I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar.. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Grannymar who has brought this topic to the LBC today should be able to say a few things about how she got stuck with her monicker. To the best of my knowledge she is not a grand mother. Very intriguing is it not?

I have written three posts on this subject earlier and I don’t find it difficult to write again something new. The first one was way back in June 2008. It was followed by one in November 2010 and the last one was in November 2011 where I discovered that a rose has been named after me. I strongly recommend that my readers read all the three to see three completely different approaches to the topic. And to add to the list here is the fourth one!


“Humanity at large is almost always drawn to the infantile comfort of having an external authority make all the decisions.”

~ Erich Fromm.

And among all the external authorities that one is forced to live with, one’s name having been chosen by someone else is the most cruel. One simply goes through a lifetime being called something that someone else thought most appropriate. How many people do you know who think that their names are most inappropriate? In India, every newspaper, every day, publishes a number of advertisements in the personal columns announcing the change of names as a prerequisite to officially getting the new name registered for all legal purposes.

“Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.”

~ Joe Namath

On the other hand, one gets flattered when someone decides to name someone or something after oneself till something like this happens.

“I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’ ”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Some names simply live with us for ever and remind us of something or the other like Popeye The Sailor. Spinach and Popeye go together like bacon and eggs or chhole and bhature. So, someone with big forearms gets saddled with the name of Spinach if he objects to being called Popeye, or someone with big eyes gets to be called Popeye first and then naturally becomes Spinach if he is in English speaking circles or Palak if he is among us deshis.

But the perversity of the whole Popeye naming is that the association with iron content in spinach came about because Erich von Wolf, a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, von Wolf accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach by an order of magnitude. While there are actually only 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, the accepted fact became 35 milligrams. To put this in perspective, if the calculation was correct each 100-gram serving would be like eating a small piece of a paper clip.

“Once this incorrect number was printed, spinach’s nutritional value became legendary. So when Popeye was created, studio ex–ecutives recommended he eat spinach for his strength, due to its vaunted health properties. Apparently Popeye helped increase
American consumption of spinach by a third!

(Source – Samuel Arbesman’s book: The Half-Life of Facts.)

Now, that is what I call obfuscation. Start with one topic and end up with a totally unrelated one. So, those of you so inclined may like to give me a new name to add to the very many that I am already saddled with.

34 thoughts on “Names.”

  1. We should be happy if no one calls us names ! As you well know in true Hindu tradition depending on the time and place of birth the akshara , first letter of the name you are to be given is decided by a priest/horoscope wallah ( not that everyone follows this now ) . In my case it was actually “La/Lo” , but my Dad vetoed that and named me after his late younger brother . In the case of our daughter it was “Pa” and we followed that and selected her name from a “menu” of names starting with “Pa” supplied by friends and relatives . Given names if they are “embarrassing” can always be “obfuscated” by giving pet names ( which often stick ) , but with surnames that are embarrassing ( a la Ramsbottom , Focker etc ) , one ( at least the boys and as a result the wives , usually at least ) is generally stuck with it ! In the case of my daughter her husband took on her surname , much before the Havells Ad , so that was that ! You also must know that some couples in India who have remained childless for many years and not resorting to IVF / surrogate babies etc , “vow” to name their child when born with rather “nasty” names ( eg Kuppuswamy ) ! Yes the naming business is a strange one !

    1. I don’t think that you had joined by then, but the bloke who interviewed me at campus was Peter Lightbody! The guy who did the final interviewing was Jimmy Twaddell. I met the latter’s son later in one of the international meets. He was in charge of New Zealand. There was also another bloke posted in Turkey if my memory serves me right whose name was Sidebottom.

      1. Was Peter really a “lightbody” – never met him . But Jim Twaddell ( JWT ) I did in 1968 when he was GSM ( author of many “Sales bulletins” including the famous GSM’s 10 point plan for arranging an “Anchor” cabinet ! I remember photos of PG standing with draws of a cabinet filled with skeins along with
        good old Gertie ( secy Bombay Depot ) ! I once had a meeting with JWT , who of all things asked me if I liked the Beatles and I have to say at the time I said ( probably suicidally and live to regret it ) said “No” ! He also asked me a trick question ” Which is cheaper 25 p each or Rs 3 a gross . I mumbled the former so I don’t think I made a a good impression on him at all . Did not matter in the end I guess . He was later posted to South Africa as Sales & Mktg Manager I think and then went off my screen at least . Of course we had Michael PRATT as CMD – hows that for a name ? He He !

        1. Grannymar : I am sure they are as the Pratts we know . Just the names was what was being discussed ! A Rose by any name and all that …

        2. I am sure you are right Ramana , except that it was published as a “GSM’s Bulletin” at the time I think . I am very much still in touch with Daniel Justin James ( in may ways my Guru )

      1. Well I did and still do love spinach – especially Indian styl;e like my local Indian restaurant does

  2. You got it all wrong, Ramana: Grannymar may not be a grandmother but, by the sounds of it, she is a grand mother.

    I wouldn’t go as far as Shackman ‘loathing’ Popeye but I sure viewed him with some suspicion. Not that he played much of a role in my upbringing. And i too like spinach.

    To fully appreciate Nandu’s reference to ‘Focker’ you need to pronounce it as only certain Americans can.

    May I suggest ‘Mango’ as my pet name for you (in the privacy of our betrothal). Ripe and juicy – mangoes best eaten whilst having a bath. Which is not the most comfortable place but at least it cuts down on doing the laundry.

    Ursula recently posted..Blink and you’ll miss it

    1. Ursula : arguably the best mango in the whole wide world is the Aapoos/Alphonso which Ramana I think blogged about a while ago . Somehow I don’t think it would make for a very endearing pet name – in or out of the shower . However it is for Ramana to endorse or not … [ Caution: “Mango” is a Registered TM ]

      1. You are right, Nandu. I’ll call him Alphonso instead. Sounds more manly than Mango, whilst still being ripe and juicy. And yes, my suggestion was inspired by Ramana waxing lyrical over the seasonal arrival and glut of that most divine fruit. I went green with envy. Maybe he’ll send me a box as a token of his undying affection. Who needs diamonds or truffles when you can have Alphonso(s)?

        Ursula recently posted..Blink and you’ll miss it

    2. I see that my preoccupation with the weekend has enabled Nandu to hijack my comment/repsonse process and so shall respond in the latter comment. In any case, I can dream about the tryst in the bath!

  3. Interesting that in a tradition accepting reincarnation and karma and being an individual with a belief in synchronicity, that you would believe the name to be somewhat randomly externally applied! 🙂
    The Old Fossil recently posted..Names

      1. Not your complaint about your name, which is not my point. My point is more in reference to the idea of “external” and “random” which doesn’t seem consistent with your other beliefs.

        “And among all the external authorities that one is forced to live with, one’s name having been chosen by someone else is the most cruel. One simply goes through a lifetime being called something that someone else thought most appropriate. ”
        The Old Fossil recently posted..Names

  4. That’s a fascinating story about the exaggerated iron content of spinach. I hadn’t heard it before. As for names, my name is a very neutral one that luckily doesn’t inspire any offensive variations, so it was never a source of teasing when I was at school. And it’s a name I’ve always liked and have no wish to change.
    nick recently posted..Who am I?

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