Friday, March 28, 2014

My name is 'Aan-ta-rik Un-way-shun'

My name is Antarik Anwesan. Now wait, what? Antariksh? Space?

“No! Say it as Aan-ta-rik Un-way-shun”, I would reply to almost each and every person who would hear my name for the first time. I don’t seem to recall a moment when somebody got my name right the very first time they heard it. I have almost always repeated it at least twice and have given up on getting the pronunciation right. Hardly anyone gets it.


So yeah, the name. There is a lot in a name. I don’t know what my father was thinking or what libraries he consulted when he devised such an unusual name for his son. He robbed me of his surname. And as I have grown up I have taken pride in not having a surname. It sets me apart from the entire world! Yeah, Anwesan is not my surname!


Last year when I joined Jamia for my Master’s, a classmate asked me after a few weeks- Are you Christian? ‘No!’ I laughed, “Are you confused and not able to make out my religion from my name?” I was happy. Not many people understand that my name has a pure Sanskrit root.

I have some weird and funny recollections relating to my name. The first one dates back to the time I was in Class 6. My Chemistry teacher would shout many times ‘Aantrik! Aantrik!’ And thus came about the first times when Aantrik…Aantrik…Aantrik… became ‘tantrik…tantrik…tantrik’! I never did mind then, nor I do now, when somebody in class mentions the term.

Then in Class 11 when I came to Delhi, and to a completely Hindi and English speaking crowd, the ‘a’ in the middle of ‘Antarik’ seemed to vanish forever. Antarik became Antrik. And it continues till date. Friends, teachers, colleagues at work during internships, everyone. I accept it because Hindi and Sanskrit differ a lot in the pronunciation of the very same word. While Sanskrit focuses on each and every letter and sound in a word, Hindi chooses to ignore some- specifically the last sound of every syllable. So, the Sanskrit word ‘baalaka’ (boy) becomes ‘baalak’ in Hindi, and so on. This also explains why people with a hindi-mother tongue rarely speak Sanskrit with the right pronunciation.

My mother tongue is Odia. And so is my father’s. So when he was naming me, I presume he combined Sanskrit and Odia and came up with the spelling as it would be right in Odia (and to most extent in Sanskrit).

So when I was in Class 11, one of my classmates couldn’t get my name on repeated efforts and ultimately came up with the derived name ‘Space’ for me. Although I would have approved of getting my name right, but I was okay. I had a new nickname!

Sometimes (and these are rare times) I come across some ‘intellectual beings’ who actually understand the meaning of the name. In Sanskrit and in Hindi and in Odia and I am sure in almost all the hundreds of Indian languages and dialects derived from Sanskrit, Antarik means ‘internal’ and Anwesan means ‘discovery or research’.

That reminds me of an ‘intellectual being’ experience. It was back in July 2010 during my counseling session for admissions into BJ(MC). My name was announced correctly after the man struggled reading it out from the form a couple of times. Instead of going ahead with the busy counseling session, the group of 3 or 4 senior professors of the university started a deliberation on my name.

“You have a really good name. Who named you?” My father Sir.

“Do you know what it means?” Yes Sir. Antarik is internal and Anwesan is research.

“Good. So do you indulge in ‘internal research’?” he laughed. “This man here, he is a Hindi professor, he will tell you what your name means.”

“Internal research is fine. But the word ‘introspection’ is better. It explains your name in a very simple and elegant way,” the Hindi professor told me. I smiled.

Well, yeah, that’s an unusual meaning to an unusual name. It’s unique. It’s good to know that just one person in the entire world has this name. Google surprises me with all the unique and absolutely ‘me’ results when I type my name in the search bar. I like it.

You never know, someday people might associate this unique name with some famous introspective person who lives up to what his name says! Haha… but until then, check the title of this post and make sure the next time you speak to me you speak/spell my name right ;)

PS: Read about other bloggers' names and meanings associated with them. Get IndiSpired. Click here
PPS: Since we are talking of names, go and find out how Kalki Koechlin pronounces her name and why all of us say it wrong. (It is not Ko-ech-leen or any of its variants!)

19 comments :

  1. I am delighted to read this. The fact is I did not do any research or consult any book to find out this name for you. It just occurred to me spontaneously in a matter of moments. Probably God wished I tag you with this name. So do not get perturbed by day to day happenings. God has some great "project" in His mind for you. Get blessed.

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  2. Hey..awesome post Antarik.. and its good to know the meaning as well ..

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    1. And if I am to guess, does Agnibanya mean 'Flood of fire' or something on those lines?

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  3. Great to find a fellow Odia here that too with such an unusual name. Great info here. Kudos to your father :)

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  4. Antarikshya means vision from mahasnya, the space Antarik means Almighty aneswan means Khonj, Quest. Your name shall compel you to communicate to almighty and that is the wish of your elders and your great parents. You may feel the lucky eternal bliss one day.

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    1. That's a good way to explain it. Thanks Pradip for the read, analysis and comment :)

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  5. This was fun to read, I remember how by aunts will pronounce my name with an O sound as...Ootul (my mom's bengali) and how all the New Zealanders and Māori 's will call me A tul, as they can't pronouns hindi sound of T... My wife Akanksha ended up giving diction lesson to each person she met in NZ on how to prononunce her name,..It was fun though, nice anecdotes’...

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    1. Hahaha...it seems we Indians do have unique names, almost tongue-twisters for outsiders. The same might go for them as well- say, the people with various accents of English would pronounce the same name in very slightly, but surely, different ways! :D

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  6. Haha I always thought it's pronounced as Un-ta-rik Aan-way-shun
    Good to know it's the other way

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    1. I won't deny that it is a mistake people have made many times :D

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  7. Hey! Didnt know Anwesan isnt your surname but second part of your name!

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  8. haha! nice.. i cud so relate to it. I get so worried when my name has been called on stage, whether the speaker will take it right or not that i shall not become the butt of jokes etc etc. To be frank I get really irritated and angry when someone takes it wrong even after telling how it is pronounced.
    Nonetheless, I thought your name was an-taa-rik, good I didn't have to face the embarrassment of calling you that since I heard how to pronounce it when you were introducing yourself to someone else! :D

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