Thursday, June 18, 2009

a nik by any other name

Giving birth to my children was easier than giving names to them.
S and I agreed on Neel after 6 months (ok, not on Neel – we loved him from the time we saw him) but on the name Neel. I offered a list of 12 fabulous strong boy names, and S said let’s call him Rohan.
2 1/2 years later, I went into hospital clutching my 110 agreed-upon girl names, and we had another boy. So I agonized over 15 strong boy names, and S said let’s name him Rohan. We went through all the books and all the sites and it became an international naming process, with everyone contributing. The baby was called Nemo because he drank like a fish. Then Yoda, because he looked like a wizened old wise man. He was finally named Nikash under threat. (Srini threatened to call him GilliGilliAppa). Let me also add that no one calls him Nikash. He’s Nik, Niks, Niku, Niki, Appu, Kutta, Nikky Poo, Sweet potato, and even Big Dinosaur (his name for himself).
What is it a name means to us? Do we want our kids to be proud of what they’re called? Do we want them to grow up into their names – Like a Rose or a Veer or a Sundari ?
Naming significant others in the family was tons easier. Like our pup got named Marco Polo, because he walked into the house, and explored every corner, also peeing in each one of them (not that the original Marco Polo did – or at least, I have no proof).
The toys also were named super-fast. One car is actually called Super-fast. Neel has a very descriptive and action-oriented approach to naming. When asked what he wanted to call his little brother, he replied “Rolly Polly Machine”. His stuffed tiger is Ferrari, his stuffed dinosaur is “Green Fire Nose”. And after agonizing over the name of his stuffed dog for all of 2 days, I walked in and asked him “Neel, have you named your doggie ?”
“Not Yet, Mama,” he said, and NOTYET is the doggie’s name ever after. Amen.

Learning :
Would love to hear from you what you named your kids/ dogs/ spouses/ cars – but the why – and especially the “how” . Was it the letter of a book? Or from the pages of a book? Or some old girlfriend you had a crush on? Or the name of grandparents, in which case, I would be named “Antonio Santana Felicia Anna Maria Cajetan Salvadore da souza”. Sexy, huh?


  1. hey - i got to think about naming in the first place because of a friend's new blog post - futsi - fill in your url please. but ha ! she had it easy ! she had a GIRL to name !

  2. Funny how I was thinking about this today and you write about it. Not the first time this has happened, and it *is* funny because I think of quite random things and you write about quite random things.

    Anyway, this one was prompted by the news seller yelling out that Bruno and Ali G have a new movie out or they got arrested together or fell off a cliff together or something. And Bruno, is it happens, is the name of the first dog I ever met in my life. I don't think you ever forget the first dog you meet.

    Bruno is a common British name in Britain for a man, and a very common Tamil name in Tamland for a dog. My Bruno was an alsation and he lies buried under the threshold of the house he guarded all his life.

    And that took me to wondering about other dogs I met in Delhi and how they all had 'phoren' names like Tommy and Jimmy and how their owners always spoke to them in English while the lingua franca in the home was kattar Punjabi.

    And I mused that maybe this has to do with our colonial past. Maybe the defiant Punjabi decided to name his dog after the local Burra Sahib and get some of his own back at the colonialist, not just with the naming, but with making English the standard for canine communication. Maybe not. But an interesting possibility. Like how Aamir's dog is named Shahrukh.

  3. More thoughts:

    We had an extra name lying around the house that Seju wasn't using, so we let Keya have it.

    And regarding Marco Polo. You don't need proof that he peed or didn't in every corner of the world he visited. He was human. So the pup was well named.

    Finally, GilliGilliAppa IS A GOOD NAME!

  4. Talking of names - we had a difficult one as the first name had to be Bong, but had to rhyme with Srinivas!!!We threatened to name her Rowdy Rangamma, Rose Nirmala, Akilandeshwari, Thenmozhi, Tamizharasi (no offense to you if you are named such!) Of course, grandparents had their request, so finally her name is Keya "Rohini Padmavathy Alarmelmanga Rama Aandal Medha" Srinivas.

    The postman here is rather confused about the inmates of this house - no one has the same surname!!!

  5. pachydermus - ali was the name of my first dog. the next one i just may call gilligilliappa. and seju - is that REALLY keya's full name? all of it? like 1 name for each day of the week?

  6. ali. wow. how is that for a coincidence.

  7. Hi there....mine YVONNE....connotations ....IVAN, EVON, EVE, EVONNE. IVYONNE...DEBONE, VON, mother should have it simpler...guess she wanted to remember ADAM & EVE...I come quite close to EVE

    But my NIKU....will never change.....

