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04 May 2007

What is in a name?

On hindsight I can say that the metamorphosis of my name started from my school days.
Till then I was roming around the country side with a moniker of V K Ramaswamy. V stood for my village Vaidyanathapuram, K stood for Krishnamurti and Ramaswamy was my name.
Mind you, my name was Ramaswamy. Kindly note the 'was' part.
Ramaswamy was a difficult name and it didn't take much longer for my name to be shortened to 'Ram'. This was a minor offense and I didn't mind.
In the SSLC certificate (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) the head master of my school wrote my name as Ramaswamy VK and as if to leave no traces of doubt anywhere, wrote a comment 'Initials after the name'
Thus happened the first change to my name. Subtly and suddenly it changed to Ramaswamy VK from VK Ramaswamy with expansion of initials remaining the same.
Honestly I was happy with this change. My original name was the same as that of a comic actor in Tamil movies. My name brought out a silly smile on people's faces as they were reminded of this actor. Now at least I won't have to put up with their snicker.
Whoa! my name is Ramaswamy VK (initials after the name).
Then I joined Durgapur steel plant in West Bengal.
The Bengali's talk with 'Rasa Golla' in their mouth. For them clear diction is impossible. They round up any word they say. It was not long before my name became 'Romashomy'. Later this got truncated to 'Rom'. This was bad, but on the plus side, they did not know the tamilian comic actor.
In Durgapur my name became a quiz question. "What is the opposite of Ramashomy?" answer "Rama didn't see me".
Other than my name sounding like something coming out of a chimney, I did not have any care in the world in Durgapur because I was working in a god forsaken place without any chances of going abroad. Hence I did not have to apply for my Passport.
Then I changed my job and applied for my passport as it were!
The process of applying for passport brings you to the unfamiliar world of 'surnames' and 'family names' and 'given names' and 'first names'. I was at a loss because I did not know where each of these fitted in my name. So I read the instructions to filling the passport application form.
Instructions to filling the passport application form mentioned that "Father's name can be used as surname as in vogue in some parts of the country'. I wrote my first Name as 'Ramaswamy' and the surname as 'Vaidyanathapuram Krishnamurti'.
It was so easy to fill a PAF....
As you can see, it is a longish name. You have to enter the name in the boxes provided in the form, one box per alphabet. My name filled almost all the boxes available out there. I felt very happy. Having paid 20 of the precious doubloons for the passport application form, I felt that I have received full value for money. I felt vindicated.
When you see these boxes what do you think? That the passport department has gone hitech? That they will be using optical scanners to copy the data into the passport directly? That they are planning to do something with the boxes?...
They don't do nothing. For all you know, they may be using these boxes to play ludo.
With my name thus entered, my passport application went to the passport officer. This gentlemen has a team with bad handwriting who are employed to verify the data in the application form and manually transfer (write) it into the passport. Their salary and incentives are based on the number of errors they generate during this data transfer and the number of days they leave their common sense at home.
My passport was assigned to one of the brightest member of the above team. This guy not only had a obnoxious calligraphy but also was the highest paid employee in the team (lot of incentives you see). The saying 'Common sense is uncommon' was coined with him in mind I think. He sliced and diced my name to his heart content.
When transferring my name to my passport, he started with my family name. After writing Vaidyanathapuram Krishna, he found that there was no more space in the first line. Being a persevering guy, he continued merrily into the next line (like some dot matrix printer or something) showing 'given names' and entered 'Murti Ramaswamy' in that row.
I am sure that after completing the above entries, he would have expressed a smile of satisfaction for a job well done!
Now, according to my passport, my surname reads 'Vaidyanathapuram Krishna' and given name reads 'Murti Ramaswamy' (As it should be because that is how he entered it)
This was not an issue when I applied for Chinese or Bangladeshi visa. However, now I am applying my UK Visa and entering all my details in the Visa application form online.
The application printout says:
Applicant's name: Murti Ramaswamy Vaidyanathapuram Krishna.
Who is this guy? I don't know him.
Recently I am getting mails addressed to Mr.Vaidyanathapuram Krishna. Earlier I used to rave and rant. Now I have stopped. (raving and ranting)
From being called 'Ram', these days I am kind of getting used to being addressed as 'Krishna'.
I stand as a testimony to the hindu religious belief that Ram and Krishna are one and the same.

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