If one were to handpick a namer’s paradise on earth, the hill state of Meghalaya should effortlessly make the cut even if the selection committee were high on hash and would be making their choice, blindfolded and all. The reason is charmingly simple: the citizens of Shillong and its sister cities have the funnest names ever.
Being a Christian majority state with a severe colonial hangover, Meghalayan parents apparently have a deep fascination for anything English. So, irrespective of whether a name has negative connotations or not, if the word is found appealing, the child is bestowed that name.
Blogger Rahul Karmakar recounts the curious case of a Gonghlah family where three girls were named ‘Institute’, ‘Constitute’ and ‘Prostitute’ simply because there was a rhyme to it! One has also read of a Khasi mom opting for ‘Million’, ‘Billion’ and ‘Trillion’ for her daughters. Perhaps she was into lottery tickets?
Six years ago, several international dailies went to town about how ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Hitler’, ‘Carter’ and ‘Kennedy’ were in the fray for the Meghalaya Assembly Polls. Some attribute this to the Meghalayan streak to bequeath famous names. Personally, I love the trend as it spices up the otherwise bland legislative experience. I’d rather be watching ‘Billy Kid A. Sangma’ firing away questions at ‘Frankenstein W. Momin’ than be subjected to the boring zombies we call MLAs.
A telephone directory in ‘the abode of the clouds’ could provide you as much levity as a joke book. In it you’re likely to discover: a rich man named ‘Hilarious Dhkar’ who is taken rather seriously in politics; the soccer player ‘Fullmoon Mukhim’ who waxes and wanes on the field; a priest called ‘Helpme Mohrmen’ who’s handily available for a confession; the motor mouth ‘Oral Syngkli’ who possibly had a dentist dad; the struggler ‘Laborious Manik S. Syiem’ who’s destined to never have it easy; the bloke ‘Shitlang Pale’ whose very presence raises a stink; the very lost ‘Dunno Nongpluh’ who doesn’t know if he’s coming or going; and the poor chap ‘Rockfeller Ymbon’ who has a wealth of experience in penury!
There are others with equally outrageous first names ranging from ‘Latrine’, ‘Submarine’, ‘New York’, ‘Thailand’, ‘Kilometer’ to the downright nerdy ‘Friction’ and ‘Process’. But the one that I like the most is the humbly modest ‘Clever Marak’!