What’s in a name?

I am seriously thinking of changing the name of L&M to R-C., not retirement community, but Reference to Context. Whenever I start telling him something, I have to first preface it all with a short reference to context about the person/place/thing. Sometimes this becomes so complicated that by the time I have brought him up to the subject, I have forgotten what I want to say! For instance, if I wanted to tell him about the awesome bike trip of Deepak and I begin my tale, he would look blankly at me. Shrugging, I would say, ‘Deepak, who worked in Air India, remember?’ The cloud would still be there and so I would take a deeeeeep breath and add, ‘Deepak who worked in Air India and now rides a Bullet, remember?’ Light would finally dawn on his face and he would say, ‘So tell me, what happened?’ 

You guessed it. It would be my turn to look blank, because the thread of my thoughts had broken somewhere between Air India and bike rides!

Sharing this old post about his habit of forgetting names and mixing them up to come up with some hilarious and some  embarrassing situations — today when the L&M celebrates his birthday and continues being as terrible at remembering names as he had been….well….always 🙂 

No wonder Shakespeare asked, ‘What’s in a name?’ He had not met the L&M you see!


Who doesn’t forget names and faces? We all have had momentary amnesia and sometimes mix-up names too. But the L&M is in a league of his own – rather, he is a league in himself.

He has a phenomenal memory for places – he would remember the landmarks, the trees, even the colour of the gate of the particular house. But ask him the name of the street or even locality, and he would be hopelessly lost. Actually I prefer his being lost to his coming up with ‘equivalents’ when trying to recall a particular name.

He uses a very complicated method of phonetics, word association and experiences and no, he doesn’t remember the name, but still manages to come up with a wrong one or no name at all. I must confess though that he is a storehouse of knowledge and many a time it is akin to being in the hot seat of KBC when he is trying to remember a name, so many tidbits of information will he share!

Sample this as he tries to remember the town he had visited on his trip to Ajmer:

“You know the city near Ajmer where annual cattle fairs are held and is chock-ful of temples? It has the only Brahma temple….”

If you have not come up with the name of the city (Pushkar) after so much info, it is your fault for being ignorant, not his for forgetting the name!

Let me illustrate the association factor:

We had recently shifted to Delhi and were looking up schools for the brats. The L&M told me about two schools which were adjacent to each other in West Delhi and which looked pretty promising. We decided that we should ask a couple of friends or acquaintances about them before deciding. The problem was that since I had not seen them, I didn’t know their names and the L&M as usual remembered only the location and other details. We of course could have gone to the location but were far from the place at that moment.

Suddenly the L&M spotted a West Delhi acquaintance, across the road. He  jumped out of the auto rickshaw and crossed over to accost the unsuspecting victim. An animated conversation ensued, with much wild gesticulating.  Even from the distance I could see that the L&M had fallen prey to one of his memory lapses. I jumped out to rescue the poor target.

“The school is right near the signal of the power station chowk. There is another school next to it,” he was saying when I neared the pair.

“Don’t you remember the name of the other school?” asked the friend piteously.

“Oh yes! It is the Mudra Rakshas High school!” the L&M told the nonplussed man with a beaming smile to have ‘remembered’ the name at last.

“Mudra-Rakshas? You must be mistaken, sir. I have lived in that area for years and haven’t heard of any such school.”

“Hmmmph,” snorted the L&M clearly unimpressed by the man’s ignorance.

Stung by the tone, the man tried to remember which Rakshas’ face he had seen that morning when he woke up, to be in such a predicament! Then his face cleared.

“There is a Maharaja Agrasen High School near the signal you are talking about,” he said a little doubtfully since there was no connection whatsoever between the two names!

“Ah, yes! That’s it!” laughed the L&M triumphantly; as if he had said the name right all along and it had been the other fellow who had misunderstood it!!

Now tell me what connection there is between Agrasen and Mudrarakshas? Had Vishkha Datta known that some man with a penchant for mixing up names would do this to his historical Sanskrit play, I am sure he would never have written it!

