A name has no meaning actually. There was a time when shop keepers used to display their names as Lahori Lal & Sons. People craved for sons. “Vansh ka naam chalane ke liye”. It was a different issue that he only had daughters but it was a tradition to name your shops and expect your sons to run the family business. It was another matter that property disputes emerged moment the joint families broke up. As education spread, Kirrori Mal son of Lahori Lal joined a government job and could not sit on the “Galla” ever. Today a daughter is as good as a son, so name doesn’t matter at all.

In school I think no one was called by his name. Everyone had a nick name. I would rather go to say that if you call Iqbal as Iqbal he may not respond but if you said “Palla” caught his attention. From box to bocus, khoti to goti, a tall boy was called long as we used to think in Punjabi and speak in English. Tall never registered but “Lamba” did. Not forgetting “Choti Duniya” who was our waiter and warder. No one called him Suresh as the highest he reached was four feet.

In our family we have so many people named baba, not the Bhajan-Keertan kinds. You ask me their real names I don’t think I would be able to recollect. My mom’s family was huge. I am told they were fourteen siblings. Mom was the youngest. One day I asked her how did she remember all their names? So she started off, the elder brother was “barke bhaiya” and elder sister was “barki”, then there was “tunna bahi, munna bhai, gole bhai”, then there was “iron bua & golden bua”. She didn’t know their names but that’s how she remembered them and that’s how we know them too.

We have a very friendly street dog called Boozo but I call him Benjamin. My in laws had a dog named Bonzo but my mother in law used to call him Benjamin so I tried the same with this fellow. He responds and knows that I call him with a different name. His love for me is the same; the way he plays with me is the same, so what if I call him differently. Even animals don’t bother as love and understanding matters more.

Even our Army posts have names. That name will have nothing to with the village nearby. For ease of recognition of landmarks you will often find people in Olive Greens saying, samne pahari ka silsila, us main sab se unchi choti, naam pimple. The damn mountain peak is above 15000 feet and still call it a pimple. Then they also use words like helmet top, whale back, elbow, knuckle, finger etc. By the end of indication of landmarks one used to be confused which is our body part and which was enemies.

Some Army appointments too are based on the animal kingdom names like Tiger, Lion, Panther and Lamb. I am thoroughly confused because Company Commander is a tiger, Commanding Officer is a tiger and Brigade Commander is also a tiger. I am sure there would be more tigers hiding somewhere. A good deception plan to confuse the enemy I would say. Then there were a few Sparrows and Eagles too. To add to the confusion on the wireless you had Alpha one calling Bravo one Charlie. Can’t you just say, Noel calling Nandu, send some toddy, over.

I see we are on a name changing spree in our country. Pradhan Mantri has already re-christened himself as “Pradhan Sewak” and if need be he can be called “Desh ka Chowkidaar”. Vitt mantri should then be called “Galle ka Rakhwala” or “Bahi Khate Wala”, Home Minister will be known as “Ghar Wala”, Textile Minister as “Ang Dhakshak”, Aviation Minister as “Pushpak Chalak”, Mining Minister as “Khaan Saab”, the others you all can add on.

Be that as it may. Why Delhi’s name is not changed depending on who is the Chief Minister? Will it change the way it is governed? Call it “Kejristan”, or “Shielavaas” or even “Dhuaan Garh” or “Pradooshit Pardesh”. Will things change for the good then? I wonder!