‘Prem,’ he said, by way of introducing himself. I smiled. It isn’t every day that you bump into a 20-something who has a name that makes you smile first and then look at the person. This Prem, by the way, is an ace mountaineer, has climbed the Mount Everest and a number of other peaks the world over, and was my room-mate for a fortnight during the NDTV-Volvo XC60 Adventure Challenge. Those of you who want to watch the reality show that I mentioned, can switch ON their telly on Thursdays at 8:30 PM and see us doing all that we do on reality shows! And those of you who are wondering if I am ever going to start talking about names, here we go…
‘I’m Arvind,’ I said.
‘That doesn’t sound like a grey haired name,’ said Prem.
I smiled and added, ‘No wonder I tell everyone that I’m 21.’
Did I think of Prem as a villain from a Bollywood flick? No. Would I have assumed him to be 50-something had I just heard his name? Not likely. So, do we judge each other as we register each other’s names in our minds? Not really, though our names may act like ice-breakers and sometimes come with images from our own experiences with that name. So obviously, my name isn’t just a meaningless tag that makes others form an opinion about me… I mean, so long as I don’t go with one that is as outlandish as ‘Yahoo’ or ‘Kebab’ or ‘Bomber’.
However, some kind of an image does tend to go along with names, for instance, ever since Arvind Kejriwal has emerged on the political horizon, people assume I’m the sort who would hang upside-down, every corrupt person around. To tell you the truth, I might do that, but I did not stop blogging after 49 posts, did I? So I’m NOT Arvind Kejriwal for sure. But yes, I cannot stop some idiot from tagging an image from his experiences to my name!
The Urban Dictionary offers to define name as ‘a label given to you. Contrary to popular belief, it has NO effect on your personality. Names are only to stop one person from getting confused with another. They do not suddenly make you some amazing person you are not. You can change your name from Sarah to something strange, like, say, Azaria, and you will NOT suddenly be unique and pretty and so on.’ That’s something we all know and think we agree to… however, most of us also believe that names have a connection to our lives. No, I don’t mean that every Hema is going to open a dance academy or sell Kent ROs or every Arnold is going to spend all his time in a Gym and utter monosyllables like ‘I’m back!’ But I have certainly seen and observed people be somewhat opposite of whatever meaning is attributed to their name.
Let me explain my ‘ulta-pulta’ theory of names to you. Why does Mulayam always play a rough game in politics? Why has Man Mohan failed to win the public’s heart? Why doesn’t Mamta show any love or appreciation to creative cartooning? Therefore, I have always believed even though the synonym for Arvind is a lotus flower, I am NOT a wishy-washy, head-in-the-air sort of person who will write only romantic lines of poetry! I know how hard I am with words and never allow them to simply come and flood my laptop screen whichever way they wish to. I order them around and I make them march to my tune. I am a Hitler with words! Now this is so very ulta-pulta, right? But look at Aravinda Adiga… do you think he is the sort of person who’d have a soft approach to creativity? Or can Arvind Kejriwal be content to smile like a lotus and do nothing?
A corollary to my ‘ulta-pulta’ theory of names is that you need to somehow change the name of a person to make him behave differently! So we just need to get Robert Vadra to change his name to Ramdev Vadra and I’m sure we’ll see him twist his toned torso into an unimaginable tangle but leave all land scams for ever. Imagine what my theory will do to people like Bangaroo Laxman, Dawood, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Veerappa Moily, Shriprakash, Kanimozhi, Alagiri, A Raja, Nitin Gadkari… we’ll have a political world that wouldn’t need a Kejriwal to come and threaten anymore. What I say is that there is no point in asking Sunny Gavaskar to replace NarayanaSwami Srinivasan of BCCI… just change Srinivasan’s name to Sunny and your job is done! Let Mayawati henceforth be called Nirupa Roy and we’ll see her put a full stop to all those massive stone elephants sculptures for sure. Let Jayalalitha be Waheeda and we’ll be happier to see her dance her way into spinsterhood!
But let me get back to my name. Am I happy to be Arvind? Yes, I am… because I know that with my name with me I’m soon going to be the darling of the media (because Arvind Kejriwal is) and also possibly get a few published works (because Aravind Adiga is a known author) to see that my smile doesn’t fade a bit… though please don’t ask me to wear a muffler the way Kejriwal does. I prefer wearing my Spitian cap that covers my ears!
Coming to the title now… well, it is names that live. People die. And I’m sure there will be some parents even in the year 3014 who would call their son, ‘Prem’ who would meet some Arvind in some reality show and smile and mutter, ‘I think I read about our meeting in some blog post that was written a hundred years back.’
What does your name mean to you? Do you like it or hate it? Why? #WhatsInAName
Topic posted by Narasimha Sharma Veturi under Memoirs – 30 votes
Post written on the topic in Edition 6 on Indispire on Indiblogger
02 April 2014