What’s In A Name?

For the longest I didn’t like my name, I thought it was a big headache. Very few would get it right the first time and it became my responsibility to educate the world. It was too unique for my comfort.

I was born “Purva”, against much opposition. No, nobody had a problem with my being born but everybody had a problem with that name. Didoon(my maternal grandmother) preferred Shayanti, the dusk-born. Her wilful, first-born (my mum) imperiously thumbed it down with a “nobody will get it right and she will end up being Shanti”. Thamma (paternal grandmother) didn’t even bother to ask and went ahead and got “Chandana” carved on a pendant meant for me. So, Purva flaunted a Chandana around her neck for years while patiently explaining the nuances of her name.

In school I probably had the shortest name with the longest surname - Bhattacharya. A surname that transcended all barriers and margins in the attendance register, coupled with a short but tricky name. A new class, a new teacher and I would brace myself for the pregnant pause, the inevitable fumbling....Apoorva?......Purrrrr?.....Apoorbo? I would sigh dramatically and correct my teacher. Once our anglicized Geography teacher tried a heavily accented Pushpa with me, I almost hissed back at him. By Xth, I gave up and changed my name to Purba, it sounded much simpler. My friends playfully shortened it to Baa and spent the rest of the session searching high and low for a suitable Bapu for their Baa. I snootily turned down all suggestions.

Much later in life as a school teacher I met my namesake. Unfortunately for me, she was the most notorious girl of our school with a language so colourful that it would make even the senior boys blush. The icing on the cake was that she and I even shared the same birthday – I almost died of grief that day.

And now as a blogger there has been a role reversal, with me at the receiving end of names of the strangest kinds. Imagine a world, where pineapples can be lazy, forests that can dispense gyaan, elephants can fly and you are expected to engage in a serious debate with a Champaklal Bhogilal? It borders on surreal. It doesn’t stop here, hysterical-banshee, crouching-tiger-flying-owl, the-hippopotamus’s-crowning-glory, khadooskhatmal.....the list is long and relentless, as if the entire blogging community has ganged up against me to play a cruel joke. And more often than not, the names are longer than their comments. ChampeeCharminar says.....Haha...Thanks CC, glad I could make you laugh. And you are still not sure whether it’s your post that made him laugh or your reaction to THAT name. One of my dear friends has chosen to go French and calls himself Le Embrouille Blogueur. I still have no idea what it means and haven’t dared to ask either. My tongue goes into paroxysms every time I try to pronounce it and prefer sticking to a lame LEB.

After a deluge of such awe-inspiring names, Purba sounds almost commonplace now. It’s just too simple to type and almost everyone gets it right. And to make it worse I now have a surname which even a two year old can comprehend. I want a name that will make bloggers pee in their pants, have their fingers tremble in tension. Tantalizing names are playing hide and seek in my head – udaaschudail, dilettante-auteur, flying-monkey-on-a-moonless-night, Thambi’sRosy....

I am seeking help from the blogging world. Floor me, scare me, make my eyes pop with your insane suggestions.


  1. oh ray, purba is eastern mystique! its nice and cool. your posts do all what you wish you name would!! so maybe you should stop being amusing and be a marble cruncher!

  2. hey, just loved your post.I have also been suffering silently since the day my parents decided to keep my' bhalo nam ' Rajashree.Still can't figure out what is so 'bhalo' in it.

  3. The one problem regarding my name has been the spelling...
    Double 'A' instead of single.. Thats it though!
    Very amusing post!
    Have a wonderful sunday:)

  4. Lol! :D Purva was such a nice and simple name and I can't imagine why people would get it wrong. One of my physics teacher had called me Nehra once and the whole class burst into laughter. It was so embarrassing.

  5. Haha..that was most amusing(and,you didn't even mention our matching blog title names...ROFL)...a big grin at 'finding a Bapu for their Baa'-sounds pretty Gujju-style..MKG and Baa and all..if you follow history.:)
    You want a scary name,that's make bloggers pee in their pants?Let's pee,err,see now- Draculette,Queen Kong,Maa Shakti Kapoor.....???

  6. Marble cruncher hurts, magiceye. Btw I deliberately left out your name. Wouldn't want to piss you off.

    It's royal Rajashree :)


  7. Purba ... soothing name and a pleasing blog.There is no room for any typos or mispronunciations there. Chandana on the other hand...is like Chandannagore ...reminds me of Durga Puja lighting and nice mishti . Cannot recall which movie but the dialog goes something like this ... badnaam huye to kya ...naam to hai . That is what LEB will be thinking as he tried to recall why he had to come up with a French name !! Enjoyed it !! Thanks for the mention !!

  8. Nethra....Even now people insist on calling me Apurva. I don't even bother to correct them.

    Amitl....Me loves Maa Shaktikapoor. But what if it scares all my readers away?

  9. Hey,

    If you think your name is hard, see mine. I think only one in ten people don't write it as Sakshi, and I think only one in fifty pronounce it right. All my teachers have stumbled over it for years.

    On the other hand, I'm not likely to meet many people with my name.

    So, here's to all the unusual names. :)


  10. Dont be concious,PURBA is such a lovely name

  11. Whats in a Name...You reminded me of the play by oscar wilde "The Importance of being Earnest". You should read it. Its a real drama. I think there is a movie on it too, haven't watched it though.

  12. The only time I got laughs about my name was, when in school in a story by some Bengali author, the muscular son-in-law was called Nalini!...The sun rises in the east...and nothing can be more positive than that!...unless you are haunted by some purvajanma's melodies, Purba is a lovely name.

  13. LEB...Exactly! why that name? And you can't get away with a corny dialogue :)

    Sakhi is a nice feminine name, too bad most don't get it right.

