Wednesday, January 25, 2017

'Tis The Age Of Designer Baby Names



Nobody names their kid Neha anymore. Yet, if I were to stand at the Rajiv Metro Chowk station and scream Nehaaaaaaaa, at least 67 women of all shapes and sizes will turn around and come running towards me. Add Mamta, Sanjay, Vineet, Preeti to that list. They are all part of a generation whose parents didn’t break into a sweat while naming their offspring. The ones that fancied themselves as ‘modern’, preferred Silky, Tina, Sunny, Honey, Bunny. The sanskari ones left the onus on the grandparents, who in turn would consult their family pandit, astrological charts and name the unsuspecting baby after their favourite God. So, if you had a Janardana, Bhavamochani, Dayanidhi in your class, you knew who to blame for their lifelong misery.

New age parents are different. Not only do they start reading up books on all the possible diseases their yet to be born baby can get, the mother prefers going on a gluten free, seed only diet to birth a conscientious future citizen of the world. Wiser from their own experience of being part of a flock, the Sameers, Sonias and Vineetas flick through pages and pages of ‘Unusual baby names’. Because their worldview transcends cultural and geographical barriers, Zeus it is for their baby who’s meant to rule the world. Once Zeus Chopra waddles to playschool, he meets Awesome Khare who loves peeing in his pants, much to the chagrin of the school ayah, Baby. Then there is Key-nah, who he is petrified of. The last time he tried to sneak a biscuit from her tiffin box, she knocked two of his milk teeth off. Muffin Malhotra has a constantly running nose that he loves wiping on an unsuspecting shoulder.

Interestingly, this penchant for giving their babies WTF names was once limited to snooty, good for nothing Bengalis. So, it’s not unusual run into a Canopy Chowdhury or Renaissance Roy at the local Durga Pujo and a Missile Dutta who you played ludo with when you were all of 10. Their pet names are even worse. The kind you can blackmail them with to extract state secrets and nuclear codes. So, if a Bongshell in a moment of tenderness confides in you that her parents call her Punchkee, it’s time for you to start looking for a ring.


Not anymore. This obsession for giving strange names is now a worldwide epidemic. Bengalis can yet again claim what Bengal thinks yesterday, the world does today.

A baby’s name is no longer about cute sounding and being easy on the tongue. Hell no. In fact the tougher it is to remember, the better it is. My niece is now 7 years old and I still can’t recall her bhaalo naam (the formal name meant for the school roll). It’s another story the final one was chosen after 47554 rejections and epic battles between grand-parents and parents.

The name selecting business is no longer a mundane job meant to be completed while you are switching channels. It requires careful deliberation and argument worthy of Newshour. It’s like thinking of a label for your designer baby. The kind that carries with it a whiff of class. It should instantly transport you to the world of clipped accents, bistros in Paris and hallowed corridors of Ivy League colleges. Something like Qabir – exotic yet perfectly suited to your multi-lingual, global citizen of the world child who earns in dollars and sips tea from Wedgewood crockery.

Naming follows an interesting hierarchy. While the BMW (Bartan majne waali) prefers Bobby, Pinky, Sonu, her upwardly mobile world-travelled Memsahib prefers Kaira, Shyra or a Shanaya. Meanwhile the celebrity class that needs to stand miles apart from the hoi-polloi thinks of NorthWest, Taimur or Bronx-Mowgli that no cattle class in their un-coked frame of mind will dare come up with.

The millennial city-bred parent abhors being part of the crowd. They equate conformity with boring and dull. Unlike their parents who were content with Beltek TV, Vimal Saris and boating at India Gate, the current set exposed to global cinema, art and trends, thinks big. No one wants their child to be another brick in the wall.

Sorry, Aartis and Amits: your reign is over. It’s time to give way to Kaira and Raisha and Wrohits. But here’s another funny fact. If I were to scream Mishaaa at the local creche, I’m sure at least 6 babies in chic frocks will turn around and drool.

Dear Mommies and Daddies, is it possible that the Divas, Vians and Kians are the new Neha!

But when there are millions parents are engaged in their quest to be unique, how much different can they be? Rather they unwittingly end up being part of the herd.

Didn’t someone wise once say, the more you try to be different, the more you end up being the same!

Maybe it’s time you started thinking extra-terrestrial. Are Aeryn, Kagin already taken?







44 comments:

  1. A baby's name is sort of like a designer label now.
    Not to mention that even before the baby is born or named (officially), parents these days start reserving their social media handles and website addresses :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I had no idea! But then I am always learning.

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  2. I like Quabir. Change one alphabet and viola, it's contemporary and cool.
    This was super fun read.

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  3. I once knew a Pushkin Bannerji. Strange name I thought but that was before I read a book by the author. Nice one, as usual Purba

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    Replies
    1. Usually the parents' favourite character or author's name is bestowed upon the child.

      And thanks, Ritu.

