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Fun Time: Think Twice Before Changing Your Name

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
November 2023
Fun Time: Think Twice Before Changing Your Name

If you are considering changing your name, I have some advice for you: don’t.

Changing your name can be very confusing to everyone. Just look at Twitter. The company’s owner, Elon Musk, decided that Twitter wasn’t a good enough name, so he changed it to X.

Just imagine that your name is Bono. You’re a famous singer and everyone has known you as Bono for many years. Then one day, you decide that Bono isn’t good enough, so you change your name to Bonehead. That’s basically what Musk did. He took a perfectly good name and made it far worse.

It’s almost like Musk has played a big joke on everyone. Nobody knows what to do with ‘X.’ Media outlets are referring to it as “the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.” Some users are calling it Xitter and saying that they’ll keep Xeeting. Others are demanding that Musk’s head be Xamined.

Everyone will eventually get used to X, of course. And then Musk will change it to Y.

I’m not fond of name changes, as you can guess. It isn’t easy for me to just replace the old name in my brain with the new name. I don’t have a “find and replace” key.

It’s especially hard for me when a city or country changes its name. It took me a long time to get used to names like Mumbai and Chennai. I liked the names Bombay and Madras. I especially liked shouting “Bombay” on planes. It made people disembark a little faster.

I understood why names connected to the colonial era were being phased out. But why weren’t the names just altered slightly? Bombay could have become Mombay. And Madras could have become Dadras.

Perhaps we can learn a lesson from the country formerly known as Turkey. Turkey is now known officially as Turkiye. It’s a small change that allows the country to distinguish itself from a large bird.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about India potentially changing its name to Bharat. It all started with President Droupadi Murmu calling herself “President of Bharat” in a G20 dinner invitation.

Supporters of a name change associate the name India with the British, but historians say that the name goes back many centuries, just like Bharat. I’m not in favor of a name change, partly because India is wellknown and easy to pronounce. I don’t want to have conversations like this:

Guy in elevator: “Where are you from?”

Me: “Bharat.”

Elevator guy: “Where is that?” Me: “Between Pakistan and Bangladesh.”

Elevator: “Oh yes, the country formerly known as India.”

It’s much easier for people to change their names, and many of them do for various reasons. Some just don’t like the names that their parents gave them. This is understandable, especially if your parents happen to be Elon Musk and Grimes. Musk and the singer have three children: a son named Techno Mechanicus, or “Tau” for short, another son named X Æ A-Xii, whom they call “X,” and a daughter named Exa Dark Sideræl, whom they call “Y.” Don’t be surprised if “X” changes his name when he grows up, switching it officially to “Twitter.”

I have to confess that I’ve changed my name, too. My parents didn’t name me “Melvin.” They named me “Melwin.” I should have been happy to have a “win” in my name, but my schoolteachers were always confused about the spelling. When I was in my midteens, I caught a lucky break: someone at the Indian passport office misspelled my name. They printed it as “Melvin”—and I’ve gone with it ever since, thankful that a kind soul at the passport office was looking out for me.

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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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