Saturday, April 01, 2006

Baby Names Humour by Melvin Durai

My wife, Malathi, and I have spent several weeks discussingnames for our baby and we've finally agreed on something: We hate each other's choices.At this rate, giving birth to the baby will be a lot easierthan naming it.

Only one person gives birth (thankgoodness!), whereas, in some families, naming a baby caninvolve as many as 50, with suggestions pouring in fromparents, grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers, andeven the idiot next door. The one who named his sons Laxmanand Taxman. If he has a third son, he's already thought of agood name: Relaxman.

Luckily for us, no one else is suggesting names. But thereare certainly enough names being tossed around. I neverrealized that name-selecting could produce so muchname-calling. I don't know how many times I've had to defendmy honor: "Hey! My name is Melvin. It starts with an 'm' andends with an 'n' but I wish you'd stop confusing it withMORON."

If we don't decide on a name soon, we'll be forced to followthe tradition of some cultures: naming the baby after theloudest sound the mother makes in labor. How else do youthink Oprah got her name? Her mother obviously meant toscream, "Oh pray!"Among my wife's favorite names for girls is Tarangini. Sheconsiders it rather melodious, I consider it just odious.Tarangini. We might as well name the baby Tarantula. Thatsounds a lot better.If your name happens to be Tarangini, please don't get angrywith me. Get angry with your parents. They're the ones whonamed you.Perhaps they weren't thinking straight. I'm not suggestingthey were drinking, but that could explain why the word"gin" appears in your name.

Among my wife's favorite names for boys is Kashyap, a namethat's almost as melodious as Tarangini. I can't helpimagining the teasing he'd get at an American schoolcafeteria: "Hey, Kashyap! Please pass the ketchup." Not tomention the ribbing during running competitions: "Hey,Kashyap! Please catch up!"Malathi has a theory why her "unenlightened" husband can'tappreciate these beautiful names -- he didn't grow upreading literature in Tamil, Sanskrit and Bengali. "Justbecause you didn't learn to appreciate sounds in theselanguages doesn't mean these names aren't beautiful to theears." She makes a good point. Now all she needs is a goodname.She believes that her favorite names may one day becomeuniversal, just as Indian names are gracing westerners suchas Canadian humorist Chandra Clarke and Hollywood actressUma Thurman. Malathi may be right, but I'll be absolutelystunned the day I meet a non-Indian named Tarangini.Of course, I have no right to make fun of names, because myname is not only old-fashioned, it doesn't reflect my richIndian heritage. But it's too late to change my name. I'vebeen a Melvin for so many years, I don't want to suddenlyturn into a Melvinder or Melvinathaman.Malathi has convinced me that it's important to give ourbaby an Indian name. Though she likes some western namessuch as Olivia, she says, "I don't believe it's our role topropagate them." As far as I'm concerned, if we end upnaming our baby Tarangini, we'll be done propagating!

(c) Copyright 2001 Melvin Durai. All Rights Reserved.Melvin Durai is a U.S.-based writer andhumorist. A native of India, he grew up in Zambiaand moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s. Read hisprevious columns at http://www.melvindurai.comFor a free subscription to his columns,send a blank mail to

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