What’s In A Name?

My friend Anil was recently hospitalised for a minor ailment and at the time of discharge, was asked his full name to fill out a form to generate a receipt for payment. He was asked his first name, last name and his father’s name. Luckily for him, Anil remembered that the father’s name was being asked to use as his middle name just in time and gave the name Kumar which is not his father’s name.

And there lies a story. And another.

At the time of enrolling in the NDA, way back in the late fifties of the last century, the officer filling in the details in a register for entrants, entered Anil’s middle name as Kumar, which is a common name in India which is usually part of the full name Anil Kumar. From that time, all official records have Anil’s name as Anil Kumar as his first and middle names and till now he has never had to use any other name, except this time at the hospital. He was able to give the name of his father as Kumar as otherwise claiming reimbursement for medical expenses with a receipt issued in a name different from the official name would not have been possible.

When Anil shared this story with me, I was reminded of my own story. I come from the South of India where the system of first name, middle name and surname does not exist. One is given a name and usually the father’s name is affixed before the name as an initial. In that scheme, my name should have officially been R. Ramana for Rajgopaul Ramana, as Rajgopaul was my father’s name. Since I was born in Mumbai where the naming follows a different system, my name on my birth certificate was entered as Ramana Rajgopaul. Since then, all the descendants of my late father have had the surname Rajgopaul. The problem arose when I had to apply for a passport where the middle name was asked and since my father’s official name was Krishnamurthy Rajgopaul, the former name being his father’s, my middle name became Krishnamurthy.

Complicated what? I wonder what Shakespeare would have had to say about that!

Response To A Response.

Within my facebook family, I belong to a small group of people, all from an alumni group where a lot of ribbing and leg pulling goes on.

I recently had an occasion to participate in one such trail of comments. I published one cartoon photograph of a dog in a yogic position and asked two practitioners whether it was their pet. Both of them practice and preach/teach yoga.
yoga kutta

Another friend, not one of the two yogis in the group commented that it must belong to a famous yoga teacher Ramdev who is a source for much humour in the circle. When that comment appeared, I posted another cartoon of a dog wrapped in a shawl and asked in that case, this must belong to another character much lampooned by most of us bar one great supporter Shekhar.
AK dog

My friend Mukund promptly came up with this comment – “I am sure Ramana you had both pictures ready and were waiting for the Ramdev comment. Amal bit the bait faster than Shekhar”

Shekhar responded – “Ramana posted a shawl pic which means …. ha ha!” The reference being to Ramdev who once escaped from a rather embarrassing situation by wearing a burkha instead of his normal attire.

I responded – “Shekhar, clever, very clever. Actually, I could not lay my hands on one in a burkha! I now have.”

This entire exchange took me back to 1969 when I was stationed for a couple of weeks in my then employer’s head office to complete a project. I had just been confirmed in my employment in the Management cadre after completing my Management Training and one particularly unpopular senior manager decided to teach me some fine aspects of management before I left the head office on my posting. This manager was very affectionately called the prawn and that should give my readers a general idea of his personality.

On the first day that I was there, I had to liaise with him to complete my own work and he asked about some letters that I had written before I had reached the office personally. On discussion, he decided that he should teach me how to write letters and demonstrated to me how corporate communication should be entered into. He pulled out a letter that he had received from a branch office, to which he had responded and the response was going out that day. He asked me to read both and I duly did. He then proceeded to dictate another letter to his secretary in my presence while asking me to listen carefully. After that dictation was complete, he said that the dictated letter was in response to the reply that he would get to the letter that was going out that day. When I asked him how he knew what that would be like, he said that was what management was. Anticipating responses to responses and being ready with further responses. I was quite amused though I could not show that to him. I told him that I was very impressed and went off to handle my own project. Two days later, he came to the room where I was working on my project to show me the response that he had received and triumphantly announced how accurate he was! Frankly while I was quite impressed with the entire story, I just could not understand why he could not have finished the matter off by eliminating the last two letters through being proactive in the first instance. I was then enlightened by some other knowledgeable colleagues that had he done that, he would be left with that much less work! Typical bureaucratic approach to problem solving!

I wish that I had been senior enough then to tell him, like I told Shekhar, “Prawn, clever, very clever!”

Mail To The Dead. II

When I posted my Mail To The Dead last year, I thought that the mailer will somehow get to see it and stop sending further mails as I had rung up their office and had requested them to stop sending any more mail and had also completed the paper work asked for by them.

The Indian Public Sector companies march to their own drum beats.  I had posted my experience with them on the telephone immediately following my father’s death which caused quite a lot of amusement then.

Look at this envelope.


And the letter’s first page!


You can click on the images to get an enlarged version of each image.

After the conversation I had with the lady last year, I had followed up with formal communication with copy of the death certificate and also an affidavit confirming that he did not leave behind a grieving widow. Today, when I rang them up again, there was a different lady at the post and she promptly suggested that the mail must be delivered to the widow. When I said that there was no widow she was stumped and said that there is something wrong and that she will rectify the records.

I shall keep you posted on developments as I am sure that something like this happen again.


Being Right.

One of the most satisfying feelings is to be proven right. Can you imagine anything better than being able to say “I told you so!” It is all the more satisfying when just a few days ago, I had written on the same subject in a different vein.

Now, I am on a high this morning because, I have been proven right.

We affectionately call our bureaucrats as Babus. Look at this fantastic achievement of our own! They have sure made us all very proud. We have come on top of at least one international comparison list.