Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Namewala Algorithm

If a mystic meteor were to crash into our planet and wipe out our collective memory of names, we’ll still have the wherewithal to rename every single person. The species we call ‘Mad Bawas’ deserve all credit for empowering us earthlings with this lifesaving technique which shall henceforth be referred to as the ‘Namewala Algorithm’.

The ‘Namewala Algorithm’ posits that anyone can generate a name for oneself by following the F + P formula. F here stands for any random first name and P is the profession you’re enamoured with or the craft that’s traditionally associated with your family. The beauty of the formulation is that it can create the most logical names custom-made for all earthly and unearthly languages.

So if you happen to be a tailor and Urdu is your mother tongue, you get Darzi as your P-name. Just append a meaningless Arabic sound like ‘Alkaza’ as your F-name and ta-da, you get Alkaza Darzi as your identity! Following this train of thought, if you were English, your name could be Ashley Taylor. If Spanish, make that Alfredo Modisto and if you were Swahili, you could opt for, say Mbsili Mshonaji.

Such an elegant method was invented by the refugee Parsis of the 19th century when they decided to give their faceless selves, a facelift. The first set of pioneers in a fit of nostalgia preferred their P-names to reflect Place of Settlement. Broacha (from Bharuch), Bilimoria (Bilimora), Khambhatta (Cambay) and Jhunjhunwala (Jhunjhunu) are some famous examples.

The latter day Parsis carved out their own distinctive personas by picking aptronyms (aptly suited names) based on professions. Mistry, Zaveri, Ustad, and Shroff were the bold precursors. Tijoriwala, Sopariwala, Daruwala, Lakdawala, Bandookwala, Furniturewala, Screwwala, Treasurywala and Sodabottleopenerwala followed suit with their semi-obvious surnames. Then came the, ultra anglicised Merchants, Bankers, Pilots, Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers. Today we have folks with surnames like ‘Winemaker’, ‘Writer’ and ‘Reporter’.

Given the penchant of Gen Y to be more innovative than the previous generations, I won’t be surprised if we get to see ‘DJ’, ‘Coder’, ‘Actor’, ‘Magician’, ‘Guitarwala’ ‘Tattoowala’ and ‘Bikewala’ soon. Any which way, we’re ready for the festival of the thousand walas!