Could a title be more cliched than this! But the story indeed is of names.

Think about it. Naming things is not an easy task. Most of the time it is problem of plenty, but it is a problem for sure.

Think of geometry when you drew diagrams, you had to name the vertices but then there are naming conventions so you are saved – A, B, C, D… or P, Q, R, S.

If you are trying to write software programs, some of you who are into software development may know this problem very well, we are advised to give meaningful names to variables in the code. So, instead of naming variables x and y, we are expected to name the variable as invoiceNumber and invoiceAmount. But as you write more and more code you start running out of ideas.  So much so that there is a funny quote in programming about it.

There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.

— Phil Karlton

Naming animate things is also not easy. When I was born, my maternal uncle chose a name for me – Shashi. Probably my dad was not sure about it so when I was sent to school, he chose another one –  Ravindra and that became my official name. But all the people who knew me before my school-age, including my parents, still call me Shashi.

People of Andhra Pradesh, another state of India, have found a solution to this problem of plenty. When I first moved to Andhra Pradesh, I was baffled to see very long initials in the names of people. On probing, what I found out was that there is no question of choosing one when it comes to naming. All the “creative” well-wishers are allowed to propose a name to a newborn and then all the names are used. For example, someone could have the name, Sai Rama Krishna Venkata Pramod,  as they desired to have all the five names for him. Dealing with such a long name is not just impractical but disastrous, as some of you of my generation might have read in the story of Tikki Tikki Tembo. And their solution to this weird problem is to abbreviate the first name – SRKV Pramod. Simple!

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