So Aditya Chopra and Rani Mukherjee named their daughter Adira, which I think, has a nice sound to it. This piece of news in the morning papers got me thinking on the importance of names, especially in India. People spend considerable time these days on choosing names for their children, a lot of thought and foresight goes into it, and in some cultures there is a whole ceremony attached to the naming of a child. Very cool! And before you know it, you also have a nickname. Yes, we love being cute, don’t we?
Like there’s my name, which anyone would know is impossible to shorten, because then it wouldn’t even be a name, just a sound! But even apart from the endearing names (sigh!) that the elders bestowed on me – Tinu, Chotu, Chintu, Chakdi, etc. – some of my friends too managed to find a nick. My school gang call me Nits. To be honest, it is difficult to even pronounce that, but there it is. One of my ex bosses who has an Australian accent also preferred ‘Nitzzz’ to sweet and simple Niti. Some of my college gang went one step ahead to turn ‘Nits’ into ‘Nuts’, and let’s not go into the reasoning behind it. They weren’t happy with it for too long, so one of them decided to desi-fy it: nuts = peanuts = mungfali. And that stuck with me. One of the others who was a fan of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers like me, thought I was very much like Ms. Potts and I will never tell you the name that was derived from it for me.
There are so many of us who are Cheekus and Babloos and Pinkies and Gudiyas when we are kids, and then those become our names, and the ones on the birth certificate are forgotten. Sometimes people stare at us in surprise when we tell them hesitantly, “Erm…auntyj… actually my name is Nisha, ‘Nonu’ toh sirf pyaar se bulaate hai”, and Auntyji, after recovering from the initial shock goes, “Arey beta, sabko pyaar se hi bulana chahiye”. Beat that. Someone very dear to me is Babloo, and then everyone has their own variation for it. Bubbly and Bubbles. The cousin who wants to keep it cool with ‘Bob’. Cute.
My best friend has a very pretty name. But I swear to God, I don’t remember why I call her Bums or Bumsie, but I am sure there is a very valid story behind it. And then another friend, whose name was shortened to ‘Aloo’, but went on to be called ‘Bataku’ and ‘Bataki’ and even ‘Bataks’, which sounds like… never mind 😛
Believe it or not, there are some who prefer the nicknames to the originals. Like Suyash Sharad Pandey became Chunky Pandey. Such stuff happens, don’t ask why. Maybe Shahrukh Khan has an affectionate nickname amongst his close ones, but imagine if the leading lady in one of his movies, where he is named ‘Raj’, calls him ‘Rajoo’ while romancing him! That he did a ‘Raju ban gaya gentleman’, is a different matter altogether. I am quite certain Mogambo’s mum didn’t name him that either, and must have turned in her grave every time the guy went ‘Mogambo Khush Hua’! But look at the effect the name had, it was such an integral part of the film’s USP. And I can never forget the scene in Hum Tum when Kirron Kher asks Rishi Kapoor to call her Bobby as it is her ‘pat name’ (Kirron Kher’s acting brilliance and my love for her deserves a separate blog).
So the next time you’re looking up names, would be a good idea to also think of potential nicknames. You never know which one you might like better 😉