Life Wisdom

What is your Good Name?

A take on the basics of a simple communication line, when we meet someone.

We Indians have this strange way of language applications. The other day, I overheard my son’s friend telling him that he has got a gift from his ‘Big Father’..and he was not referring God . My son wondered, why he was calling his dad as ‘Big Father’ because he was a short fellow. It was later that we understood that specifically in Northern India and some parts in Southern coast of India, people use this terminology to refer Dad’s elder brother.

 The same is true with.. “What is your good name?”..a literal English translation of “Apka Shubh Naam?”(in Hindi language) . ‘Shubh’ in actual translation means auspicious, lucky, favourable, happy, fortunate etc. But when we apply the same to a basic communication starter for any English communication, you will find people unknowingly using it with ease. You will not find other English-speaking nations using it.

The beauty is that the Indian receiver actually replies to the question with his or her name. Have you ever overheard or felt offended where you have told them, that good, bad or ugly you only have one name?. We as Indians are smart, where we have not made it difficult by adopting the wrong mix- We do not ask, what is your auspicious name or what is your pious name?…kept it simple with the word ‘good’.

Whether it is auspicious or favorable or lucky or whatever, you have to live with that name. Yes, the Government and law of the land allows you to change your good name to a better name by a Gazette notification supported with an advertisement in 2 newspapers. I had a classmate of mine, in the B School who when I met him after few years had changed his name from a typical Gujarati name to something which he felt was more-trendy. All his youth he was burdened under the weight of his name gifted by his parents and wanted to desperately change to something which was as old as North Star, but trendy. If you do a dip-stick survey, at least 7/10 people do not like their names.  Sometimes, when they start it is all good, but later if there is an undergarment or some product with the same brand name, they become the torch bearer of all such jokes(Rupa undergarments). I have also found people with the name when you translate in English means ‘Entertainment’. Entertainment is good, right??

Then we have those Numerologists, who will add few letters or remove some so that your good name becomes best name and charge you a fortune for that. Bollywood movies follow it with their numerology consultants who would add few K’s to start with or maybe they will have the same phonetics but the spelling will be changed to attract a certain energy element.

Sometimes when you want to start a new business and the Registrar of Companies will tell you that the name has already been taken, and not available, you start playing with the letters. Then you have the trademarks and copyright attorneys who will tell you that you cannot get a name which is generic and then you start playing with the ‘good name’.

So as Indians whether it is a right or wrong way of communication, the basic tenets of communication specify that people involved in the communication process understand it. (Samajh mein aaya nah?). It, actually doesn’t matter if it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Till then, though people will tell you that it is wrong, keep asking “What is your good name?”.

Oh!, today my son has discovered that his friend has a ‘Big Mother’ too!.

(any references indicated in this article are for pure humor and information. Any references made are pure coincidence and do not intend to hurt any sections of the society–religious or cultural sentiments)

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About Ramdas Shenoyy

Ramdas Shenoyy is a senior marketing and communications professional with over two decades of working across industries and domains.
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