But wait. I am being unfair to the L&M. Look at his knowledge and the complicated associations his mind had come up with: the school was named after a Maharaja. And kings have ministers, don’t they? Well, Rakshasa was a minister too and so had some connection to Maharaja, right? If the ignorant friend of his had no clue of history or literature, it wasn’t the fault of the L&M, was it?

And then the names of films. He couldn’t remember them to save his life.

Once he called up the older boy at college: “Have you seen Challan?” he asked.

Now, the poor boy, who had just got his bike after much pleading, begging and wheedling, bristled, “Of course not! I hardly ride it outside the campus!” You need to read Driving us crazy if you don’t know this story.

“No, no. I am asking about the film Challan in which Amir Khan leads a group of villagers in a cricket match,” explained the L&M patiently.

“Appa, that’s not Challan, for heaven’s sake! It is Lagaan,” burst out the boy. (Yes, I could hear his voice from the other end of the phone even across the room!)

“Oh, but what difference does it make? They both mean the same thing, don’t they?” said L&M nonchalantly as if it was the perfectly natural thing in the world to mix up the words.

On another occasion, he was to take the younger brat to see a Govinda film. “I have booked tickets for the evening show of Ganga Nahata Hai.”


“Arre yaar, you told me you wanted to see this movie, remember?” he said helpfully albeit a little impatiently.

After much head scratching we found out that he meant the film Jis Desh mein Ganga rehta hai!

Except for the name Ganga, and hai, no other word had anything to do with the name of the film! In his mind the association must probably have been that Ganga meant a bath!! So it was Ganga nahata hai! Who are we, the lesser mortals to argue with the logic of L&M?

Then the other day I asked him to get my eye drops. “Shall I write the name down?” I asked.

“I will remember, don’t worry,” he said in a huff. I hastily crossed my fingers and toes.

My neighbour’s daughter who was in the medical shop at that time the L&M went there, narrated this conversation later:

L&M : Give me Bigjam.

Shopkeeper (sarcastically): Sir, you have to go to the textile showroom for suit-pieces.” (Digjam suiting)

L&M (with exaggerated politeness): I know this is not a suit shop. I asked for Bigjam eye drops, the one used for glaucoma, if you please!”

The salesman called his pharmacist, who, having never heard the name, flicked through his database to find out if they had the said eye drops. When he couldn’t find it there, he opened the materia medica but came up with naught. He quickly noted the name down, flushing to be caught out without some new medication in his inventory.

The L&M then surreptitiously texted me to get the name.

“How long do I have to wait for the Combigan eye drops?” he asked with righteous indignation without batting an eyelid after he got my reply. The salesmen who had just straightened up from all the labour of searching for Bigjam protested that that was not the name he had said not a minute ago!

“Theek hai, theek hai, sunne mein galti ho jati hai (it’s ok, sometimes one mishears the words),” the L&M dismissed his protestations magnanimously, making a hasty exit with the medicine.

Note the association: both combigan and bigjam have M, G, I and B and the second syllables are phonetically similar!

The girl couldn’t stop laughing her guts out as she narrated the episode. I knew that this was going to become the colony lore within the hour. J

A colleague of his once told us about an important meeting with the MD of their client company. The discussion was a little heated and the L&M was arguing his case passionately: “Look, Mr. Babloopadhyay, we will try to fulfill all the conditions, provided…” The person so addressed turned a deep shade of red; the L&M pressed on, “Mr.Babloopa…..” He looked in alarm at the man turning purple by now. L&M was concerned. Was he so upset with the pricing that he was having a heart attack?

But it was the L&M who almost cried out in pain as his colleague kicked his shin.

What would you have done had your boss addresses an important client as Babloopadhyay instead of Bandopadhyay? The same colleague recounted that at another meeting the L&M addressed a Mr.Rastogi as Mr.Matargasti!! (A very natural mix-up probably because both names had the sound ‘st’ in them!)

