What’s in a Tambrahm name? – Part 2

In my earlier piece “What’s in a Tambrahm name?” I had talked about how Tambrahms have a unique way of compressing long names and coming up with typical aathula koopadara pergal like – Vengidi for Venkatachalam, Naanu for Narayanan and so on. If you had missed that article, please read here.

This kind of naming and calling is usually aathukulla or within the extended family. But there is another unique way of naming and calling outside of the family as well.  This is what I am trying to explore here.

In the 50s to 70’s, most Tambrahms from Palakkad boarded the Jayanti Janata express and headed towards Mumbai or Kerala Express to Delhi for some Joli.  And when they arrived, they came equipped not with Engineering degrees as it is today, but with skills like typing, stenography, Accounting and above all English proficiency.  So, invariably most of the Indian companies those days had Tambrahms as typists, Stenographers, Secretaries, Executive assistants and Accountants. In fact, the domination of Tambrahms in this domain was so much that, it provoked the then Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray to start a tirade against all mundu or as per him lungiwallah Madraasis!

It is usually said, “You are known by the company you keep!” In Tambrahm scheme of things, this is in fact literally true! That is, many times individuals are known and called by the company (organisation) they worked for. As we all know, in our previous generations, kids were always named after some UmaachiKrishnan, Ganapathy, Raman, Sivan and so on. Since this naming convention was extensively used, in the Tambrahm circle there was always a surfeit of Krishnans, Ganapathys and the like. So, one way to differentiate each of them was to prefix the name with the name of the company they worked for.

So a Krishnan working in Batliboi will be Batliboi Krishnan!

One may think that Cadbury Sivan is a Sivan who loved Cadbury chocolates or a Raymonds Dorai loved wearing Raymond suits. Athu thaan kidayaathu!  Sivan working in Cadbury became Cadbury Sivan and a Dorai employed in Raymonds was known by Raymonds Dorai!

And then you had Godrej Mani, Kirloskar Parameswaran, Indian Oil Gopalakrishnan, Voltas Hari, Burmah Shell Janardhanan, Glaxo Balan, LIC Rajan, Remington Murthy, Brooke Bond Raghu, Metal Box Suri, Tata Ravi, Birla Krishnamurthy, Times of India Natarajan, Britannia Chandru, State Bank Padmanabhan, IOC Radhakrishnan, L&T Ramaswamy, Saibol Venu, IOB Kannan and so on! Even in address books, names will be written as TVS Vasudevan, Simpson Rajagopal, Bajaj Venkatraman and so on.

In functions, if someone had to be introduced it will invariably be with the company name suffix. So in a kalyanam one mama (IPCL Raghavan) was introducing another mama. “Ivar thaan Colgate Subbaraman!” For which Subbaraman quipped – “Naan ippo pension aayaachu. Athanaala verum Subbaraman nnu sollungo!” For which IPCL Raghavan responded, “Retired aana enna. Engalukku neenga ennikume Colgate Subbaraman thaan!”

This prefixing by company name became so ubiquitous that many mamas while talking on the phone had to introduce themselves such without which nobody could recognise them. Something like this in this telephone conversation:

Mama 1: Hello…..

Mama 2: Hello… aaru pesarathu?

Mama 1: Naan thaan Krishnaswamy pesaren.

Mama 2: Krishnaswamya? Entha Krishnaswamy?

Mama 1: Adhaan, FIAT Krishnaswamy!

Mama 2: FIAT Krishnaswamya? Chollungo. Chollungo, Sowkiyama?

Most ushaar mamas will introduce themselves with the company name in the 1st place!

“Hello!

Naan Subbu!

 Enfield Subbu!”

In fact, I heard that Rajnikant’s dialogue of “Mala da, Anna Mala” in the film Annamalai was inspired by this Tambrahm naming scheme! The film’s Director Suresh Krishna is a Tambrahm brought up in Bombay, aache!

Solla pona, “My name is Bond. James Bond!” dialogue was exported by Tambrahms only😀

At times, the company connection to the name of the mamas extended to mamis also. As per that, I know of some mamis who were called as Saibol Sarojam and Kirloskar Kamala etc.

