Monday, January 28, 2013

Naming Them

Bhutanese are getting more resourceful when it comes to naming; be it a person’s name or a name for their business entities.  In the eighties and early nineties there used to be a shop by the name “New Ideas”, located at the heart of Phuentsholing town.  Lots of criticisms were directed at it, accusing it of not conforming to the traditional name.  To this effect an article even appeared in the opinion column of kuensel. 
But today the trend seems to have changed drastically.  People are getting lots of “new ideas” and they are getting more imaginative by the day, when it comes to naming.  One noticeable change is in the moniker of people, which are getting complicated and some of them even sounding like tongue twisters.
A friend told me that he tried that stunt with his youngest son.  I don’t remember the first two names but the last name that he gave his son was “Khikchung”.  He thought everything was alright till he heard his other two elder sons lovingly and innocently calling their younger sibling “Khinchung”!  Then on he gave up the idea and changed his son’s name for good.
I must confess that my name is a bit ‘different’, meaning, not many people own the same name.  I would dread the moment every time I was asked my name.  Usually I would have to say it twice, for they did not register it the first time.  I would also draw a lot of meaningful and nasty looks.  Friends would have a field day mocking at my name.  With a bit of twist in their tongues they would make it sound funny and even derogatory!  Recently I met a lady for some work.  We got to introducing each other and when it came to mine I was a bit hesitant about telling her my name and told her so.  She did not blink an eyelid and said that having a different and unique name is in vogue today. 
Some weeks back a photograph of a sign board of a hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar was doing the rounds on the walls of facebook users.  The sign board read “Pholangkatang Hotel…” literally meaning “big stomach hotel” or “potbelly hotel” or a hotel for the big bellied.  I don’t really know whether it was meant to entice customers to eat as much as they can at normal price or it is a hint that the hotel was for the gluttons only. 
On my recent visit to my village in Pema Gatshel, I came across a few interesting names that are worth a mention here.  Two business entities had the same name; one read “Gortab Cement Agency” and the other read “Gortab Hotel”.  Gortab in Sharchokp means road turning or a “turn in the road”.  May be their locations in relation to the road have something to do with their names.
Then I saw the name “Perga Toka” neatly painted on the sides of a truck plying between Samdrup Jongkhar and Pema Gatshel.  Perga Toka means steel ox.  I like the ingenuity of the owner for coming up with the name, though I feel it is a misnomer actually.  “Perga Kurta”, meaning steel horse would have been a suitable name, keeping in mind the amount of load that these trucks ferry each day.
There is an automobile workshop by the name “Joktang Workshop” in Gelephu.  Joktang is potato in Scharchopk.  I do not know the connection between a potato and an automobile, but it draws a lot of attention from people, which serves its purpose.  After all "What's in a name?..."


  1. nice names... I have friends with weird names which I found difficult to pronounce one gets use to them as time goes by....hehe
    The name "Pholang Katang Hotel" I heard was named by Garab Rinpoche when the proprietor approached Rimpoche for a name...

    1. Then it's not surprising. Rimpoche is well known for such stunts...

  2. Nice write-up. Infact naming in a bit unique way is a trend observed in every societies. For example, in Bangladesh previously people used to have names based on Islamic traditions common to Arab Countries. Now a days, people are more willing to name their children reflecting Bangali Culture and traditions. My son name is Kabbo (Bangla word) meaning Poetry and my daughter name is Rupkotha (Bangla word) meaning Fairy Tales. Good to know your thoughts on this. Can't agree more with your last opinion when you wrote..""What's in a name?..."

    1. I do agree sir, I mean the changing trends in naming and now I realise that it is a global trend too. By the way how are "poetry" and "Fairy Tale"?

    2. I do agree sir, I mean the changing trends in naming and now I realise that it is a global trend too. By the way how are "poetry" and "Fairy Tale"?