dingchak.net

Modesty Outraged

The importance of being Suresh

Filed under: Uncategorized — dingchak at 8:26 pm on Thursday, August 10, 2006

As a nation of Software engineers and a generation of Barista sipping BPO baby boomers transition from chilled beer to child bearing , these anxious about-to-be parents are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for that perfect name for their baby – one that is exotic sounding – preferably quasi-mythological and that is still pronounceable in a call center setting, and, one that ensures a unique mail id on yahoo or gmail without appending a large prime number at the end to distinguish it from others, and in their mad search through musty old Amar Chitra kathas and hasty subscriptions to www.cool-desi-babynames.org and www.watchamacallit.com, there is a forgotten casualty that has fallen silently by the wayside, a roadkill deserving of a proper eulogy, before we permanently lay it to rest.

I am referring to the humble ‘Suresh’, or for that matter Ramesh (and to a lesser extent the Ganesh) – names ubiquitous enough a decade ago, now rarely ever considered, or if considered, usually as a prank or as an ill-conceived revenge. As an experiment, look around you. How many young couples do you see deciding between Anya,Ananya,Anikya, Anikanya,Adi,Maya, and suchlike, or for the more adventurous -Kapilavastu, Soorpanaka, Ghatotkacha, and what not have you, ..and look at just how many are named Suresh. None? I thought so.

But this was not always the case. Couples in the 70s evidently thought Suresh or Ramesh was a cool name- we all know quite a few Suresh’s of our generation who are perfectly normal. As in most things in India- the movies played a big part in the naming of babies (unless you were on Kerala, where babies were named after the leader of the communist fad of the day). The Suresh of 70s movies was a ‘nice’ character, a friend of the hero (who was usually Vijay, or Rahul, or if you were tamilian-Alex Pandian- though this name never caught on, for some reason, I wonder why), and in some cases he dies, virtuously. Our conservative parents, in an uncertain, un-ambitious time, never aimed for their children to be heroes, they just wanted their kids to be nice, have nice friends, and be harmless, mostly.

On the other hand, the parents of today’s globalizing, attention grabbing India want their kids to be superstars, Hrithik-sized over-achievers, with names that retain their Indian-ness, that are both eclectic and enunciabile, given this, who can blame our Sureshs’ for being hopelessly outclassed?

But how long can this go on? What happens when these unscrupulous parents exhaust the Mahabharatha, the Ramayana, and the Upanishads. At some point, our exploding population is going to swamp the names in the Hindu Pantheon, and what happens then? Do we reach into the Jataka Tales? No my friends, let this madness stop right here, before we start endlessly exhuming and recycling fringe characters from obscure epics. Imagine having a class with three Jarasandhas- (who would almost defintely go by the nicknames of JP, Mota Jarasandha, and The Other One), as if children didn’t have a tough enough time sorting out the multiple Srirams and the Karthiks at school. Also think of the incongruity of having an exotic first name before a pedestrian last one( though a Natasha Balasubramaniam is probably not as lame as a Vichitraveera Patel), utter confusion. Enough! Will someone please think of the children?

I suggest a back to the basics approach, like the one adopted by the good folks at IIT Kanpur, but with a twist. Let everyone have the same first name, and let the last name be whatever they would have had before -their father’s name/village/caste/tribe etc, saving this trigger happy me2-wannabe generation many thankless hours of mythological excavation. The gods are with me on this one, trust me. Of course, the first name, would have to be, Suresh.

13 Comments »

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Pingback by DesiPundit » Archives » A Eulogy for Suresh

August 14, 2006 @ 6:46 pm

[…] Dingchak writes on the rapid ‘Amar-Chitra-Katha-ization’ of Indian baby names and if the generic names are becoming rare now. […]

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Comment by d.n.a.

August 14, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

ROFLMAO!

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Comment by Driver

August 14, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

LOL! There was an “A” fever just a few years ago (eg. Adithya, Ashwin, Anuroopa,…)that has now been upgraded to an “AA” fever spreading wildly as well (eg. Aamogh, Aadhav, Aadithya,…).