Apart from easy identification, there is one another periya advantage of linking the name with company. Antha company product ethavathu vaangum pothu, discount venumna correcta concerned mama va contact pannalaam! I recall one Godrej mama was everyone’s go to person for getting Godrej fridge and cupboard at whole sale prices!

While in Mumbai, most of the Tambrahms worked in private companies, in Delhi, it was mostly Central government departments. There was a time till 80’s when the entire Delhi bureaucracy was ruled by Tambrahms all the way up to the level of Secretary in ministries. Fortunately this naming convention was not adopted there, I think. Otherwise, we would have had Finance Ramachandran, Education Ramamurthy and so on!!! Health Balachandran and Agriculture Raman… would have been hilarious! But in Delhi, Tambrahms working in Public Sector Undertakings were promptly called by the company they worked for. SAIL Krishnamurthy is well known!

In Delhi, many mamas were also working with Newspapers . Hindu la work pannindu iruntha Vaithi  used to be known as Hindu Vaithi. When he got married and soon put on some weight, Hindu Vaithi soon became Gundu Vaithi 😀

I may be wrong here but, I didn’t notice this naming convention being adopted by other communities like Maharashtrians or Telugu. I have never come across a Bombay Dyeing Milind or a BARC Yashwant or for that matter a CEAT Balakrishna!

This tradition of prefixing with company names died a natural death post 90’s. Blame it on liberalisation and reforms for this also! Unlike that generation, sticking to one company throughout their career became passe for the post 90’s generation and this naming convention also died.  However, I am just wondering if the same had continued now also, some of the names will make us roll in the floor and laugh!

Makemytrip Rohit

Amazon Ashwin

Future Shashank

Ola Vinod

And so on!

Postscript: The spark for this piece germinated from a conversation I had with my friend Prognosys Sudharshan – so duly thanking him here.

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16 thoughts on “What’s in a Tambrahm name? – Part 2

  1. This is humorous recollect of a past personally lived thro’ in identifying relatives. This practice was widespread amongst Telugus too ( which I am one) & one used to do so exactly as written by you. Today while my Rocket Scientist Namesake cousin remains identified by only his name & bearing no reference to the Rockets, his father- in- law was called “Vanguard Vishveswaraiah”, after Vanguard Insurance of yesteryear. So famous was the identity link, it was said that on spotting “Vanguard Vishveswaraiah” on the road, any gathering of friends would immediately disperse ( faster than a Sec144 being imposed), lest one get saddled with an unwanted Insurance policy! A nostalgic trip of the simple days gone by. Keep blogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know that this prevailed among Telugus too!
      On people running away at the sight of a person, I can relate to the incident what you have refered. There was one LIC Balu which people used to avoid!!! 🙂 🙂
      Thanks for the feedback, Jayant!

      Like

  2. RSA, what to say !!! Excellent one as usual.. It is good that apart from your serious blogs on society n country, we get to see your other side with humorous blogs like these… As you rightly said having company name prefixing your name in those days was an honour.. Unfortunately not anymore as loyalty factor doesn’t exist among both employees n employers and both are to be blamed for that.K

    Had good fun reading the blog. Would ask you to try blogs on say

    1- marriage arrangement in a Tambrahm family from பெண் பாக்கும் படலy to கட்டுசாத மூட்டை including vambu and possible next marriage fixing in that marriage..
    2- Tambrahm mamas as armchair critics on politics n on society etc.,

    Keep writing more Mate.. Happy for you
    .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have my own experience that my name and my colleague name is also same though we worked in different places but for new delhi walas they know only as madrassis as we both from Chennai and hence most of the communication arrived exchanged only. Later when we work together due to her transfer and even after my vrs the prefix still affixed with the name. The prefixes are Computer for me and Cochin for her as I was the only technical person then in late 80s.

    PS actually I have added my comment in tamilbrahmins.com where your this post is there you may visit there also

    Liked by 1 person

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