The Meaning of Names

I have a propensity for weird names. I’ve been labeled with a fairly exotic name, and so I find that naming things and situations aptly is a skill worth having because I hope that my offspring wouldn’t have to suffer the repeated mispronunciations, misspellings or worse complete transformations of their name into something that is more globally palatable.
To answer Juliet’s question and disagree with her reasoning, there is a lot to a name. I have found names charming and powerful, how one word instantly engages the attention of another human being. In many works of fantasy, true names have been assumed to have some sort of power over the speaker and hence they are labeled with aliases. Some of our names carry the stories of our origin. Surnames especially are common among clans of people who have shared common ancestors. Names also tell of whose offspring we are. Not unlike the Russian “-vitch” suffix, where Ivanovitch means “son of Ivan”, or the Anglo-Saxon “Peterson” which means “son of Peter”. Names in many cultures are borrowed from the religion themselves, as is common to Indian, Latin American and Islamic cultures. It appears that a name is a preview of a person’s identity.
You may wonder why this information is not on my about page. Or why it has featured on my blog way after I have been writing in it. I don’t know why. I tend to overshare my life with everyone, and I was simply too shy to come forward and declared myself with enough credentials so that I could be found in the real world as the author of this work. It was the same with the college I go to. Painstakingly hiding the name and my affiliation with it, so that I could not be found to be a source of all these opinions and feelings and literature that I have created.  But it is time to offer you a humble preview of who I am.
My name is Piyali.
If you Google what my name means, it apparently shows up as a Bengali-Sanskrit word for “wood”. My grandmother had (before the advent of Google in my life)  informed me that I was named after a river. But I was face with a rather odd problem of explaining how my family could have named me after wood, especially since statistical evidence lists that wood is somehow a “more accurate” meaning than the name of a river. Everybody thought it was odd that I should be named after something so plain. But I have secretly learned to rejoice in it. I am yet to learn of anyone who denies how fundamental wood is and was to our lifestyle as human beings. The ability to create tools and shelter began with wood, and if I may be so immodest, wood remains the sole sustenance for 2.5 billion people in this day and age.
I have often been complimented that I have a pretty name. It is easy on the mouth, gentle on the syllables and can be morphed into many nicknames by which people may claim their very own special identity of me. A name is not something I chose for myself. It is something that happened to me. It is a beautiful blessing that happened to me.
If I haven’t bored you already, please read this very thought-provoking  and well-written piece by Tasbeeh Herwees.
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“What does Converse with Kurti mean anyway?”

As a celebration of this blog’s anniversary, I’m going to try to explain why I chose the name Converse with Kurti.

Some cultural enlightenment is in order. A Kurti (pronounced koohr-tee) is an Indian traditional tunic, often decorated with colors and patterns and other ethnic symbols. Kurtis are often viewed as a diminutive or short-handed version of the salwar kameez, or churidar which come with their own scarves (color matched) and their own trousers/leg-wear (again, color-matched). The Kurti is a single shorter unit and is versatile at being paired. This has led to its increased popularity, especially with the college student demographic as it obeys the dress codes imposed at their institution and allows them to be flexible with their fashion. Ethnic patterns meeting skinny jeans was comfortably the last resort option when the comfort of a school uniform disappeared.

Growing up in a concrete jungle means that I obviously had a wider range of college-wear to choose from, but the Kurti remained a classical favorite. In my school, the only time that girls wore the Kurti was when they wanted to appear traditional or ethnic or even patriotic in some way. Wearing a modest Kurti would instantly earn you brownie points from the parents of your friends who may or may not draw unfair comparisons. Wearing a Kurti came to be understood as a symbol of chastity, the willingness to show that you were still bound to the heritage that you grew up with, even if you are equally comfortable flaunting Lees/Levis/American Apparel jeans under them. A kurti simply made people appear shy, feminine, mature, dressed up, modest and comparatively “more Indian” than anything else.

Combine that with the other contrasting brand image, as supported by Converse shoes. When you wear Converse shoes, your peers may or may not peg you to be that cool, low-maintenance girl who doesn’t care what people think but wears a fancy brand anyway, possibly even a gamer or a wannabe punk and almost certainly a tomboy. Your parents might either think you’re very childish (the thing has laces on it like a school-kid’s shoes) or practical (Well, at least she can walk in those) or unnecessarily an adolescent indulgence. (Why waste so much money on Converse when any other pair of sneakers can suffice?)

And what of the girl who wears both? What categories does she fit in? Is she destined to fit in at all? Which milieu of identities shall I claim as my own or is this haphazard mess of perspectives supposed to find a niche for itself?

I used to wear Converse with Kurtis to offset my femininity, to somehow provide a strong, if not equivalent representation to the sci-fi loving, dubstep-jamming punk that continues to code away. To me, it has evolved beyond a simple question of couture, but then what had/was I to become?

Searching for answers began this blog.