Hindu marriage rituals conclude with the `Bidaai’ ceremony, in which the bride, as she leaves her parent’s house, tosses behind her shoulder, handfuls of grain (rice, mostly). This is meant to symbolise her `returning’ all the `ANN’ (grain) that she has partaken of in a household where she was basically merely a guest. My daughter, never much of a `rice person’, wondered if, in her case, it wouldn’t be more appropriate for her to toss legs of tandoori chicken instead!
Another appendage that newly married girls are expected to toss or leave behind them is their family name/last name. My generation did it without a murmur, but the present lot seems totally reluctant to let go. How will my facebook friends recognise me with the new name, is the refrain most commonly heard. I mean SERIOUSLY? The compromise, if one can call it that, is that most asinine of concoctions – the hyphenated last name! Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit-Nene! Heaven and angels of mercy protect us!!
But what can you say to a generation of feminists where Angelina Jolie insists she is an ACTOR, not an ACTRESS! Really?? And what of the scores of salivating hulks gleefully getting off on clips from `The Original Sin’ who will swear to the contrary?? But let’s leave that for another day..
Last names, family names, surnames, call them what you will, have an interesting diversity. Take the case of Pakistani cricketers. Apparently, the first name of the father becomes the last name of the son. Consider. Nazar Mohamed’s son was Mudassar Nazar, Jehangir Khan’s son was Majid Jehangir. Remember the `Seamless Pakistani’ game suggested by Shashi Tharoor, which consists of seeing how many Pakistani cricketers' names one can string together so that the surname of one becomes the next player's first name, and so on, till you run out of possibilities. Tharoor came up with 11: Saqlain Mushtaq Mohammad Wasim Akram Raza Hasan Iqbal Qasim Umar Akmal.
Col Qurban Muhammed’s daughter is Aasia Qurban, who is married to Zafar Mahmood Nadeem. While Aasia retains her last name of Qurban (as do all her 4 sisters!), her kids are Haider Zafar and Lamia Zafar.
Samina’s case is even more interesting. The daughter of Air Cde Rais Rafi, she married Rizwanullah Khan, and became Samina Rizwan – now while her sons are Taimur Khan and Bilal Khan, her daughters are Andaleeb Rizwan and Sabine Rizwan!
South Indians, of course, are a law onto themselves. My good friend Joseph Mathew’s son is Mathew Joseph, and his grandson will again revert to Joseph Mathew! Shyam and Satish are brothers, with Katathil and Rajeeva being their middle/last names. Now Shyam calls himself KR Shyam, whereas Satish calls himself S Rajeeva! The problem doesn’t end there – Shyam’s daughter is Sowmya Katathil, whereas Satish’s daughter is Sandhya Satish! Apparently, one can take one’s pick from your dad’s first name to his middle name to the name of your ancestral village! A true blue Keralite of course will have his entire postal address as part of his name!
In Maharashtra, ones father’s first name automatically becomes ones middle name – hence you have Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, Sunil Manohar Gavaskar and, since I was born and bred in this great Maratha state, Harish Bararsilal Puri! My kids, to their everlasting chagrin, will always be Puja Harish Puri and Siddharth Harish Puri. Of small mercy is the fact that they're not in Sri Lanka, where a certain left arm seamer goes by the name of Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas!
Bongs, being Bongs, will spell Basu as B-A-S-U, but pronounce it as BOSHU! For them, Bandopadhyay equals Bannerjee, Chattopadhyay equals Chatterjee and Mukhopadhyay equals – you guessed it – Mukherjee! But since these guys have gifted mankind the most heavenly of sweets in Mishti Doi and Nulen gur, I have long since forgiven them ALL their sins, the latest of which goes by the name of Mamata Banerjee (or is it Bandopadhyay?).
A rose by any other name, did you say, Shakespeare sahib??