Excuse me, Mr. Kandhasamy!

I always wanted a guy with a fancy last name. Something exotic and unpronouncable. Or at least, fashionable. But having fallen in love (or thinking that I had), I decided to toss that out onto the mounting heap of other unmet expectations. Now judge me all you want, but if you’ve never had a last name (a REAL last name), the whole idea of having your name affixed to a fancier one, is just bloody fascinating.

I was christened Judy Pavithra Balan (I mean, just WHAT were my parents thinking!?). I grew up hating it. First of all, because Balan is NOT a last name. It’s my dad’s first name! It’s a curious little Tamilian tradition to use your dad/husband’s first name as your last! Those who didn’t wish to put themselves through this farce, took initials. And this again, could be the dad’s first, middle or (nonexistent) last name. So yeah, I got dad’s middle name as my last and my bro took dad’s first name as an initial.

My sibling and I, do not share last names. True story.

I have to say it in here, that an aunt of mine did something ultra novel back in her days. As tradition would have it, she came with a long, hideous last (dad’s first) name. All her classmates were Anglo-Indians which meant last names such as Greenwood, D’cruz, Cunnigham, Fernandez etc. One day, the most dreaded topic of last names came up and everyone wanted to know each other’s names. My aunt whose full name (name changed ’cause I don’t think she’ll be sportive about me telling this story) was Christina Preethi Adaikalaswamy, quickly said she was just C. Preethi. And to this day, it’s how she signs her name.

Judy Pavithra. The delightful combination of East and West…NOT! This is fairly commonplace among Christian families down south – combining a western sounding name with an Indian one. In my case, Sanskrit. The argument is to get one to identify with both his/her religious as well as cultural roots. I was Judy in school and several distorted (supposedly endearing) versions of Pavithra, at home and among relatives.

Now you see why I was a confused, angsty teenager who learnt carnatic music every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, rapped Snow’s ‘Informer’ better than anyone I knew at the time, did my salangai puja in Bharathanatiyam (hideous, hideous video that is still being used to blackmail me) in four months, and wore my hair really short (mushroom cut!), skull ear rings and Anthrax t-shirts on outings with the family. Oh I forgot. I also played Dr. Zhivago and Fur Elise on my Victorian piano on Thursdays.

Judy. Judy Garland. Judy Blume. ‘Judy’s got the lips I love to kiss.’ Could it BE any more 70s /80s?! In all fairness, I WAS born in the 8os. But hell. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you picture a Judy? Really, close your eyes. Try not to think of the sassy me that you see in the photograph. Yeah. I see a skinny, old, blond-haired woman in a pink dress with white polka dots. Or even worse, same woman in decent clothes with fishnet stockings underneath. No wait. She exists! Judy Geller – Monica and Ross’ mom. Ugh.
My friend M, had pictured me to be black as a raven, with frizzy hair, red lipstick and a mini-skirt, when my ex-boss had first mentioned me to her. You can imagine HOW PLEASANTLY surprised she was when she finally met me 😛 But then, when I asked her later what name would actually be appropriate for me, she said ‘Maggie’ without blinking. Errr.

Phew. So anyway, I had finally made my peace with Judy Balan, when I met my ex-husband. He was half Goan and half Manglorean. And his last name? Prabhu! Can you believe my luck? Goans and Mangloreans have some of the coolest last names in India, and here I was walking away with the ‘ most obnoxious full name’ title all over again. And I really don’t know what I was thinking, but for a while I called myself Judy Balan – Prabhu (with hyphen and everything). Maybe it sounded like Angelina Jolie – Pitt to me 😛 The things I do when I’m in love!

So now, it’s back to Judy Balan again. It’s even grown on my audience. What with my natural raw talent, magnetism and scintillating wit, it’s only understandable. BUT it hasn’t grown on ME. So yes, I’m looking for a cool, new last name again. Forgot to mention this in my ‘Letter to ‘the One’ post. I particularly like names that end with a ‘ski’ or ‘sky’. Think Shabatsky (Robin Shabatsky). Judy Shabatski. How awesome does THAT sound eh? Or anything else that ends with those letters. Except of course, Lewinski 😛 And yes, I am very open minded and will consider other names as well. If the last name is uber cool, I might even decide to make Judy an initial, lose Pavithra for something else (something in R) and retain the last name- J.R.Shabatski.

J.K Rowling. J.R.R Tolkien. In case you missed my heavy drift.

5 thoughts on “Excuse me, Mr. Kandhasamy!”

  1. Wow! Bharathi you’re right! Absolutely fantastic writing. You should try writing professionally.. if you don’t already. Now I better be careful about my syntax 🙂

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