Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Surname is Whaaaat?

Normally, one would spell the surname go-kha-lay as “Gokhale”. Well at least that’s how any self-respecting, true to his Konkan soil, Maharashtrian Gokhale would spell it. But, let’s just say our family is a little different, and no the surname really doesn’t have much to do with it. My parent’s like to refer to themselves as anti-social animals who will rarely invite people over. “If you wish to see us, give us a call. Check if we are home and you are more then welcome. We’ll take good care of you” I mean, who says that to their own relatives? Then there is the part where none of us believe in god… and every time our presence is required in a religious ceremony we have no idea about what we are supposed to do. So I guess our surname being a little “off”, just adds to the weird family image that we have.

Years ago, when my great grandfather was alive we were called the “Gokhale’s”.

The British Raj.

My great-grandfather went to England for some work. His name was Govind Gokhale. One Indian name the British could deal with, perhaps they had no patience to get the surname right. They would pronounce the surname as Go-kha-lee. Not a man of patience, my great-grandfather decided to just change the spelling, something a little simpler and obvious. So that’s how it became Gokhalay.

My grand-father however chose to stick to the old surname, true to the Marathi blood in him. But, my father saw sense in change and adopted it. And now there are only 3 people in Pune or Mumbai with the surname viz. my parents and me.

It’s really funny how these external sources can affect your life. I wouldn’t have imagined that someone’s way of pronouncing a name over 50 years ago would affect the way people look at my surname today (with skepticism). But what’s interesting is that a one culture can affect another person in such a way that they are forced to change something that’s almost an integral part of their identity. And I live with the surname I have as a result, which of course I like.


Vedang said...

sometimes it's socially necessary to change your name. it's so much nicer to see your name printed as 'Mulay' rather than 'Mule'. And god forbid if you have surnames like Hagare or Parkarwarkar (i kid you not!).

Vedang said...

Lamby Bloo said...

haha..i completely agree..
i love my surname..