I never found out if the deals were closed on those two occasions! All I knew is that the colleague demanded and got a transfer to another department under another boss with a better memory for names!

Mr. Shakespeare , you have your answer now, don’t you?

Homepage image: www.andion.co


  1. I’m holding my sides and groaning now because I laughed so much!!! Babloopadhyay and Ganga Nahata hain!!! How fantastic it would be to be an eavesdropper in his conversations!!


    1. Oh but you need me to interpret his eccentricities! Without me you’d be clueless as to what he is mixing up with what 😀


  2. At last I started reading this post today. It is here for the past more than a week, I think!

    The first paragraph itself caught my attention…these all my dialogues. Husband always draw blanks and I start to ‘explain’ things and then forget what I had started to talk about!

    Imam pasand mango is Man pasand for me! The latest talk of the town is this now! Man pasand is a movie name! I was laughing loudly at the raakshas name and bigjam! I have got company!

    I think I will meet your L&M one day!


    1. You sure have got company Sandhya! I am sure you can exchange a lot of stories when you meet L&M some day 🙂


  3. Rahul · · Reply

    This was hilarious, Zephyr but this time I was late at reading:( Wishing you many more years of laughter with L&M and sharing the tales.


    1. This was a re-post, Rahul. One that I had done when the blog had just started. Glad you liked it and thanks for the wishes 🙂


  4. I guffawed and guffawed. This was spectacular. Even G has the habit of mixing up and forgetting names but uncle takes the entire bakery. 🙂 I would not have been surprised had you torn all your hair out by now.


    1. Thanks for the sympathy Rachna! Usually I only manage to add one more fan to the long list of his fans when I write an L&M post 🙂


  5. 😀 Cannot blame him with the information overload that assails us these days!! 🙂


  6. sumanmaheshwari · · Reply

    Enjoyed reading this can make comedy film


    1. What an idea sirjee! I will put up the idea to the kids 🙂


  7. I laughed so much that I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
    You are brilliant,


    1. Glad to hear that you liked it, Purba!Didn’t you shed at least a few tears for me, for putting up with his antics? 😦


  8. You’re being so mean to Uncle. Poor thing is surrounded by such lesser mortals! *trying very hard to not laugh* 😂
    He is definitely a league in himself! We say we are proud to be women….he must be saying I’m proud to forget names!
    Now, who can get away with such instances without a scratch on their ego? He is my favourite ‘name guy’ from now on. I’m still laughing. ☺


    1. I knew it! I knew it! Everyone loves him and no one spares a thought for poor me! I will tell him that you have named him the ‘name guy’. He will be tickled pink to hear it 🙂


      1. Ohho…tell me honestly. Had you been in his place you’d blame yourself for the goof-up right. Say sorry to the pharmacist and give the correct name. It takes someone like Uncle to not accept defeat! Isn’t it something! ☺


        1. Just as I feared! Another fan added to the long list of L&M’s fans 🙂


  9. Totally Hilarious! kept me in splits while reading it!!


    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Hema. I thought a small break was in order from the elder series and I reasoned that since this is also about an elder, why not share it?


  10. O Zephyr, Zephyr…I was laughing throughout! What a hilarious post you write. I can picture some really fun (and also perhaps a bit frustrating!) moments in your household 😀

    It reminded me of a story my husband likes to tell again and again about the time he mixed up two names on our first visit to Pondicherry Ashram in 1991. We wanted to meet Dyuman-bhai and instead S told someone that we wanted to meet Chaman-bhai. Luckily for us, there was (is still) a Chaman-bhai in the Ashram. But once S started talking to Chaman-bhai, he could feel that that was perhaps not the right man we were supposed to meet. And then Chaman-bhai understood and took us to the right Dyuman bhai!


