The Name Game

Logic suggests that the chances of a non-Indian making keema of your name is considerably reduced with a name like Anandamoorthy MaternalVillageNada PaternalVillageKesam. Atleast the attemptee might fake a polite smile and formally request help with the tongue-twister or in some cases, permission to just call you AMP.
But no such small mercies with five-six letter names like mine which instantly metamorphizes into sounds that vaguely resemble your original name. Thus, I’ve been referred to as Maanuck, Maanjo and only on rare occasions been treated to, Mmm…mmaa…how do you say your name? .
My mostly Hispanic hairdressers call me Mano since J is apparently just a showpiece in their alphabet. My cellphone company sent me bills in the name of ‘Manjov’ for sometime until I got off my lazy ass and made the “outraged” call. But for most, I’m Manaash which, if you really said it aloud, doesn’t sound too bad. Or maybe I’ve just gotten used to it, except for the odd instance when some master of wordplay addresses me as Menage a trois followed by self-amused laughter.

The original choice for my name was Binoy, whose patent rights are jointly held by the Mallus & Bongs I think. Joint rights because we Mallus could never further customize the name with a mon suffix, unlike some other members of the “Bi” series like Binu, Biju, Bini, Binsy etc. (Jeez! what’s wrong with my people?) Anyway, my father, and I thank him for this, decided against raising me a ‘Binaay‘, in TamilNadu, and thus spared me a tainted childhood. For those unfamiliar with Tamil, ‘Naay’ means ‘dog’, so you can only imagine how the creative geniuses in school could have had fun with that.

So, Manoj it was. And lucky me, most Indians tend to get the name right. After all, every other Mallu is named Manoj, and so is half the population in North India. The only Indians that have problems with my name are the over-friendly Indian restaurant owners in my city. One guy insists on calling me Vijay and I stopped correcting him after the eighth time, when he said I looked more like a Vijay. Well, what do you say to that, except maybe, “You look like more like a Baldy to me, and in this case, you ARE bald”. Another forgetful restauranteur also rechristens me everytime I visit his place. And for a man who is called Soy(a Mallu of course), he sure has a lot of nerve to mess with my name. The last time I visited his place was for Dosa Night couple of weeks back. And since I had called in advance for a table, he made sure my group didn’t have to wait for long. This pleased me, atleast until he guided us to our table, when he said, “Good that you called ahead, Santhosh”. I was too hungry to protest, so I just thanked him kindly and cursed him inwardly. And as I devoured my first dosa minutes later, I did wonder for a moment which of them poor bastards salivating at the dosas piled on my plate, was Santhosh. Well, tough shit pal…guess you looked like a Manoj tonight.

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