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Comment by phantom363

August 14, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

“”…preferably quasi-mythological and that is still pronounceable in a call center setting, and, one that ensures a unique mail id on yahoo or gmail without appending a large prime number at the end to distinguish it from others,….””

can i add one more condition to the above? the given name of the future must be phonetically sound and given the increasing global perspective, must sound the same across languages and culture.

re suresh ramesh ganesh… names are a marker of times. in the early 1950s shobas and malinis were fashionable. in the early 1900s sarojini and meenakashi were fashionable. indian communities expatriated to south africa or the west indies have saved these names through timewarp and politics. the recent explosion of international communication, has become the leveller of desi names globewide. nowadays an abhishek could come from the grand old country or guyana or fiji or south africa or britain!!

my own daughter is natasha with a rather chopLangi last name (which is my first name).

also people no longer portray their faith in their names. thiruvengadam may be christian and sasha or steve could be hindu. i have also seen some pure tamil names (eg: ilavarasan) who happen to be muslims. actually combination names are cute: alex pandian or padma lakshmi or natasha rose swati sound great wherever and whenever sounded :)

but i always suspect that the first man who landed on the moon was chosen because of his name. what a better personification of the techno scientific achievements of the anglo saxon tribe thaN ARMSTRONG? cheers :) :)

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Comment by phantom363

August 14, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

.. but the most intriguing name i have ever come across is ‘tatvamasi’. which is sanskrit for ‘that thou art’.

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Trackback by Anonymous

August 15, 2006 @ 5:15 am

Where are the plainer names?…

This is just placeholder content. For full discussion, follow the link….

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Comment by Yadayada

August 15, 2006 @ 8:08 pm

Most of my firends have decided thier kids names from Mahabarata, Ramayana or some epic.

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Comment by Swapna

August 16, 2006 @ 1:01 am

Good one! Everybody wants a name for their kid which nobody has ever heard of before – no other kid should have that name – it just doesn’t make any sense.

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Comment by tgfi

August 16, 2006 @ 3:45 am

loll!!! the name has to be uncommon, cool, pronounceable, and lend itself to foreign languages which do not have a soft T or D. so much pressure.

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Comment by Timepass

August 24, 2006 @ 9:20 pm

I have been bitching about this fact for the past five years, ever since my classmates started having kids. I have a nephew who belongs to the double-A generation (sounds like a battery), Aarav.

There was a Mallu guy I knew named SubhashChandraBose (that was his first name), then there’s the famous physicist Aristotle Socrates, who is actually a Tam. There’s a not-so-famous physicist Victor Suvisesha Muthu, whose name my friends decided should be a physical unit (As in, “The micelle separation in this solution is about 5.5 milliVictorMuthu”)

I used to think these names were weird, but they don’t hold a candle to the ACK-ized double-As (I can’t wait for the double-D’s, hyuk hyuk)

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Comment by Suresh

March 5, 2007 @ 10:19 am

Thank you for doing this. baaah :((

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Comment by Noop

August 28, 2007 @ 3:30 am

Heh…nice read…we went through all this before coming up with Shailee which we thought was American-friendly enough while retaining a distinctive Indian flavour (well North Indian at least). Boy names are tough- Adi/Aditya is **so** overused these days; as are Arya/Aryan/Aryaman/Ayushmaan. Not to mention (ahem) Agastya and the various sages from the Puranas. Nowadays, desperate parents are coming up with inventions of their own, someone I know has named their son Pranvet (growing up in Pittsburgh I don’t know **how** that’s going to be pronounced!)
More names now consigned to the rubbish bin but common in our attendance rosters growing up: Amit, Arvind, Deepak, Rajesh.

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Comment by Vignesh

January 5, 2008 @ 5:16 am

Well I have classmates with the names of Placenta and Aquafina…. and this one Indian family named their son Vrishab… who names their son “male bull”??

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