    1. I can imagine Chaman Bhai frantically thinking of how to break the news to S 🙂 But when it comes to mixing up names, he is nowhere close to the L&M. ‘bit frustrating?’ He practically drives me mad day in and day out. He has now begun saying that it is all due to age! My foot! I tell him that he was born old, if that had been true 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hahaha! So, there still remain heights to ascend for me before I hit the exalted realms that L&M occupies? 🙂


    1. There is no way you can ever catch up, Suresh! Because he has begun climbing in leaps and bounds these days and will always stay well ahead of any contenders 🙂


  12. Hahahaha…..true…I gave you sympathy on the drive us crazy one I believe….heheheh


  13. How do u manage to do that? I passed the link to my colleague, and she cant stop laughing either.hehehe…With this one, give him a big hug for me.


    1. The problem with the L&M posts is that instead of getting me some sympathy, they get him all the fans. Hmph….


  14. OMG, I haven’t laughed out loud so much in a while. Seriously, there are tears rolling down my cheeks. Awesome post this is! I wish I could witness one of these ‘memory lapses’ myself. This also reminds me of the time when my dad used to call the local ‘Shalimar’ restaurant as ‘Kohinoor’. Both were Dilip Kumar movies, you see. But that was just about the only memory lapse he’s ever had.


    1. What was most annoying was his habit of using complicated associations with the words and names. Just like Shalimar and Kohinoor. Someone should do research on the male brains to map this gene 😀 You should read his other quirks, not to speak of the Brats. We are one loony family, for sure 😀


  15. […] a silly comedy at the theatre, merrily mispronounced and mixed up names of people and places (read all about it here) dug in with gusto at the restaurant, initiated us to the delights of chicken and fish, taught us […]


  16. My wife keeps telling me that I am a world champion in forgetfullness. I am now happy that I have to Guru to look up to 🙂


  17. That was Mind blowing 🙂 Specially ‘Babloopadhyay’ was ingenious. You have a wonderful style of writing, and L&M gives an unending supply of anecdotes to write about!


    1. Welcome here Gautam! Thanks for the compliment on my style.

      The ‘Guru’ would be pleased to know he has a chela! 😀 Actually we used to think that he is faking it till we began realising that he really is the victim of forgetfulness!


  18. Holy Mother of God 🙂 I died laughing….I have to meet L&M…I have become his fan..
    This is so…hilarious..

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post….


    1. Oh, another one! At this rate he is going to be the star of this blog, if he is already not one! And he continues merrily driving me up the wall with his amnesia!


  19. What an amazing text .. ZM.. wonderful!!!! This is one exotic piece… truly , loved it!. What a name ur brat gave for the School!!!. hahaha. No similarity at all.
    At times wen i need to say a particulr name or a location, that very moment i miss it!. And its like , in that particular moment, my brain shuts down and i cant recall it!
    Calling mom and asking the particular name is the best option. I have done it personally!. Still do it!. She is the saviour!
    D way u narrate the story, makes it soo interesting and ironic!. Too good ZM!


  20. Aarti J · · Reply

    What an amazingly interesting and funny post! Love the way you write aunty! I read your post in the middle of a dreary day at work, and I kept laughing my butt off, it was such a lovely pick-me-up! Looking forward to more of such posts from you!


    1. Welocme here Aarti, and thanks a lot for the encouraging comment. One thing I have learnt is that it is easier to try and see the funny part in exasperating situations and if it cheers someone up in the bargain, it is a bonus! Keep visiting!


  21. What a wonderful read 😀 😀
    Loved the post thoroughly 😀 😀

    I totally agree on the point that association helps remembering lots of things 🙂 I am very bad at remembering names, keep forgetting them all the time 🙂

    Keep up the fantastic work 😀 😀



    1. Welcome here Chatterbox! Your smilies are a great tonic for me and I will try to live up to them in my posts!

      I can understand about using association to remember names, but to remember them wrongly??? That’s the strong point of L&M!


