I wish when my grandson Sidharth grows up he shouldn’t work for a call centre in Bangalore, where, I hear, anyone with a perfectly sensible Asian name has it distorted into something popsy and western. I dread the prospects of Sidharth being truncated to ‘Sid’, ‘Sidney’ or ‘Saddy’. I am told the tabloid version of Bollywood actor Madhavan is ‘Maddy’. Founder of the Mysore-based software company SPI is Sid Mookerji, though I suspect they ‘namkaran’-ed him as Sidharth.
My own name got distorted, during s stay in England in the sixties; Krishnan became ‘Kris’. There was this elderly lady who had problem rolling her tongue to say ‘zh’ (for ‘sh’) and so, settled on calling me ‘Kristian’. Mercifully, such mutilation didn’t survive my UK stint. But then, a Wodehouse-mad neighbour of mine in Coonoor insists on addressing me ‘Geeves’.Another Coonoor friend, Ashika, couldn’t figure out why my grandson is named after a hotel. Sidharth is a hotel in Mysore; and she knows of no other Sidharth. Ashika, aged three, goes to pre-school.