What’s in a Name? Plenty.

Yep it’s a long name and it’s fine if you don’t quite get it first time

Suchandrika Chakrabarti
Published in
4 min readJun 25, 2019


Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

SSending me out into the world with the name Suchandrika Tia Chakrabarti was a bold move by my parents. It’s a gift, on many levels. For one, it makes every introduction to a new person a chance for me to get the measure of them. Occasionally, just a Suchandrika Chakrabarti, or even just a Suchandrika (Sue-CHAN-drick-ah), is too much, too long, too unusual to even be tried out. It’s tossed away with, “Got a nickname?” Sure, try Suki, even though my official nickname’s Tia — but that’s a whole other thing we’ll get into, later.

I’m careful not to share a nickname too quickly, though. There are those who get offended by me offering up a shorter version of my name too soon. No, they want to wrestle with Suchandrika, curl the tongue around the vowels, change the satisfying “ch” into a hard “k,” swap out the “d” for a “t,” show this exotic, disobedient collection of letters who’s boss.

Occasionally, just a ‘Suchandrika Chakrabarti’, or even just a ‘Suchandrika’, is too much, too long, too unusual to even be tried out. It’s tossed away with, “Got a nickname?”

“Is it Sri Lankan?” It is not. How fun that you tried to guess, though, like you’re figuring out what species of butterfly you have pinned to the table. Then there was the time that someone assumed my religion over the phone. He thought he could read my beliefs from my syllables. He was wrong.

The introduction becomes a power play and, apparently, I’ve turned up with an advantage, but you will manage to categorize me, you will, and you won’t notice that I’ve been reading you the whole time. I’ve filed you away, somewhere towards the back of my mind.

OOnce, when I was young and on work experience, I had to call up members of the British National Party, a far-right political group that used to advocate forced “repatriation” of non-White people, until dropping the policy in 2001. Just five years later, I was tasked with calling a number of their representatives up. I decided that my name would get in the way of the story. I rang the numbers and introduced myself as ‘Sue’.