Nick Names

Feathered dinosaur nicknamed

Image by Marjorie Lipan via Flickr

This is a personal one. If you are one of those kind who doesn’t like “nicknames” please skip this post.

But if you had liked my posts “Names: The long and short of it” and “The maiden name, please”, chances are that you may like it.

Throughout my life, I have lived in a culture of nick names. Nick names are of various types.

Let me share a few examples that I remember.

Basically Nicknames came out of Convenience. When there are three Govindans in the same street, it is natural to have a pre-fix as “maadi veetu” Govindan(Govindan who lives in a floor above), “kodi veetu” Govindan(Govindan who lives in the corner house), “edhir veetu” Govindan(Govindan who lives in the opposite house) etc…

Same way when your friends circle has 7 people with the name “Kannan”, you are forced to distinguish them with nicknames like “lottai” kannan(left-handed kannan), flute kannan(kannan who plays the instrument flute), kadathal kannan(kannan who was kidnapped once) etc…

I can go on and on with names like Paatu suchi(carnatic vocal singer), haritha suchi(he worked in that company), keeper rengan(he was a wicket-keeper).

The nick-name also came because of someone’s actions. When we were with a circle of friends, they do something and people tease  on that occassion and the name gets stuck. Someone who was playing cricket, chased a ball and came back empty-handed and said, “pandhu booduthu” (the ball is gone and missing) and he was nick-named booduthu(I still dont remember his original name).

We used to play street cricket and there used to be live-commentary(those guys like me who were not selected resorted to such participation).  One end could be a “Kapil” end and another could be a “Botham” end. That became a “kapil” end because the guy who lived in that house from where bowling happened was a Kapil fan and so on. I shall write about street cricket that we experienced and the politics of it in another post some day.

It was a general practice that the teacher asked a student one question and if he answered it right, the next question will go to someone else. Once one of our teachers asked a classmate 10 questions continuously and he answered all of them right. The teacher said, “See how he answers like a “Mandiri”(like a minister in the court of a king). He became “mandiri” for us. Till date we refer him by that name. In fact I met him a few years ago and called out and he was happy that I remembered him that way.

A friend I remembered by name Ganpa(dont remember the reason now). I saw him recently in my home-town and since I didnt remember his name, I called out to him in my enthusiasm as “Ganpaaaa……”. I could tell later that he didnt like it a bit.

Recently I met a friend whose name was “muktha” and I was very reluctant to take a chance but still called out and immediately asked his name and asked him to excuse that I remembered him only as “muktha”. Last week in the vegetable market I met a friend nicknamed “samsa”(derived from samosa which he used to like) but remembered his original full name and didnt take chances.

Someone instead of saying “my father’s office” said “appa-aabis”(tanglish) and became appabis. Someone came from an area called “Mambazhasalai” and was called the same. Someone’s father had a brand called “modern” and his name was that. Some guys from the transport services called “TST” and “PST” were called so appropriately.

There used to be some community prefixes of nick-names. The beauty was those guys did not belong to those communities. Who said nicknames were always rational? And some poor guys had derogatory prefixes also and suffered some ridicule. But luckily my batch did not have many of them.

One thing I clearly remember is that all those guys did not mind being called that and it was called out with a lot of affection and none thought negative about the whole thing. Many a times the names were dropped after a few weeks if the guy who was named did not take it well. But again, people waited for another occasion and renamed them. It was considered desirable by all.

Finally, I had a personal friend called “lilly” and we were always seen together. We had a nick-name diplococci.

As I wrote this, I remember many more and makes me nostalgic. I remember all the faces and a nickname attached to most of them. Nickname is the reason why I remember most of them even today.

What about you? Do you remember any? Was it a practice with your circle?

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