MD 21 : What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.” – Juliet said.

Shakespeare was right! What’s in a name? I am sure I would have been just the same whacky, senseless moron – a pro at making largely pointless conversations – had my name been Rob or Harry or Sukhwinder or Ramanujan or Arunabha or George for all I care.

My mother considers such thoughts almost blasphemous! As per tradition in my family, my name was chosen based on a Yagna (or holy ceremony) that was conducted. Two names – Arindam & Angshuman were the top contenders (I have no idea how), and the purohit (the saint) based on the knowledge and divine power bestowed on him had suggested that Arindam was to be luckier for me – and hence I was chosen to be named Arindam.

If you think that sounds crazy, please join in! You will not be the only one, I tell you!

Anyway, my name gets me into trouble many times.. For starters, the Western world somehow cannot pronounce it too well. I have had to shorten my name to – Ari, whenever I travel to US or other western countries, and have had the fortune (or misfortune) of being called Harry throughout a client discussion (Harry is phonetically similar to Ari, and sounds more of a name to the Western world).

I have been asked – hey, what kind of a name is Ari. Do you know what it means?

Yes, I know the meaning of my name Arindam. I am not sure if Sally or Susan or George or Jack – all have a meaning associated – but my name has. And it was a conversation regarding my name that had got me into trouble in my first job interview.

So, here we go folks – Brace up!


We were in third year in Engineering College. I was studying in Delhi College of Engineering (DCE). Towards the end of the third year, companies would visit our campuses and start offering jobs that we could join after completing fourth year in college.

That day, one of India’s premier IT company, was visiting our campuses. I had gone through the written test, and the interview was at 2 PM. About 50 of us had been selected for the interview.

 “Arindam” – the attendant shouted out my name.

 I entered the interview room. A beautiful lady in a blue saari, and a gentleman in a suit sat on the other side of the table. The gentleman was bald and sported a big moustache. He was leaning over with the “Come in, silly boy.. come to the lion’s den” sort of look! I decided to look away and focus on the beautiful lady – the lady from HR.

ME: Good morning

HR: Good morning, Arindam.. I am Radhika from HR. This is Rohan from the Projects team. Please sit down.

ME: Thanks.

HR: So, how are you doing today?

ME: Great, thank you. How about you?

MB: Good, Arindam – that’s an interesting name…

Interesting is an interesting word that denotes NEUTRAL emotions! It’s a great conversation starter, but in this situation – I could not figure out whether she found the name good, or bad or ugly!

ME: (Smiles)

HR: So, what does it mean?

ME: Well, Arindam is formed by joining two words – Ari and Daman together. Ari means enemies and daman means winning over. So, my name effectively means “The One who Wins over ENEMIES” (I said confidently putting extra stress on ENEMIES)

HR: Ooooh! Really! So, how many enemies have you won over?

I thought for a moment, wondering where this conversation would lead.. Is this a trick question? I was not sure, I decided to play along, for now.

ME: Well, I think several of them..

HR: Ok, so, you seem to be good at winning over enemies, then? Do you follow some strategy?

I did not have a good feeling about this. I had prepared for technical interview, and this HR person was asking me questions about my name – which made no sense. I looked at Mr. Angry Man. His eyebrows were furrowed, and his gaze was fixed on me… almost like – “We have got you now, my son!”

HR : Arindam?

ME: Yeah, yeah… I mean, I think I am good with defining a plan of action, getting things done – so in a group, I tend to run away with the attention sometimes. I think that makes some people NOT like me so much!

HR: So, you are an attention seeker!

Why? Why? Why? This interview was going down the drain… I felt uncomfortable seated in the chair…

ME: Nothing like that! I think circumstances turn out such that I sometimes have enemies.

HR: Don’t you think that is strange Arindam? People usually have lots of friends, you seem to be making several enemies.

Stumped! Screwed!! Now what? This conversation was going nowhere.. I looked at Miss Beauty – she was intently waiting for a response. Mr. Angry Man was giving the “Got you now!” smile.

ME: Well… I guess.. I mean.. U know.. (my stuttering, stammering from pre-Anushka days had returned…)

I don’t think I had an answer. Radhika – aka Miss Beauty – was scribbling away some notes. Mr. Angry Man interjected with a technical question – “So, do you know any programming language?”

Thankfully, the ordeal seemed over!

I have thought about this sequence of questions over and over ever since that day! Do you think I could have handled the questions differently?

And yes, have you had to explain the “meaning of your name” ever?


4 thoughts on “MD 21 : What’s in a name?

  1. interviews do get tricky at times. you did very well though.
    and i think this was a lesson that looks can be decieving. Mr Angry man (who you at first sort of did not like) rescued you… 🙂

    • Absolutely, I really thought that the Angry Man was gonna eat me up when I entered the interview room. He was sure my savior for the day!

      Thank you for visiting amira. I appreciate it 🙂

  2. Hello Arindam, the One who wins over enemies. My given name is Deborah after the Hebrew judge and prophetess. It means Bee. What it means really . . . to me? It’s a name that everyone wants to shorten to Debbie. A name I strongly dislike. So, my problem isn’t explaining what it means, but getting people to use it or Dee (the nickname I prefer). Names are such funny things.

    I like the meaning of your name and that your mother took such trouble to find it. Besides, I think there is something to the meaning and how you disarm people with your humor . . . in a sense, turning enemies to friends.

    • Disarm people with humor – phew!! Yeah, that;s a good one.. maybe that’s what i should have answered in the interview as well…

      I like Dee too.. short and sweet, the sort of names I like… 🙂

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