THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: What’s in a name, reads one of the famous quotes from Shakespeare. But the 30 odd people assembled at the Russian Cultural Centre will happily disagree.
Living with Russian names in Kerala, they have their own share of bittersweet memories and anecdotes, all related to their names. There are Lenins born on International Worker’s Day, Stalins from communist families and little Tanyas and Olgas.
“It’s the third get together of Malayalis with Russian names, the second one was held at Moscow, a village in Changanassery,” says Ratheesh C Nair, director of Russian Cultural Centre.
Kruschev, a retired government employee, says the biggest problem with his name is the difficulty in pronouncing it.
“There are people who call me whatever they want,” he laughs. “I am really proud of my name,” says Lenin, a researcher from Kerala University. “If the parents were willing to give us Russian names that show their understanding of the Russian culture and heritage,” he adds. There are a handful of Lenins and Stalins, most of them from a communist background. “I am Stalin, son of Vasudeva Pillai. I wasn’t happy with my name while growing up, but now I love my name, the name of a great Russian leader,” he says.
Pravda used to be the official newspaper of Soviet Russia and the word means truth. There are two Pravdas at the meet, both of them happy about their unusual name. “It was my father who named me Pravda, he was working at Libya then. It’s very exciting to have an uncommon name and I wanted a Russian name for my daughter when she was born,” she says pointing to her daughter Olga.
The other Pravda, a teacher, says she is remembered by most of her students and colleagues because of her name. “It gave me an identity. Even my husband says my name is an important factor that led to our marriage,” she smiles.
Pushkin, who works at Indian Overseas Bank, says he is quite happy with his unique name. “My parents were teachers and pro-communists. They named me Pushkin and so far I am the only Pushkin I know. The only problem with it is that people tend to address me Pushpan and Puskaran,” he laughs.
He adds that he couldn’t do what his father did in 1950s. “I could have named my daughters Natasha Pushkin and Nikita Pushkin, but I settled for some ordinary Malayali names,” he says.