      Delete
  4. What will happen to the babais and babans? I was a Babai and amongst many other babais in my class and in my para and felt proud of it. Duniyar babai ek hao

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    Replies
    1. Time to start a Facebook page by that name - Fans of Babai

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  5. This one reminded me another of your posts - the naming of T :) Parents today are indeed going overboard burdening their children with such weird names. Some names like Kaina and Alaiza really stump me - and there are many of these two in my neighbourhood! And let us not forget that parents of yesteryears and day before yester years (like mine) can come up with such names too :)

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    Replies
    1. You have a phenomenal memory, Zephyr :-)

      Yours is short and sweet.

      Delete
  6. Hi Purba
    There have been a few births in my relatives circle recently and yes naming is a time consuming activity ..... Then u have those folks who follow the advise of numerology pundits and add unnecessary 'a' s or 'u' s....Neha would become Neihaa or Nehau :D

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  7. Kaira is the new Neha for sure. A few parents around me have given this name to their daughters. Many celebrities are picking up names like these from other languages than their mother tongue. I agree with Sid above, these days many parents are reserving their social media handles as well! Good one. You always come up with such amazing topics :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After Taimur set social media on fire, this had to be written.

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  8. Didn't know about Bong penchant for weird names. Have heard a few truly sad Punju names and of course my favorite grouse with the inane names people give their kids today. I am happier with names that have some meanings. I can't believe how parents are indulging in such insanity and it has become an epidemic now. An acquaintance has named her daughter Vyakta. When I heard that name, my jaw just fell out.

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    Replies
    1. I wanted my daughter's name to be short and easy to pronounce and one that doesn't get mauled in other languages.

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  9. L'Oreal and I kid you not, cos apparently she was worth it. I was in Delhi airport once when they were paging "Mr Dollar Singh". There was a couple next to me and the woman said 'when we have a child we will name him Pound kyonki Pound is worth more than a Dollar'. I think she was joking, but who knows. Maybe Euro Patel?

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    Replies
    1. WTF!

      I once taught a Dollar and his brother Rouble :D

      Delete
  10. I had to suffer from the same 'identity crisis', with hundreds of Amits moving around. You may like to see:
    The Name is Amit!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing the link. Will read it soon.

      Delete
  11. We in Kerala had this trend long back. You find all kinds of names. There was one couple who named their three sons Sinish, Dinish and Finish...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA..

      Finish sounds like we are done now.

      Delete
  12. My 4-5 yo nephews and nieces have long names like Dasharathrag, Devangana and Kaashinaath,and their parents insist on calling the full name. I pity the little ones. Hello to the designer baby generation...learning names will be so much fun now! :D

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    Replies
    1. OMG! These names are worthy of a Spelling bee winner.

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  13. Named my daughters Gauri and Gayatri (patting my back with one hand and typing from another)

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  14. I was watching Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on Prime Video. The leading lady was called Alizeh. It made me want to find a girl, fall in love, take her parents permission to propose to her, plan a big wedding, get married, do suhaag raat, make her preggers, spend an anxious nine months, watch the baby pop out from that tiny hole and throw up during the process of delivery, hold my baby in my arms and cry, SO BAD just so I could then name her Alizeh too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or you could adopt a dog and name her Alizeh.

      Delete
  15. You have nailed it, Purba. I fought with my Maker till the bitter end for naming me Uma Shankar Pandey. I shared the moniker with many of my childhood friends' fathers and forefathers.

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  16. The search for new yields 'Eureka' moments even when it comes to names:) A good one like always, Purba.

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  17. BMW (Bartan majne waali) - HAHAHHAHAHAHA !
    Yes naming a baby has become a whole project in itself. Unisex names like Bobby are high in demand I guess. There was a guy called 'Anu' in my engineering class. The teasing he went through for being assumed to be a woman cannot be forgotten.

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    Replies
    1. Not sure why parents do this. Living through school and college with a weird name is like trial by fire.

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  18. I have always admired Bengali bhalo names and gave some meaningful names to my kids.But giving meaningless names just for the sake of originality does not cut ice with me.Through the name,a child gets an idea of what its parents expect from it.

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    1. I just wanted an easy to pronounce name that wouldn't get distorted in any other language :-)

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  19. Enjoyed reading. The other day I heard someone being called Rodoshi; never knew such a name existed in Bengali lexicon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And your first thought is - WTF!

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  20. This is a topic I can so relate to. And you nailed it. My friend's brother recently named their daughter Ikya. (meaning united or unity). It always reminds me of Ikea store. Another celebrity couple in the South named their daughter, Arha. Uff...my cousin last week named their daughter 'Vernika'and another named his boy, Ridith. I told them both flatly that would be called Veronica and the other Ridiculous. uff...we Andhra people can beat you bongs, you know :P

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    Replies
    1. Where were you when I was writing this post! Your collection of names is far weirder than mine :D

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22. When I adopt a baby girl..I'll namer her Naishdha..which means poetry...let her go through the torture of being confused with Naashta *evil grin*

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