What happens when everyone you know wants to name your baby

The minute you announce your pregnancy to the world, everyone wants to know what you’re going to call the baby when it comes out. The baby, to be sure, doesn’t care since all it wants is to be fed and changed whenever the fancy to pee strikes it.

The baby doesn’t get to have an opinion on what it’s going to be named – something it will have to live with forever. If it did, half the men of my generation wouldn’t be called Karthik. Or Kartik.

Everybody else, though, believes it is their divine right to come up with a name for junior. Sex determination tests are illegal in India and if you’re a law-abiding citizen, chances are you will be stuck with two lists of names. One for boys and one for girls.

New-age parents want unique names for the baby, but unfortunately, ALL new-age parents seem possessed by this desire. We think ahead and want an Indian name that admission committee people in high-brow Western universities will find easy to pronounce and shorten.  A name that will fit easily into application forms.

Therefore, everyone enters the same keywords on Google and ends up with the same names. So many Vivaans, for instance. You can’t go anywhere in the country without meeting a child named Vivaan.

And since grandparents have a say in the matter, too, the tiny baby cannot have just one (not so) unique name that they find hard to remember and pronounce. The baby is saddled with a god’s name or an ancestor’s name too because that’s the best thing about growing old – nobody can tell you to go take a hike. Young people are liable to listen to you because you’ve successfully beaten death for so many decades. This is why I can’t wait to be seventy.

Naming the baby can prove to be really stressful when grown-up people start throwing tantrums over it. Sadly, this is often the case. The mother, who feels she deserves the ParamVir Chakra at the minimum for pushing this large-headed child out of her, cannot believe that people around her are not even listening to her suggestions.

The sleep-deprived husband, who has usually gone with his Mama’s instructions on everything in life, right from the optimum temperature to down his Bournvita, is bewildered by this tug of war and decides to behave like an ostrich.

Random relatives act hurt when their suggestions go unheeded. Finally, after many battle scars and heated arguments, the baby is given about twenty names to satisfy everyone. And, after all that, it ends up being called something as inane as ‘Chotu’ or ‘Paapa’.

The baby grows up, blissfully unaware of the bloody history behind its name, and decides to rename itself Lisbeth Salander when it reaches high school. With so many names to pick from, it’s no wonder that Indian cinema has never made a James Bond-type film. “The name is Bond. VivaanSubramaniam Bond!” doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?