Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ushasi by any other name, is just as sweet?

31 years ago, my mother gave me a lovely name: Ushasi. I still think it’s lovely of course, but living with a name like this has its disadvantages. In Calcutta, amongst my own people, my name was wrestled with constantly. Apart for the usual “Urvashi” or “Ushashree” mistakes, my very first poem printed in the school magazine, to my extreme dismay, was attributed to (in beautiful curly-wurly letters ) one "Mahasi Sen".

University was smoother, except for one stupid know-all senior who lectured me about how there IS no such name, and that I should let my mother know. He even told a friend of mine that he wondered at parents who give their children nonsense names. Of course he didn’t know what he was talking about, which is the case with most pompous assholes who presume to lecture others about things that don't concern them.
My name has a meaning of course, it means “Dawn”. When people ask me what it means and I say “Dawn”; it’s met by gales of laughter because they think I said “Don.”

Really the world is FULL of idiots.

Then came my move to the South. My first stop was Hyderabad for a little under two years. People at my first job, a tiny ad agency, began to call me Usha. I was NOT cool with that, but they didn’t particularly care. I didn’t feel like an Usha at all. So I made sure the moment I switched jobs and made new friends that I would be called Shashi instead. This new organization, who's famous for (among other things) their concern for employee comfort, took to ‘Shashi’ with a vengeance; and I was quite happy with my new name.

That was of course, until I got married and moved to Bangalore. My first job HERE, was a nightmarish sweat shop of a publishing company. And not surprisingly, it was “Usha” again. In fact, some Bangali and Assamese colleagues of mine freely discussed private things around me in their mother tongues, because they thought I was “Usha Singh”. When the bells ringing (for start-of-work, lunch time, and end of work) got too much for me, I brought a rifle to work. (JUST kidding—I felt like it but never did it). Not surprisingly, when I quit that sorry place and moved on to a high-end merchandising website, which I have good memories of, I was “Shashi” again.

Now that I’m in an investment bank, people swing between “Shashi” and “Ushasi”; which I’m fine with. Of course they pronounce it all wrong (like they're sneezing); but still its much better than plain Usha.

However, the curse is not entirely gone; I have been called various things over the last 3 years:
1. "Ushani"
2. "Ushasai"
3. "Usha C. Basu"
4. "Basu"
5. "U-u-u-u", and various other variations like "you there" or "Jeet's wife"(Grrr.).
6. And the best one so far, at a nearby hospital --“Ushaji”.

If I ever have a daughter, I’m calling her Tina.

16 comments:

Prog Power said...

would that be short for NavreetrashashteesthachrisTINA?

Ushasi said...

It would've, if I'd married someone from here. "N. T Tina. :D"

rider of rohan said...

frankly, a name which means DON sounds a lot of fun :)

shreyasi said...

Well, my dear, we share the same mother so we have suffered from the same affliction: idiots who don't get names that are not John, Vijay or...er...Tina. And I have passed on the cross to my children (though when I named them I thought I had chosen wisely. One of the best distortions of my name was the creation of an elderly English gentleman I was rather fond of. He called me She-Ra like the character from the cartoon he-Man and thus endowed me with superpowers and an impossible hour-glass figure (although that might have been She-Ra's superpower, I can't recall). I have been in my time Shreya C, Sharashi and Pangit (ugly in Filipino but maybe they weren't referring to my name!!) and I have lived to tell the tale, now I'm comfortable with Shreya and bear my mother no grudges (on that score) and hope my children fashion their own entente cordiale with their names, although my son already calls himself a name he has created for himself-'Meenamooo' which is without a doubt much cuter than 'Syon'!!

db said...

I think I know how you feel... I've even been asked why I have three last names - Deb, Sinha & Banerjee - and no first name. 'db' is so much easier that I'm considering an affidavit.

Expressions.. said...

ha ha ha!!! S-H-A-S-H-i!!! :P

Shaapla said...

HAHAHAHA oh my god. I FEEL your pain. Really, it sucks what a lack of versatility in phonetics can do to the nation.

Monica said...

Hey you did not add Shas/Shasi.....thats what I call you in case you did not notice....now I take 'personal offence' on going unnoticed....but I love the name and the fact that it is uniqure only adds charm to it!

Ushasi said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Mon and Rema: I only mentioned the ones which don't make any sense. Shashi, Shas, and Shasi aren't among them. :)

Rimky and Shaapla: my empathies. Yes you have inflicted unusual names on your children, let the games continue!

Ushasi said...

Rider: I know, right?

db: Yeah I remember messing up your name a few times myself in the early days 20 years ago. :D

Ushasi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debjeet said...

Ushasi means Goddess of Dawn.not just dawn.
And what about all the names i have for you:)

Ushasi said...

What would I do without your correcting influence, Jeet? ;)
I don't think these nice people want to hear them. :D

diya said...

This nice person does! :-)

On a minor scale of name-mincing (her name is only two syllables long, so you would think people would get it right!), she has been called 'Dear' by virtually everyone in the UK with a joke inevitably following, 'Divya' by most non-Bengalis, and 'Dia' most of her time in school because some girl who had the same name in her class didn't know how to spell!

I think I'll call you U-Jay-Z from now.

diya said...

And Shaun's take is

A boy named Sue(shashi)!

Ushasi said...

Haha! It was fun reading this...like conversing with your younger self. I DO have a daughter and her pet name is Mia. (I'd forgotten about Tina.)