Overseas Living: The Trend of Americanized/European nicknames instead of desi names!
At a desi wedding parties or other similar functions abroad, you are bound to run into some guests with interesting names; I mean the English version of Indian names. If someone introduce himself as Gary Singh, you know right away that his parents did not name him Gary. Now, is his real name Gurdip, Gurjit, Gurdev….? That could be a good guessing game if you get bored of the party!
Nicknames are very common amongst American and European people, but those are often predictable. Jim is generally short for James, Tony is nickname for Anthony, Bob is probably Robert and so on…. White people are used to the nicknames. However, when Indians use nicknames, they are often questioned. “You are forgetting your root”, you grandma will probably remind you. Others will call you ABCD – ‘American born confused desi’, or even worse!
Also, if you introduce yourself with Americanized/westernized nickname, some people may get confused, or they want to know more. “So, what is your real name? You don’t look like ‘Gary’!” Now, don’t take it the wrong way, that could be a sincere question. They just want to know more about you; many people use such conversation as ice breakers.
The general question that many have: should we be using Americanized nicknames? Does that make you hypocrite or shallow amongst your hardcore Indian circle?
The answer: It depends on you and how comfortable you feel with your Americanized nickname. If you are okay with it, others will be okay too. It may take some times for everyone to get used to it, especially for those who know you by your Indian name, but that is part of the change. And, you could very well have multiple nicknames – one for Indian friends and other for the work place or American/Western social circle. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as you are comfortable with it.
Now, while selecting the nickname, pick something that you like, and something that suits you. As an example, if your Indian name is Navdeep, chances are that you may already be called Nav or Navi. That is easy enough to pronounce and you can use it as your nickname even in America/Western circle. You will be already comfortable with the name. Similarly, for a given name of Girish, chances are that your friends already call you Gir or Giri; changing it to ‘Gary’ is not a too big of a leap.
So, be comfortable with your nickname. After all, your name defines you. That is who you are, that is what you will be called forever. Be creative, keep it simple and if it suits you, then embrace it.
Now, there is a school of thought on this topic that is against using Americanized nicknames. For example, if you work or live in a very diverse group of population, who are open-minded and exposed to other cultures, you may decide to stay with your Indian name. There is nothing wrong with it as long as you and your colleagues can ‘work’ with it. But then again, you are bound to run into some receptionist, or when you call in for pizza delivery, where you may have to repeat you name two, three or four times… before they understand it. For those situations, which can be daily encounters, it helps to have an American or easy name.
I recently attended a small party where a gentlemen introduced himself as ‘Mo’. I was curious to find out his real name, just because I have not met many Mo who look like Indians or middle Eastern. I found out later on that his real name is Mohamed. I thought it was a smart move on his part. The terrorism incidents in Europe and America have created toxic atmosphere and religious tensions everywhere. So, people are adjusting their names to avoid unwanted attention.
In summary, you don’t need American nickname, especially if your given name is simple and easy to pronounce by everyone. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with having an American or Westernized nickname. For the Indians living abroad, it makes the life simpler.
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