Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What’s In a Name?

*I did have some neat pictures to go with this but the bastards aren’t uploading.

During my Christmas vacation I ran into 4 people with the same name as me. Now my name is not Jim, John, Raju, Sunil, or Mohammed. I like to think I have a pretty unique name and I have never found myself in the presence of 4 other Avinash’s. And to be honest with you, I did not like it. Not only did I almost sprain my neck twisting and turning in response to MY name being called out, but none of the people addressing ME even knew who I was!!!

You see I was attending a friend’s wedding hosted at the Conrad Hotel in Bali. Now with almost 200 Indians packed into this one space, people do tend to call out to one another across large area’s and even over the loudspeaker during wedding receptions. I have been to numerous such occasions but I have never run into a pack such as this before. It was not until 3 days into the ceremonies that I realized just how many Avinash’s there were running around the damn hotel.

To make it all worse, at one occasion I heard the sensuous voice of a woman call out over the DJ’s music for the presence of Cuzin Avi at the main booth. Now we all know that’s what my mates call me. As I strolled over I was confronted with a stunning vision of beauty so I leaned into her ear and whispered, “You called for me”. Without warning she retorted, “Who the fuck are you”?!

My world was spinning and I felt like a genetic copy of myself. All around me I could hear strangers calling my name but none of them wearing smiles. I was being sucked into a black hole of anonymity. The air was thin and sweat beaded on my forehead. I could not breathe! That’s when it came to me. It was a revelation which can bear comparison to that of the honorable Malcolm X. It could only have been a few seconds but I felt as if I had been on a transcendental plain for at least an hour. I was floating through empty space. I could hear the cry of a lone wolf in the darkness. Bright pinholes of light began to appear all around me and I was coated in their luminescent glow. They began to swirl around my body and rushed out to form a string of letters before my eyes. As she stood there waiting for my response I answered saying the words I had read, “Bismilah Zakhir Ustad Ali Khan Bin Jackson”.

I do not need to cover my body in tattoos or perforate my face with metal studs in order to feel unique. I just do not like being in the same room with 4 other guys who have the same name as me. But seriously, what is in a name anyways? I realize that my name does in any way encompass who I am but in some way I feel that the name has adopted my definition. It is like that with many people. When I hear a friends name I tend to think of their characters and I associate and events and even emotions with their names. To ME that name is no longer a label but it has come to hold a characterization of its own created by the person who bears it. For example, if you read the following letters, EINSTEIN, I am sure the same thought comes to all our minds. Now if you came across a fellow with the same name you would possibly and unconsciously look for similarities to the scientist Albert Einstein. Basically, that name Einstein has come to hold some meaning of its own, as have the names Adolph, Mozart, or Dali.

In the Sindhi (Hindu) tradition, after a woman is married to a man she usually has to change her name, not only her family name as in Western cultures but also her first name, to a name starting with a letter that is selected by the priest to be auspicious. I have wondered many times if I could do that and I have now come to the conclusion that I could not. I know that spiritually one should detach them self from ones physical self and here I am attached to my name. A simple label as it seems. But I don’t really have any spiritual goals right now so I could not really give a shit about that aspect anyways. All I can really testify to is how I really feel no matter how stupid it may seem…

So hear me now, from this day forth I wish to be addressed as Bismilah Zakhir Ustad Ali Khan Bin Jackson.

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