What’s in a name?

Scene 1:
For the longest time in school, I went by Girish SJ. Obviously, my teachers in Singapore could never pronounce the full forms of my initials: the S (Sreenivas) and the J (Jayaraman) were way too hard for their untrained tongues. That’s not to say they didn’t try (their attempts can be a post in itself), but I tried to keep things simple. Girish SJ was simple.

Scene 2:
Zoom to Chennai, India. Here, students were attuned to placing their initials before, not after their name. I, however, continued with trusty old Girish SJ, despite disapproval from several quarters (and octants). I even had a close friend tell me once that I was disrespecting my father by placing his initial (J) after my name. I could go by J Girish S, but this wasn’t keeping things simple.

Scene 3:
A few years later, when SJ Suryaah hit the height of his fame (or should I say notoriety), it wasn’t too long before some genius discovered that my initials matched those of that thespian. Soon, everyone was calling me SJ Girish and followed it by giggling like blithering idiots. Which they were. Now, Girish SJ had survived a lot in its time, but comparisons with SJ Suryaah (“Are you his brother? Hehehe”) were too much even for its stoic character. I therefore felt obliged to switch to something else – and I turned to Girish Sreenivas J. My pens ran out of ink faster and it took me longer to finish my exams, but I wasn’t complaining.

Scene 4:
After arriving in the US for college, it was made clear that one’s last name could not be an initial. I was no longer Girish Sreenivas – I became Girish Jayaraman. More officially, I became Girish S Jayaraman. Even more officially, I became Girish Sreenivas Jayaraman. All 24 letters of it. After a while, even a new version of your name can grow on you. I now write “Girish Jayaraman” in my notebooks without batting an eyelid; in the past, I wouldn’t have considered such a travesty unless a country’s existence counted on it.

Scene 5:
In the online world, however, why worry about such formalities? When I started a Twitter account, I decided to go for a simple User ID – and what better than the astoundingly creative GirishSJ? Even when I started this blog and wanted a simple url, GirishSJ was the trusty friend I turned to.

Well, things were working out fine until, out of the blue, Twitter decided that it too must have some fun at my expense. A few days ago, for no reason at all, GirishSJ became girishsj on Twitter. Just like that. No request. No warning. No phone calls asking for my approval.

I am sure you appreciate the world of difference between GirishSJ and girishsj. The capital letters add a touch of class and elegance. More importantly, they make it clear that my name isn’t supposed to be pronounced ‘gireeshesju’ (a lot of people in this country have trouble pronouncing it as it is). Trying to control the damage, I went to my Twitter settings and tried to change things to what they used to be. But no – Twitter, known for its tremendous mood swings, didn’t feel like cooperating. The best I could do was Girish_SJ, but underscores are so 1998.

I guess Girish SJ just has to deal with all that life throws at it. If only the world liked simple things.

PS. I’m assuming that you type in GirishSJ.wordpress.com to get to this blog. NOT girishsj.wordpress.com. No.