For several years, many thought the ‘Sri’ in my name was a prefix – as in Sri (xyz), or Sri (zyx). Many of them still do. And every time somebody wrote my name, I had to point out, ‘Err..the ‘Sri’ is a part of the full name, please’. It got to me after a while, and I became immune to it. So, in non-government organizations and other places where it didn’t really matter, I just let the guys knock themselves out prefixing the ‘Sri’. Big deal…
You see, though my name is primarily a Sanskrit word, fairly pronounceable, or should I say, ‘should be fairly pronounceable’ by Indians, I realized a particular letter in the name was just as hard for my north indian friends (and classmates when I was in school) to pronounce (There are two ways of phonetically saying ‘na’. It’s there in the hindi script as well, but well – many of them don’t use the other one colloquially, so..we were back to square one). One blogger (many years ago though) even thought I was a woman! Said the name sounded like a woman's! (I still haven't been able to figure this one out)
So they’d take off a vowel before ‘n’, flatten the 'na' some more and suit themselves. Even that was OK with me.
But problems cropped up again when I joined the software industry and had to work with my American and European counterparts. And now, the very ‘prefix’ which used to get my goat, became a balm of relief. 99.99999999% of these guys couldn’t get even a part of my name right, forget the entire thing. So, this time round, Mr. prefix came to my rescue. ‘Uh, you could just call me ‘Sri’’, I’d suggest, and they would go ‘Oh. Sri! Yes, that works, that’s cool. Hi, Sri,’ they’d say over and over again (Shwee, Shwee that is) as if they’d got hold of their PT master’s whistle. And I’d go ‘Ah, what the hell..’ Big deal…again.
And over a period of time, the shortened ‘Sri’ became quite the norm – my mom, sister, wife and many close friends call me that. And yeah, even you guys know me by that name. It’s probably just as well, because it’s easier to say Sri than try and roll the entire name off your tongue. No complaints.
But when I was small, I’d frown at my own name. ‘Why couldn’t my parents have given me an easier name which could be easily pronounced?’ This one was so much drama. But then as I grew up I realized, though a little difficult to pronounce by a few people, this was a name that was my identity. And my parents had some (my mother mostly) emotion attached to it. Of course, in southern India, this name is not a big deal at all. I know many folks having it. But in a global platform, when people have to pronounce my name, and fumble, all I do is spring up Mr. ‘Prefix’.
After all, what’s in a name, right?