  8. Nikash is a rare dignified name he will be proud of. Someone I know named their child Amar. He is now an Amar Marjani...( Forever Dead )

  9. The easiest part we found with naming Kiana (other than the fact that she turned out to be a girl!!) was that we did not ask for any opinions. We decided and that was that. There was a bit of a clash at first as I was adamant I wanted an Indian name. We couldn't settle on anything and then looked at Sri Lankan ones for Bobby's sake. No go there too. So we decided to meet half-way - admittedly we'd have to pick Hawaii up and drop it into the Gulf of Mannar for that. We loved the name Kiana right away for its meaning "Moon Goddess". Afterward Seju googled it to find it also means "one who leads an enlightened life".
    Jane, as you know from, naming Kiana was easy compared to my other naming dilemmas ha ha ha. Thanks for mentioning my blog btw.

  10. We had decided on naming our daughter on our own, and not be bound by the sacred alphabets that are taken out by the we named her Aarushi, which means the first ray of dawn..absolutely loved the name and the meaning..In walks in a 'learned' modern astrologer and claims naming her with 'A' wd make her life very difficult, wd not make it easy for her to achieve her goals. and here we thought that the only repercussion wd be her being roll no 1 in class:-)
    Hate to admit it but we were not stong enuf and gave in and changed her name to Navya..I personally like the name but not as much as Aarushi !

  11. hey jandy...i often crib about the name my folks saddled me with :) neel and niks seem to have it good. rohan wouldn't have been terrible either, except every boy in indian advertising was called rohan for a few years i remember...
    i call my cats acp pappoo singh (acp=aiyee chi poochi) and kubla khan. but that's only because they ordered me to do so ;p

  12. We actually took a long time to decide on our daughter's name - Priya. Being in the UK we did not want any name which can be twisted to mean nasty little things & also something simple & Indian which did not need to be abridged. On top of all this we had the alphabet "P" given by the priest to my mother-in-law who was adamant it be used !! Then to top it all was the 30 day birth registration deadline to keep - otherwise we would end up with a nameless daughter whose birth was not registered because her parents defaulted!! God knows what complications that would have brought at the time & in future. After a lot of debating & agonising we settled on Priya (loved) for her but guess what the "rrrr" sound is too difficult for some people with stiff tongues to get around - so she never gives people her full name otherwise she would be standing there all day trying to get people to say "Priya Thethi" - it sounds like a tongue twister to some people!!

    Our son's was relatively easier - we were 8 yrs wiser & we had learnt from Priya's naming experience. Also we wanted something which had Raj in it & had to accomodate "S" as the beggining which my mil had helpfully got from the priest again for him!! So he ended up Savraj(ruler of everything) which he is proud of & willing to beat up anyone who gets his name wrong!! But we are not too sure because he wants to rule on us as well!!!!!!

  13. well what i wished for i had a baby girl. me n my hubu were searching for names from the time we got to know that i'm expecting. at night we use to sit together on net n do research on names. we wanted some tagda name for kid. after she was born time came when we have to get the birth registared and suddenly we were like what name should we select so we use to call her by all that name which were finalised in list and thought the name by which she responds would be her name. AND finally we got her name which we never thought would be bcos name which she has was never on list but suddenly saw in book while turning pages to go thru again. but we love her name a lot and another she doesn't have any other nik names bcos of this like sweety,muunni,baby,lali,choti and bla bla bla bla.............. as many kids have which i hate. she is called by her name or short version of that name.

  14. I wonder who invented the name 'Raju', I want to know what it means? I want to know how many Rajus exist in the world. is it a greek, spanish, english, hindi, punjabi, portuguese, bangali, marathi, french or bihari word?

    all I know is that you go any part of the country or world you find one Raju, be it canteen guy, local mechanic, auto-rickshaw guy, butcher, ceo, super-star, dhobi, painter, sweeper, cleaner, robber, there's one with the name 'Raju'.

    I wonder if people still name their sons 'Raju'? is raju still in fashion?

  15. Hmm.. As of me. 2 boys. It was very easy. We had no strings attached. Though we had a name that was insisted by a Jain Sadviji, whose preaching sessions i devoted towards the last 2 weeks of my first pregnancy. She insisted we keep the name Soham. No it did not sound right, and we insisted she approve the name Siddhant. Now living in the US, knowing it will get shortened - Sid did not sound bad at all. So Sid it was and not Soham. The 2nd Pranav was easy. Again Siddhant, an 18 month old boy insisted it be Veer and no Pranav:(. We did not listen, on 2nd thoughts Veer would have been apt for that little boy. But we wanted Pranav because the meaning was profound - Praan Mantra - OM.

  16. That was really your grandparents names? So beautiful sounding. We named our child the meaning "godess of the water", and now everyone just calls her Baby :-)

  17. I call my childhood friend "popat' cause he used to learn everything by heart and he called me "bean bag" cause i am very lazy. We stopped calling each other these names cause it can be interpreted differently