What is in a Name?

C.V.SubramaniamAbout the author: The author of this article is Shri C.V. Subramaniam.  He retired as Director in the Department of Information Technology, GOI and has held several important positions in the Government including the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister. This is his tenth article in GConnect. We wish him all success.

Click here to read his previous articles in GConnect.

What is in a name?

What is in a name? People may ask; and readily quote Shakespeare in support; ” What is in a name that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.  Yes, certainly so, for, even if you call a rose a sore. In some case,names can be great fun too -especially in my case. changes that occurred in it  from time to time gave those enjoyable moments.

Where is ‘Bala’ in my name?

note label without Bala in C.V.Subramaniam's nameThe name given to me by my parents was ‘Balasubramaniam’ and in the school records the entry was, of course with the initials C.V.  But to my surprise, when I took a T.C. To join another school, after my fifth standard, the T.C. only Indicated  C.V. Subramaniam; may be, in their  wisdom, the school authorities thought that the word ‘Bala’ (meaning boyish) stage is now no more relevant.  Who would fight it out –  my parents also did not mind it. And, for me, I found the advantage, my name would now come within the space provided in the ‘labels’ I used to get from book-sellers for use on my covered text books and note-books –  what a delight!

Crossed All Barriers!

My delight suddenly took a turn for the worse, when I was asked to fill in my full (fully expanded)  name in the Certificate Book to be issued after SSLC.  The headmaster looking stern at me insisted that I  write my name truthfully, including surname. Lo, I suddenly discovered that the length of my name crossed all barriers –  it read ‘Chittoor Venkitachala Iyer Subramaniam Iyer’. No wonder, Goldsmith had fascination with longish names like ‘Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Tibbs in Vicar of Wakefield (though he would fail, if he were to compete with me). Since I detested the four letter word ‘Iyer’ (being synonymous with ‘priests’ generally for fear that my friends would poke fun at me), I actually hesitated for a while, but the headmaster’s eyes terrified me and I had to oblige.

When I started applying for jobs, I still continued to write my name as C.V. Subramaniam (though some of the certificates I had, still gave those 38 letters ).  I did this for fear that by the sheer length of my name, perhaps, I may miss a call for the interview.

A doctor – turned Superman!

Came my chance to work with scientists (I was at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) where the title ‘Doctor’ or ‘Professor’ was a common word I had to use.

When I had to correspond on behalf of my boss (who is a Professor), the reply I got from scientists from abroad invariably contained the title of Doctor or Professor for me! I started feeling some inner pleasure at these given free by scientists (some of them eminent). But the greatest delight I got  was when I found on a  letter that I got from a scientist abroad, my name typed on the envelope as Prof. Super Maniam. My happiness suddenly rose to dizzy heights with the thought : what a Super-man-I-am!

Short and Sweet

Though I continue writing my name at all conceivable places as ‘C.V. Subramaniam’ much to my delight again, most of my friends and colleagues, and even my bosses, call me just ‘CVS’; even those who write to me start with ‘dear CVS’ –  may be an acronym for Contracted Version (of) Subramaniam –  what a change all these years – my name suddenly becoming shorter, longer, shorter and to being the shortest (very few names have just three letters!).

I’m Popular in US too!

cvs pharmacy, second largest pharmacy chain in US

My immediate boss in DOE called me on the intercom one morning, immediately after landing in his room after returning from a foreign trip to USA. When I went to him and greeted him, he just handed over to me an empty paper carry bag and asked me to open and see. what gift if at all, could be there in an empty paper bag, that too folded.

While I saw the letters CVS printed on the top of the bag, my boss said: ‘I say, CVS, you are great, see your name is already well known in USA, and  laughed – it was the CVS Pharmacy’s paper carry bag. You might be aware CVS Pharmacy is the Second Largest Pharmacy Chain in United States with over 7000 stores (Click here to read about it Wikipedia). I also had a big laugh and thanked him for preserving it and remembering to ‘present’ it to me.

As tastier as a South Indian Food

Sambar - A Famous south Indian Sauce

Just this New Year day, my son who came from USA gifted me an iPad. And he started at once to create an e- mail account for me. He asked me to tell him what e- mail address I wanted. He said cvs and tell something after that. Since he was making me hurry up, the name of my Society building came to my mind immediately; and I said ‘Ambar’. He had finished the account creation. Little did I realize then that it could be read as cvSambar (A well known south Indian Sauce ) Both of us laughed.

I allowed him to retain the same, since I had made my name some what tastier! And it would be easier for everyone to remember.

To conclude:

As I had mentioned earlier, even when I send some mails to Mr.Vittal (To whom I had official interactions with was then Secretary, Department of Electronics, Government of India. He worked later as Central Vigilance Commissioner. Click here to read about him in Wikipedia) regarding some of my recently started writings, in the reply I get he always addresses me as ‘Dear CVS’.

While tending to agree with Shakespeare that finally I continue to be what I have been (whatever way I am referred to), to the question ‘What is in a Name?, I could at least say: ‘isn’t there some fun in a name?’