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The deal with south Indian names

Every time I have to fill up my surname in an application form, I feel that I’m cheating myself.Why? Because I’m south Indian and we (a majority of us anyway) do not use surnames.South Indians have this concept of using an ‘initial’ wherein we place alphabet(s) before our names. The alphabet can stand for different things depending on the state where you are from. For Malayalees  it’s their house name (‘Tharavadu’), for Tamilians  it’s their father’s name and for the folks from Andhra, I think it is the name of the place where they are from.

Being the Chennai raised  fraud mallu that I am, I have my dad’s name as my initial. The story goes that the initial was originally my house name but the  primary school in Chennai would not admit me unless I had it changed the Tamil way.

Coming back to application forms, now that we had to compulsorily fill the surname column, we chose the easy way out-we simply expanded our initial and made it our surname (don’t pretend you did not do this; I know what is in your passport!) So essentially, my dad’s first name is my last name.How much more confusing can it get? Apparently a lot more because some of my good friends have 4 initials and I have dared not to ask them for their expansions.If you are from the north (read north/east/west), you conveniently used your caste or clan name as your surname.Pity us southies who preferred to remain anti-racial 🙂 If you see a south Indian using his caste (nair/naidu/iyer etc) as his last name, be rest assured that the person was not raised in the south.

I strongly advocate that there be only one column for the name field and I be allowed to fill in whatever I please  (I mean whatever- GR44,The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Ravi_drop_tables from*_shankar…you get the whiff ). If my name is Ravishankar N. , I want to fill it EXACTLY that way without having to explain to anybody what the initial stands for.Screw your database software if it does not accept null values for surnames!

P.S: In case you were wondering, GR44 is the robot played by Van Damme in Universal Soldier.

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  1. January 8, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Good post venting out your frustrations. Coming to the south Indians not using their clan in their names, I guess you missed out little info on Andhra people. Lot of people have it in their names, e.g. Reddy, Naidu, Sarma, Sastry, Raju, etc. And the whole concept of multiple names in application forms, I think it was adopted from the West where everybody has First, Middle and Last names. And some people have pretty long names there too, so I guess this problem is almost everywhere.
    And finally, just curious, what was the application form that stirred you up so much?

  2. itisravi
    January 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

    @rakesh:It’s not about the length as much as it is about mandatorily filling up different sections of the name..Anyway,it all started in 2002 when I had to fill my passport application.

  3. vikram
    January 9, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    It is surprising that a tamil school wud insist u follow tamil traditions in ur naming or else ban u from school ?? …common….disgusting dude

  4. itisravi
    January 9, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    @vikram: It wasn’t exactly a Tamil school.You wouldn’t believe me, another school would not admit wards who’s parents did not own a car!I’m not making this up!

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