    Thank you Chowla Sir

  14. Oscar Wilde's plays are always sparkling with wit. I have read the play.

    Nalini..LOL @ purvajanma's melodies.

  15. Wonderful. Every parent want their child name to be unique and today to help them there are plenty of books in the market to help them.

    One of the funniest name I have come across is English cricketer "Sidebottom"

  16. Lolzz...Thambi's Rosy is a mallu name, right?

    I would go for that!

  17. Rajesh..Sidebottom is cruel and anatomy defying.

    Jon...Sounds cool na?

  18. But sidebottom is some name that makes the cricketers laugh and he has the amazing capablity to wipe that laugh off a batsman's face

  19. Hey nice post there, Talking of names , My name is suresh Kumar S , We had sixteen people in our MSc classroom and four of us had the same name !! You are a good writer , Keep it up !

  20. Interesting post
    When I was born the astrologers wanted my name to start with 'R'. but my parents had already decided on this name. So, I don't understand why did they consult the pundit anyway. Maybe, just to spite him. ;)

  21. Hilarious Post Purba - Enjoyed it thoroughly. Am not sure though why people would have trouble pronouncing a simple to say and lovely name such as yours!

    Being in the Middle East, I have heard various iterations of my name at work and have learned to live with being called Sumaiya more than once!

    I had done a post on pseudonyms embraced by literary greats a few weeks back http://www.buzzzstop.com/2010/06/arose-by-other-names/ and that might provide some inspiration for your search for a suitable alter ego for the blogosphere!


  22. I have a really long name that frequently gets corrupted..earned quite a few nicknames along the way...kinda like a few of em though

    CRD is simple, right?


  23. God, am so out of sync with cricket Jon.

    Seeker..Must have caused major confusion and chaos.

    But Prateek does have an R, a close second to P :)

  24. Will be reading your post soon, Sumaiya ;)

    CRD...Absolutely, but what does it mean?

  25. Nicely written. Wrung a smile out of me at the end of a hard day.
    You do write well (except when you're writing about doctors), so with your permission I'll add you to my blogroll.

  26. LOL that Doctor diatribe was not meant to be taken personally :)

    And thank you for blogrolling me.

    Now that I know a few Doctors in Jaipur, I wouldn't mind falling sick there.

  27. ur name is so simple ... imagine my "sharmila" people in Delhi always use to call me sharmili n in kolkata they called me "shor"- just imagine that ... i use to get so frustrated !! but now i like it eventually n feel it's much better than "sharmishtha" "urmila" n so many more like it !!

    p.s. btw ... as usaual it was an amusing post ... enjoyed it !!

  28. The challenge is to accept our roles....

  29. Long time Sharmila, good to see you again.

    Sandy...At a certain stage don't we all. Is it called reconciliation?

  30. I think Purva is a better name than Purba.

    By the way where did you get the name 'Thambi's Rosy'? sounds like a malayalam 'A' film name. LOL.

  31. Ahhh u r bengali right?? me too.. can understand the pain..Purba is still very normal...I don't dare use my real name..I known by my pet name in the online world be it any website. :)
    p.s. u have got a good blog going on..blog on! subscribed!

  32. and i use this id to comment on blogger blogs..I blog at WP

  33. That Mallu name has piqued a lot of interest.
    Btw Joshi is an unusual name as well.

    Reema...Thanks :))

  34. As an amateur blogger,I always thought the biggest challenge was to get people to read one's stuff. Even more daunting is when one writes something very personal and readers/strangers are expected to get hooked on to it, maybe read till the end.

    Phew, I must tell you, I'm a fan! The ease with which you draw a stranger to get involved in the aspects of your life, the consistent flow of humor that adds such a unique flavor to your writing...Mind blowing!!

    I love it! Looking forward to learning and reading a lot more from you :)

  35. Oh My God Purba! this was hilarious ! I know LEB and had commented about his name in indiforum. The confused blogger, it means but I must say he is a very mature guy, handled my comment graciously!

    just loved it! But u know what writing with ur own name is much better, u are taken as a serious and professional blogger, ah i don't know what impact my name "restless" has on ppl,does it make them tickling or something.. God knows!

    take care


  36. Aww thanks so much, Avinash :))

    Restless...Ultimately it's your writing than matters.

  37. I've got it. Point Blank Range. Simple enough, yet mysterious.

  38. Simple and deadly Kaushik !

  39. Someone who changes their name - acc to me is not so worthy of their new name either :) ... whatever it is... its our name and v r bound to be proud of it... !

  40. People have their reasons Varun, can't pass judgment.

  41. Sitting in a Development Economics lecture, you almost got me busted. I tried my ass off not to grin foolishly as I usually do while reading your blog and failed several times.

    One, I still don't understand how is Purva so difficult to pronounce. Sweet dumb Bongs!

    Two, Udaas Chudail would be awesome!

  42. Honey, the sweet dumb bongs always got it right!!

    And you will get me busted, what if your lecturer sends me a strong worded reprimand?

  43. You're a teacher yourself. I know you'll handle him.

  44. Can you please (pretty please) take 'Blogging 101' classes?

    Really love the command you have over your words! Many blog posts, including mine, aren't edited well. Yours is in a different league!

    Do you write short stories? I should really find time to 'explore' your blog - maybe there are hidden gems here!

  45. Kartikay...That's one of my failings, can't write short stories.

    And about typos and grammatical errors, one just needs to spend more time on the post. Sometimes I spend days, changing a line here, rephrasing...believe me it works.

    And your blog is fresh, intend to revisit it.


Psst... let me know what you are thinking.


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