not a conventional name after all...;-D

and city is visit here sometime..

Jeez..they are defintely way beyond the league of names I know!!

LOL!! Pehla...too much..
what all i have to see with this post..Hara yum pehlayum!!;-P

The post you are talking of might be talking is from Poomanam...

yes..i think we have a rivalry with Punj names ..definitely...
Probably we should have a Mallu-Punj conference of names or would be one laughing session..

Thank you...:-)
its i can easily get things done with a call..hahahhaa..

today is weekend..and I know how much sense you have now..;-P

@Vidya got it right with Bro's name.. Men-ON...he could have been sued for harassment in England.. LOL!!

@The Great One
yeah..I know..I have a bengali friend Sayantan who claims that no one else but a Bong can pronounce Kolkota perfectly!!;-)

anN-series said...

jus like sarah kutty...chech and chettan have a black guy called james who comes to help clean the house...and is fondly called 'jameskutty'(i dont think he is a kutty from any angle)..we stole the idea from george thekkumootil's appan's name for james bond

Thomman said...

@praveen: LOL! He was my senior at Loyola as well as SCT. His name was Hara2A, the elder one was Hara1A. They have a lot of buses and the children and buses have the same name.

@mathew: Well well well, look who's talking. Aaalkaare choriyunna swabhavam vittittillalle Mr. Choriyan Mathai!

Rahul S. Nair said...

i suddenly remebered appachan in Akkare kazhchakal calling james bond, jameskutty..

Abraham Menacherry said...

Great post!!

New begin... hmm that is the pits!! I had a class mate called Polite who had a sister called Delight. I will mail him pronto abt somebody having an even worse name!

Deepti said...

Sarah kutty kelkanda :D

hammy said...

The title of the post is really inspired.


The post kinda reminded me of Ben Stiller's character in Meet the Parents and it's sequel...

Ben Stiller played male nurse, Mr. Gaylord Focker.

Interesting, no doubt.

hammy said...

Another thing... I remember an old article from Dave Barry, where he puts forward the theory that Germans have their names mangled up because of a severe shortfall of vowels in the area.


mea culpa said...

germans have a weird sense of humor coz someone like George Fock doesn’t have the best surname in the world for a pleasing ‘Good morning Mr.…..”

That was so cool....

Salil said...

"What's in a name? That which we call Mathayi by any other name would be as sweet" Or would it? :-)

Aiswarya said...

Yes, it’s a name with all due respect to his bro must have come from parents who were not happy with the elder one and all hopes were on a ‘new beginning’ in their sordid lives…
If there are heights of creative names. This is it!!
Thank god, he did not have a younger bro who would in all probability might have been ‘Apocalypse Now’!!

Classic.. I couldnt stop laughing!!

Aiswarya said...

btw, My friend is aclled, She!!

mathew said...

LOL!! Jameskutty...I remember a rusell peters show where he mentioned about a south african who was named !xmobile%.howzzat..

hehehe..oru sleha vere slehaykku para paniyellu!!;-P
Hara1A :-O enikku vazhiya..

Yes..i love that show too..!!:-)

ROTFL...i love reading the comments for this post..It would be a Delight to meet Polite!!LOL!!


@Hammy such surnames are quite common.. and yeah Dave Barry is always right!!;-D

@mea culpa
Thank you..and thanks for visiting!:-)

Well...I have never had a shortage of name-calling in my a chronic victim..;-P

Thanks a lot..
She is called She!!hehehe...
very creative..;-P

kochuthresiamma p j said...

my sympathies with all who suffer in the name of names.
pl check out this post-tells u wh agony my name has caused me.

xylene said...

haha. How about names like Kochukochu, kuttikochu, kochu, baby???? Baby would be the best name ever. (like VIdya mentioned)

Imagine a non-malayalee's surprise when a 45 year potbellied man is called Mr Baby.

Jyothsna said...

There are very few Westerners who can pronounce my name! Can't blame people, after all it's not easy to say Kothapuratthu/ Unnikattu/ Thotankara and other unpronouncable house names that we mallus proudly add to our names :)

Macadamia The Nut said...

Omg Mathew! Your most humorous post yet!
Votta name-ing tragedy

Personally, I don't let people get away with mispronouncing my name :D
If they can speak French and Spanish.. then what's a little Indian thrown in? Huh? Huh?

I split the syllables too :D
And after they agonise over and get it write... I 'generously' give them the shorter and much easier version

mathew said...

@kochuthresiamma p j
hehehe..yeah i have been a victim myself...:-P

Well if hollywood film stars name there children Apple or Guvuva..why not Baby..;-D

Yeah..forget about westerners..even non-mallus dont manage to pronounce these words..:-)

@Macadamia The Nut
Thank you...If you go for classic difficult names we are better of..have you see Thai names..ayyo..they can strangle you while trying to spell em..:-P

scorpiogenius said...

good one...

know what, my mother had a Tamil colleague in her office and her name was "Arumappenkodi"... gotcha?

just means 'lovely young girl'...:)
but, what a name to carry all life!

Dhanya said...

New Begin? My friend's hubby is Newman n we keep teasing him.. He'll be happy to know about his cousin :)

usha said...

reminds me of an old teammie Shyam.. the look on his face when our counterpart from Prague calls him "Shy-aam"

Alameen said...

I had this schoolmate named Fahmi. Those days, we pronounced his name in two syllables where 'me' being the second. LOL.. We didn't know the meaning of the first syllable during those days..