  22. I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time!! It was hilarious!! 😀

    Now we have to be fair to L & M…there’s so much more to memorize in this world…no point in trying and remembering difficult names! 😛

    But yes…the mix-ups can lead to ‘Babloopadhyay’ and ‘Ganga nahata hai’ situations…I had no idea 🙂

    Tell me tell me..has he put you in similar situations too???


    1. Thank you Varsh! I really missed you in the first few comments! He will be in total agreement with you about more important things. He has a theory on that. Maybe I should do a separate post on that to spread his gyan!! Yes, he has put me in awkward situations but they are too awkward to relate here in public forum!!!


      1. I haven’t had the time to read it…so sorry…and am going to be away for some time…wrote a whole ‘Adios’ post..do come read 🙂


        1. Read your adios post! Have a great vacation and be back sooooooon! btw, which post are you referring to when you say you haven’t read it?


  23. ROFL….that’s so funnny…Babloopadhyay….Hahahaha!!! And Ganga Nahata Haiii…this is what folklores are made of…i am bad with names but henceforth your L&M Shall be my guru…i have miles to go!


    1. I will tell the L&M that he has a chela. He should be thrilled! And I bet Babloo..er Bandopadhyay, if he is reading this, is not going to be amused at all!


  24. Brilliant! 🙂 The way the mind works to remember things is amazing, and often bizarre – to others, at least. And you explained (?) it in a great and funny way.


    1. Thanks for the comment AN. Yes, the mind uses a lot of associations to remember names, but the L&M is unique because he still only manages to come up with its equivalent and not the actual name!


  25. I am still trying to figure out the exact logic that the association works on but hilarious post Aunty…loved it 🙂


    1. Thanks for the comment Anupama. The association factor is what drives everyone at home crazy! But there is logic behind the madness believe me!


  26. This was a really awesome post!! Had me clutching my sides and laughing the whole time!!


    1. Thank you Jay. I am happy to have provided some moments of hilarity! Do visit again!


  27. Hahaha…. this one really had me in splits. At times I too tend to forget things and have a hard time remembering names n stuff… but yeah never such fun over it… 🙂


    1. Like I told Chits, the L&M is a league of his own, unlike us poor mortals. And no, it is not always fun when it is actually happening!


  28. Your posting sure is a SCREAM !! Gosh, don’t we all experience this lapse of memory(it seems to be happening more often now!) regarding names of – be it people, places, books, movies or whatever……!
    Loved it !
    Have to mention that the L&M is such a sport !


    1. Thanks Chits. What we experience is a momentary lapse, but the L&M has it down to an art! I keep telling him that it is a wonder he remembers names at all! For your info, he loves the posts and even offers helpful hints to spice them up!


  29. sahithya · · Reply

    Hahahahaha 😀 My dad’s gonna be relieved to see that there are people like him!!! It was almost like an account of his antics!..

    My friends’ names were impossible for him to recollect, so he would refer to them as kk nagar, gopalapuram, lake view road etc… 😀 (their houses)
    Appa has called one particular aunty named “sarayu”, ” godavari”…you can see the connection rt? 🙂
    And our neighbour James would be christened with new names everytime he met him – “joseph” , “john” , “jacob” to his amusement!
    My mother gets highly entertained when he pronounces stations in Singapore which are conveniently named so that people like him can say any close pronunciation and get away with it : bukit batok and bukit gambok become bucket bintok,bukit gamit, and whatever combinations of syllables you can think of!!!

    Simply loved reading about the goof ups aunty!!! Thanks for the good laugh!


    1. Thanks Sahitya. It is good to see you back! what a way to remember the names of your friends. The Sarayu- Godavari mix-up sounds like the L&M method of association! You are right about the Singapore stations being named to suit the likes of your dad and the L&Ms of this world! lol


  30. hahaha! I was rolling all over the place with this post! Reminded me of every cute little goof up Dad was ever involved in.

    Dont you remember how we passed it on to us when I was calling a guest who had come home : Tedekar when his name was Khedekar and we had a good laugh about it . Tedekar – Seedhekar!


