“Weather, Cynical Singaporeans and the Bible” or “Why Sidin?”
First of all thanks for the tremendous response to the previous post. Tons of people wrote. In fact after two days I had tears in my eyes. “All those people had so much fun reading it… and I didn’t make a penny”, I thought. The tears turned into a torrent. A big thank to you all those cracking enthu IIMK people too.
Hiding between the warm comments were a few people asking me what my name meant. Now I was on the search for a succulent topic to write about next. And something besides depressing lack of female company. So I had my criterion set for a new post. Something enjoyable, popular but without involving women. Which left very few things to write about, all illegal and most of them gross.
Thats when the idea of revealing the history of my name was suggested. And indeed I had something that should keep that hit counter ticking over. So here goes. Revelations by the pint. Dear family please forgive me.
Sidin. My name. And that of an italian company which went bankrupt. Sidin is also a name popular in Indonesia I think. I keep finding the word on Indonesian websites. Even assuming I am popular and dont know it, they all can’t possibly be references to me. But who knows, the Japanese I hear love Rajni movies. Indonesia may have a thing for fat mallus. (All of you who thought “Shakeela” when I said fat mallu raise your hands)
My father’s name is Sunny. Yes as in the weather. And yes the tams out there will mispronounce it. At REC Trichy (which is in tam land) I joined the NCC in first year. I wanted to lose weight and develop character. And it was cumpolsary to join one of the NCC, NSO or NSS. The NCC was better fed. At our first parade the tams had much fun shouting out my name wrongly. I was miffed and left the outfit after a day. The indignation was too great. Also I passed out while jogging round the footer field and had to lie down senseless for an hour in front of 50 people.
Now my mother’s name is a whole different story. My grandfather is one of those journeymen types. Hitchhiked to Bombay when he was young. Worked for an Englishman, then the railways and finally retired as a civil servant. He watched a lot of English movies in his heyday. Many of them being biblical classics. Thus when his first two kids were born their names were inspired by the movies he saw. My mother’s elder brother was Samson and my mom became Dilaila. Such things happen.
Fast forward many years. I am born!! (Jarring isnt it. Like when you board a superfast long-distance nonstop bus, and 5 minutes into the trip you suddenly want to pee.) Now Mallus are the most evil minded baby-namers in the world. Being a mallu myself I can write volumes on the strange ones I have come across. All names have stories too. Of course there is one name I can never forget. I was one of the judges for the long jump competition in school and was marking distances for the girls event. (I was a very sporty guy in school, judged long jump, discus, umpired cricket and hockey and water-boyed for the basketball team.) Half way into the day I notice the next jumper’s name. And couldnt hold myself anymore. “Shitty Abraham, 7A” it said. I ran to a teacher and showed it to her. She nodded gravely. “We have told her parents about it. They are changing it soon”. I dont even want to know the history or inspiration behind that one. Wonder what they renamed her though. Anything is better than “Shitty”. Even Purity, as a nurse in Hinduja Hospital is named. Sometimes its as if Mallus have a cynical sense of humour. I know a guy who is over 6 feet tall and as broad as a blast furnace. Whose name was Baby. Oh he had a big beard too.
Anyways in April ’79 I erupted with life and all the wheels started moving. The unthinkable happened. Now it seems quite scary being a nameless kid in mallu land. Anything could have gone wrong. Imagine being called Bright Sunny. The perpetrators decided to derive a name out of Sunny and Dilaila. So they took parts of both, rearranged it added an I and N for garnishing and voila!! Sidin was born. A harmless name indeed. But Dinny, Dilly, Linny etc. were all considered before the goodwill of my ancestors or past life or whatever prevented me from sounding pansy my enter life. Ladies and gentlemen being overweight is bad enough.
Of course many things have happened as I grew up to keep reminding me that I have a pretty interesting name. A teacher used to call me “Sudden”. Then there is that story that has the house roaring everytime my dad narrates it. After much penny pinching and brochure reading the family flew to Singapore and Hong Kong for a few weeks in 1986. We landed at Changi airport and walked out briskly as our travel agent had adviced. We would be welcomed by a receiver holding up a placard with our names. That was a little corny in itself. But after half an hour of frantic craning of necks and searching we still couldnt find our placard. Then my Dad huffed a bit and took us to a cute oriental lady (Even when I was 7 I knew a cute one when I saw her. At that age I called her aunty of course. Things are not too different today though.) She held up a placard in bright orange.
And on it were emblazoned the words “The Funny Family”. Like it was a sitcom or something. My dad cordially clarified the error “That’s Sunny Family madam”. We had orange sticker badges in case we got lost which said “Funny” too. Needless to say we were quite a hit in the tourist buses. But even in moments such as those I count my blessings. At least we werent those kids from the “Shittys”.