When I was given a named, I assume a fair amount of thinking went into it. My mum wanted to create a name that wasn’t common, sounded nice and had a good meaning. She derived my name from the word temple. I am sure she secretly hoped that name would have some positive effect on my character too. With a name like that; I would hopefully turn out to be a calm and spiritual person. My name was decided upon long before I made an appearance. What amma didn’t realise when she named me, was a) that soon a lady with the same name will appear on national television and make the name as common as potatoes! and b)a name like that can be subjected to immense twisting and turning to provide new and exciting versions of the plain and simple one. My parents generally stuck to calling me M, but everyone else in the family generated their own version. A shortened version was by far the most favoured . It was also a version that I had the least amount of resistance to. My then unmarried aunt’s friends came up with “mandi” and “sabzi mandi“, both of which I detested. My aunt came up with a slightly modified version of “mandi”, which was tolerable. (A few years later, one of my roommates, Bakshi, too came up with the same name). . My friend Shweta’s brother insisted on calling me “maindhak” every time I called their residence. I didn’t particularly like it, but I learnt to live with it. There were so many of these crazy versions that I don’t even remember all of them! With passing time, people have thankfully forgotten all those strange names; and now for most people its back to my good old name. You cannot imagine how grateful I am for that! But ever since I started working here, I have been given yet another new name. This time it’s “Madam”. In this newly turned MNC, everyone who is a woman (and FYI there are very few of us here) and sits in the office is called madam, irrespective of her age and preference. I hate being called “madam”. I have a name and it’s been given to me for a reason.Its not that I haven’t told people that I would like to be called by my first name, it’s just that they are all so used to this madam business that they don’t listen. I have had 50 year old man addressing me as madam and that’s just down right embarrassing!! I am a very first- name-basis kinda person, but what do you do when a 50 year old calls you madam? You are left with no alternative but to call him sir! Having spent about four months here, I have gradually accepted this new name. I have no choice. However, I must mention here that being called madam is any day better than being called “last” or “VT”. When I used to travel by the local trains to my previous office, I was given the name “last” because I used to get off at the last stop. People don’t know each other by names in the local train; they know each other by their stations. That’s because there is a system of booking seats for which it is imperative that you know where the person sitting is going to get off so you can secure a seat even before she alights the train and vacates the seat. So you would commonly have names like Kurla, Vadala and Last. I was Last for 1.5 year and I am almost happy to say that I am Madam now!
PS:I forgot to mention this. I have two other names. A lady in the last place I worked would insist on calling me “brat” because she tought I was too smart for my own good(wonder where she got that from?). Another person I knew used to call my name correctly but in every written correspondence would misspel it .Naturally other people in office loved the twisted version and called me by that name till its newness gradually diminished.
(Thanks Debayan, for reminding me)