Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Identity crisis

What’s in a name said the old Bard feller. Well, if he had to change names - he might have sung a different tune.

I find myself suffering from writers’ cramp every time I write my name these days. The original name pretty much covered seventy percent of the alphabet – the addition of one more name causes a bit of a glut.

It all started when I got married. I have had the old handle for darn too long to willingly contemplate parting with it (its not even women’s lib or anything militantly feministic – just sheer familiarity.)

However, the materfamilias started their collective guilt-tripping – “HOW can you not take their name? They will get offended/hurt/ostracized!”/ “It will be a problem on your passport you know – your marital status will say married but will not reflect in your name” /”What will you do when you have kids – they will have problems with admissions” and much else in the same vein
(Incidentally the in-laws and outlaws have discreetly forborne to have ANY opinion on this.)

I countered with a - I have worked far too long. I have a reputation (sic!) in the industry – do you expect me to throw all that away and go back to being a fresher? Besides, all my official documents are all on the old name. And I am damned if I can remember one more signature (as it is I barely recall the old one).

So we settled on hyphenation. And therein starts the problem.

No one seems to want to use both the surnames. Most people chose whichever they want to depending on temperament and upbringing.

At work, my boss who is a disgruntled ex-advertising-feller-in-a-strange-alien-workplace (like me) usually uses my first surname. The Human resource female (who seems to have made it her life’s mission to remind me of my marital status – she comes wearing a wig of sindoor and has her wedding snaps as a screen saver) always uses the latter (using a prefix ‘Mrs” in all official communication – which incidentally annoys the shit out of me).The rest use one or the other or both or none (“oi ..you there..c’mere”)

My official email id uses the earlier name. My business cards use both. My appointment letter uses the new one.

In Bombay I use the first name. In Pune (depending on who is within earshot) I use the other.

For the purpose of piety (temples) I use the latter (Actually I use only my first name and someone else adds the suffix) and for the profane (shopping!) I use the former.

This whole double identity thing is beginning to muddle my brains a little. I catch myself wondering what name to use when people ask for it these days - occasionally doing a mental inky-pinky-ponky to chose. I have tried using both – but usually by the time I am half way through the first name people lose interest in what I am saying. The other day I actually forgot both the names and stood there blankly for a few minutes. Then I had the happy thought of offering my christened name and sacrificing both the last names. I have toyed with the idea of converting myself into a south Indian and just using the initials (or better still abandon both the names and use the town)


The other day, after ranting on this for fifteen minutes on this I look expectantly at the hero. He grins at me and asks – “I forgot to ask you – what do you use as your middle name?”

Maybe ill just call myself Oi.

14 comments:

Ditty said...

I can relate. I can relate. Apart from sharing our huppy budday, we also share, what I call, the curse of the long surname! *sigh* And you decided to hyphenate? Wouldn't it be easier to just take on The Husband's last name? It is shorter! :)

Oi is a good enough name, though! :) Exotic and all also it is!

Rohini said...

Hmmm... I had the same issues with changing my name. What kept me from doing ti, was the additional fact that my husband is from a different religion and since I was not converting, it didn't make sens to take on his very Catholic surname...

Honestly, it's not been very hard. We have managed to get a birth certificate, passport and playschool admission for our son without much issue - only extra work is that we often have to show our marriage certificate for all these things, which we could have got away without doing had we shared the same surname...

mar00ned said...
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Morpheus said...

you were born and given a name, you respond to it, you remember it, others know it..so keep it. We have to change this..a man does not and would not want to change his name after marriage, so why should we. agree with not wanting to start as a fresher. Its ok..you dont have to take his name..and dont succumb to Oi..it aint better than your original one i am sure!!

mjc said...
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Mo said...

I have a long surname too, and I pretty much hated it since I have to spell it out every single time. And yet, I decided to stick to my maiden name. Feminist issues aside, I feel it's far too complicated to change it, and from the looks of it, even more complicated to hyphenate.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Ditty - long FIRST and LAST name - too much of a good thing eh.

Rohini - good to hear that. Actually I know quite a few people who have not changed the names and seem to be managing just fine. Guess one doesnt go around asking them for problems they face

morpheus - cant succumb to changing for simple reason of signatures. thought of new signature is daunting to say the least

Cynic in Wonderland said...

mo - you could say that again!sigh.

Australopithecus said...

Oi and psst seem to be very common names..why do you think that is.please write report about prevalant social conditions and such that lead people to adopt names as such...

ok one vodka too many.

but Oi is good.

Artful Badger said...

i do not have a hyphenated surname. i have a long middle name though which i initially just converted into an initial, and finally dropped when i began to find out that different documents had different versions of my name and i had to prove they were one and the same.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

path of least resistence austro ..half the people call each other oi or psst anyways.

artful badger- i think indians get saddled with far too many names. sigh. i mean john smith ..so much simpler

Roop Rai said...

hilarious read. i've settled on my 'former' name. my short 'rai' is forever better than the mile long compilation of alphabets that husband calls his surname.

Alankrita said...

I kept mine too, Alankrita Pandey, despite liking the Vedantam a tad too much.. the mere thought of having a mile long signature( if you are called Alankrita, you know how that goes when the clerks politely hold up the line as you finish signing your name ) was mortifying. That said, I am married to K, have a certi to prove it too( :D) why need the whole universe be appraised of the fact, when all that has really changed in my life are my private arrangements? And surprisingly no one said anything, probably because they know I hear rather selectively.

Trauma Queen said...

read the poem 'maiden name' by Philip Larkin