Monday, January 10, 2005


The name's Iyer. Therulundur Chandrasekar Arvind Iyer.

I just found out that's my official name. Or would have been had I been born 50 years earlier. For the uninitiated, the format is (Hometown Father You Iyer) for Iyers. For all the computer geeks, its [ Name -> Hometown Father You Iyer ], where all except Iyer are variables and Iyer is a terminal. (I Love TOC.)

So I would have been TCA Iyer. Or TCAI for short. Somehow, it just doesn't have the convenience, punch or zing AC has... Some people may have tired of four sylables (tee-see-ae-eye) and switched to two (tuck-eye), but that sounds like something you'd find sold at a railway station. In fact, it kinda sounds like a swear word. Plus, it doesn't lend itself that easily to puns like 'AC is cool' or 'AC is turned on!' And puns are a very very important part of my life.

And there are all the administrative hassles - I wouldn't be able to fill in my full name on any form, and the ID page of my passport would be crammed with letters. Non-Tamils might keep calling me Iyer as has happened to a friend of mine. Plus, there's far more scope for someone to mangle the spelling of my name. Things are bad enough as it is. Here are the top 3 most hated spellings:

#3. Arwind - yes, this has actually happened. Only once, thankfully. Just think of all the puns possible, starting with 'breaking wind'...
#2. Aravind - used 80% of the time when the person writing my name is Tamil. If you want me to punch you on the nose, you know what to do.
#1. Aravinth - first used by a mallu receptionist at a mallu doctor's place. Very very very irritating. Makes me feel highly suicidal or homicidal, depending on the situation.

My surname is usually spelt wrong too. Although my dad's name is Chandrasekar, my last name is spelt Chandrasekhar. Note the extra 'h'. (Or else...) That's the result of a careless passport officer slacking on his job. I got my passport when I was just a few months old, and now the spelling has stuck for life.

Coming back to TCAI, I really like the name although it's incredibly inconvenient. There's a certain style to it, a certain boom-pi-sa-sa (I make sounds when I run out of words). There's a certain something to it that makes it sound very distinguished, and I don't mean that in a casteist way at all. It's a cool name. In some way, deep down, it makes me feel more Tamil.

But stick to calling me AC.

(This blogpost is dedicated to Archana, who knows more than anyone else my love for my Tamil roots.)

No comments: