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.