Who's on the Overbridge?

Welcome O friend! or someone I hope will soon become one.

You may already know me well – in which case, most of what is written below may be familiar to you. Or maybe you know me, but not that well – in which case, at least some of what is written below will be new to you. Or then maybe you don’t know me at all – in which case, I do hope what is on this page will go at least a small way in setting a context for what you will likely find on this site.

Be warned, this page is quite long; and you are free to exit and browse other parts of the site right now. But it may help in some small way, by spending a few minutes here.

Coming from a typical middle class family in Ernakulam, Kerala - that beautiful state at the south-western tip of India, I guess I spent my childhood as most contemporary middle class Malayali boys back then:

  • reading Baalarama, Poompaata and Amar Chithra Katha,
  • listening to Yesudas' songs initially on All India Radio and then on the prized tape recorder,
  • biting nails listening to Narottam Puri's cricket commentary again on radio,
  • worshipping Kapil and his world conquering devils,
  • not missing a single edition of Sportstar/Sportsweek,
  • being excited at seeing a television in a neighbour's house during the LA Olympics of '84,
  • finally getting our own TV set a few years later and eagerly awaiting the serials and Chitrahaar on Doordarshan,
  • spending 10 paise on bus tickets (ST, Student's Ticket!) regardless of distance traveled,
  • going through the pressure cooker of entrance examination coaching with either a medical or engineering career as the only options available, and
  • disappointed at not getting the branch of my dreams for engineering, but somehow ending up as an IT consultant in one of the main Indian software powerhouses..

OK, the last bit may have been a slight exaggeration and maybe even a wee bit sarcastic, for it is not all who end up as IT consultants, but around 90% would be a safe guess!

I used to go by the name of Dinu T Poulose (T for Tholath) till my 25th year. Once I turned that magic age, I finally decided that I had to do something about the name I was known by till then. Why? Because, I was kind of at my wits end with having to repeat and spell out my name to almost anyone who asked.

Vinu? Tinu? Binu? Jinu?

No, sir. It is Dinu. With a D. D as in Delhi. D as in Denmark. D I N U. Dinu.

The moment I got my first appointment letter, I decided that I did not want to go through the same embarrassment at my workplace. I made a promise that I would start my official life with an easy-to-understand and easy-to-spell name. And since I had the luxury of almost a year before I had to join, it gave me ample time to go to Trivandrum and get it published in the Government Gazette; which I did at the earliest opportunity. It was that simple – the renaming of Dinu T Poulose to Paul Joseph.

Come to think of it, it is not everyone who has the good fortune of being able to select your own name, right? Is it worth a thought then, at this juncture, to give each child this freedom? I stand on very slippery slope with that thought, and I would rather not take any arguments at this stage!

But why Paul Joseph? Well quite simple, really. The Christian tradition in Kerala has it that the first boy in a family ought to be named after his paternal grandfather. Now my grandfather was Ittoop. And immediately, that posed some problems to someone who had struggled his entire life with Dinu! Suffice to say that it didn’t go down well in the mind of an already embarrassed young man. I realize now that I was probably looking for something more western! But not to worry, there was always a way out – someone enlightened me that Ittoop was a variant of Uthup, which was in fact the Malayalam version of Joseph! So I was entitled to choose Joseph instead of Ittoop. And then my father was Poulose – again I took the liberty of modifying it slightly to its anglicised version, Paul. The only question then was, Joseph Paul or Paul Joseph? I could not decide. So, I took the easy way out and gave my wife-to-be a call. Would you like your husband to be called Joseph Paul or Paul Joseph? Well, she didn’t take too long to decide and that then is the how and why of Dinu becoming Paul Joseph. So, as an aside, isn’t it interesting that my wife got to choose not only her husband, but also his name?!

Looking back now, any regrets at this name changing life event? If I were to answer sincerely, I would have to say, Yes, a slight disappointment. If I were to make a choice now, I would have probably gone for Paul Ittoop! And maybe, it is not too late to take one more trip to Trivandrum, after all! The other question I am often asked is, How did my parents take it? The fact that I wanted to change the name that they had given me. Well, it was actually not so bad, because it was not my parents, but my grandmother who actually gave me my name! And I believe she never really grasped the fact that I had gone ahead and changed it!

But Dinu as a name, I love it. I love the sound. I love it when somebody calls me that. Especially when it is in an endearing fashion as Dinukutta or Dinumon! Which is also why, to my parents, to my family, to anyone who knows me in any personal capacity, I am still Dinu!

Complicated? Well, unfortunately, that’s life! What’s in a name, anyway?!

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Comments (4)

Ashok P says...

I cant imagine you by any other name

Sara V says...

Some great thoughts, Dinu. As someone had suggested on one of the posts, looking forward to a collection of these thoughts as a book Here's wishing you a Happy new Year and wishing you all the best...

Raju P says...

Keep writing, Dinukutta!

John S says...

I remember the name changing episode well. it's time to change once more!