    1. Oh yes. the poor Kedekar! I forgot to write about the Dam Dama lake too. Remember how he kept asking directions to get to Dama Dam lake and got puzzled looks from the people he asked?


  31. Pratibha · · Reply

    i didnt know it was unusual 2 forget names. Imagine I keep scratching my brain 4 a particular word even while teaching. Sometimes I use a wrong word n continue teaching & when i pause some student corrects it. i think they have learnt 2 live with this quality of mine. no! I dont think i m that scary


    1. Nice to see you back here Pratibha. 🙂 You really have understanding students, who simply correct you and not give you nicknames!:)

      I think this happens mostly because our brain is processing so much info simultaneously that it can’t keep track of everything. Yes, I agree that no one can be as forgetful as the L&M!


      1. Pratibha · · Reply

        Ma’am it is a student’s birthright 2 nick name teachers. I have done it ( I m sure u also must have) n I know 4 sure that my students also do. The trick of d trade is not 2 let d teacher know.

        You must thank d forgetful people – who inspire you 2 write such articles.


        1. You sure are a very understanding teacher! Y?es, i remember the nicknames we used to give our teachers too. But we used to think that we were so clever and all that the teachers had no clue. Now I know and my respect for them has grwon! I mean, to know that you are called by some name by the students and yet continue being nice to them and teaching.

          Oh yes. I never fail to thank my family for being being so ‘supportive’ in supplying me with masala to write!!


  32. Mami I think this problem runs in the family. I cannot remember names to save my life. I will remember all useless information about the person but not his/her name.


    1. Yeah Shilps. it never fails to amaze me how things like this runs in the family! You must take a leaf out of mama’s book and use the association factor to come up with names, so what if they are wrong? Gives the listeners hours of fun, doesn’t it?


  33. ha hahaha… seriously Bablooupadhayay??? love L n M for this 😛

    i have memory loss probs too.. i cant remember names whoever they are.. i ll remember the face, just not good luck with the names.. believe me, i dont even remember my ex colleagues or college class mates names.. the other day, a college junior caught me and was talking to me happily.. all the while i was with “now wr did i meet you before” expression… 😐 happens loads of times…

    during school, i had the habit of forgetting my own name.. my famous dialogue used to be “Per enna?” *whats my name* when my mom or sister wud shout my name.. 😛


    1. Hey, you could give the L&M a run for his money in the memory department!
      forgetting your own name? 🙂
      Do you know the story of the fly (eee in Tamil) that forgot its name and went around asking every animal and person it met what its name was?


  34. Siddharth · · Reply

    Nice writing as usual ma’am…. so sorry I wasn’t the first one to comment this time… the “lets sleep in late its Saturday!” did me in 😉


    1. You are welcome Siddharth. I must admit that I was a little disappointed not to see your name first, but sleep is more important. take care.


  35. ROFL 😀 I laughed so much that my boyz came from the other room to check if all was well 😀 . Well I sympathize with poor L&M hehehe I too do that sometime you know.. wo that boy what’s his name , the one with long hair , tell me na .. and the boys look at each othe r and me with blank faces and then resume their work till I ponder over the name. Bad with names but not that much hahaha loved the mudra-rakshas thing . He seems to be a great fan of Vishakdatta the great Sanskrit playwright . Oh my and the way you tell it all, you really deserve a big hug for this one. tell vinni to tweet it , I will for sure. this sure is worth sharing.

    I wonder what L&M will say to all this fun at his expense hahahha. I have began to like him too. 🙂

    Well a rose is a rose , call it by any name 🙂 if he called you vasantsena instead of your name , will he love you less? I don’t think so.

    10/10 for this one.


    1. Thanks Tikuli. I told the L&M he has a fan. No, he doesn’t mind but gives helpful hints when I do these posts!
      Thanks for your thought on tweeting this! Love you!


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