Name mangling

No, this post is not about the name mangling that programming language compilers do. This is about a much more profound occurrence.


On April 30, 1981, a young man named his new-born son after the West Indian pace bowler Malcolm Marshall. That young man was my father; the new-born turned out to be yours truly.

I wonder if my father hoped to unearth in me a tearaway pace bowler, teeming as the Indian cricket team was in those times, with amblers like Roger Binny and Madan Lal, that even Kapil Dev was considered a quickie. No pun intended. I figure Carvalho Sr. must have realized how misplaced that aspiration was by the time I entered my teens. Let’s just say I ‘bowled’ at a pace that would have made Rajesh Chauhan appear medium fast and Venkatesh Prasad look express quick. If you don’t remember, or worse don’t know, who Chauhan or Prasad are, please write in to Saqlain Mushtaq or Aamir Sohail respectively, for details.

I digress. So letting down a nation’s fast bowling expectations was still okay. Till I left school, Malcolm was pronounced just the way it is. If you don’t know how that sounds, stop reading further and google it right now. There was the occasional Hindi teacher who would call me Mohammed, or even Makarand. That though was just the beginning of the twisting my name would be subject to. Entering college, my name was put through the wringer with all permutations applied to the two syllables that make it up. Mal-column was one, Maal-kum was another. Add to it my surname Carvalho and you get maal kum carvalho. It did not help that I was emaciated enough to justify the epithet. Sometime after graduating, I discovered the European pronunciation of my surname, and would proudly tell people how Carvalho was to be said as Carvaliyo. Well, as you can expect, as I now do in hindsight, this did not better things. Maal-kum-carvaliyo sounds just like the past tense of Maal-kum-carvalho.

I then thought of avoiding my full name altogether and using just my initials to sign off emails. Yours truly, MC. Some readers thought this was short for M@darch0d and directed all subsequent emails from me to their Spam folder. The more puritanical ones clicked on Report Abuse.

Perhaps I should have had a more common name. Like Prem. Prem as in the Rajshri movies. But then, Prem could also mean Prem Chopra. Or, what if I had been named like one of these guys here? Maybe I should just be thankful for small mercies.


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