Saturday, March 19, 2011

What's in a name?

Here's a sad little tale from my life for you today.

When I was born, my parents named me Teena Elizabeth.

Contention: What kind of a spelling is Teena?!!!

Response (as given by my free thinking father.) "Read aloud Tina and Teena, the way it is spelt. How is it pronounced and how should it be spelt? Spelling the name that should be pronounced Teena as Tina is exactly what is wrong with the English language and I will be neither party nor a victim to the crime." 

Consequence: My name is constantly misspelt, and when it is not, people think it is cute to comment on how strange the spelling of my name is.

When I was 3, right before joining school, my parents decided to change my name to Elizabeth Teena, Elizabeth being my grandmother's name

Contention 1: I want my name as my name! I don't want my grandmother's name as my name.

Contention 2: Elizabeth Teena just sounds plain weird.

Response (as give by my fore thinking mother.): "After you complete your schooling and you go on to become a doctor, during the practical sessions in your final year, your turn is chosen alphabetically, and there are advantages to being in the beginning."

I was three when this happened.

It's just plain weird to think that my mother came up with this. My mother is the most unambitious person for herself and absolutely chilled out about my brother and me. To conceive that she actually thought enough about my future to (wrongly) assume that I would want to be a doctor or be in any way affected by this ridiculous nomenclature is beyond absurd. Maybe my mother was on weed.

Consequence 1: I am constantly asked what my name is, because the first name is your name and the second name is always the grandmother's name, and it's strange to think that a grandmother in Kerala would be called Teena.

Consequence 2: I have a name that just sounds plain weird.

All my life, I have been called Teena. But recently, I decided to simplify my own life and stopped correcting the new people I met who assumed that my first name was indeed my name. But now I have new friends who meet old friends who wonder who Teena is and vice versa. It's kinda hilarious. It's like I have two identities - Elizabeth is the strong, silent, Godly one and Teena is the flake.

I'm naming my daughter Rachel. No middle name, no last name. Or I'll just let her choose her own name when she is 3. It's all about accountability at the end of it.


  1. ...and i was wondering why you havent written about this already..I know the number of times i have called you Liz and people have looked at me strangely asking who is that? funny you haven't mentioned the origins of the names though..yours and ashok's..

  2. Ha ha. I don't think that's meant for public consumption. Plus if my parents were to ever read this blog, they would be crushed to hear me say that!


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