Throughout the last 8 days, I've been often told by my newly formed Chinese acquaintances in hushed but sincere tones, "Keep your Indian one, but get one for China too". I have been assured that people "do this all the time", and back home "it would really not make a difference" and "it's our way of showing you that we accept you into our culture.. it's our demonstration of inclusivity and hospitality".
So are we talking a woman here? And would I really be blogging about it on a public and accessible-to-the-wife forum if it were indeed (oh fantasies of fantasies!!) a woman for local China consumption?
(quick note to the wife: you're the only one baby!! the only thing I have separate for India and for China are mobile SIM numbers)
(quick note #2 to the wife: there are still 3 weeks to go ;))
Nopes.. we're talking the concept of a Chinese name here. Getting a Chinese name for a visitor is apparently a very big deal though it's something I'm not quite able to get my head around. Further one's knees are supposed to go weak with excitement and tears of joy are to stream down one's eyes when a Chinese gives you your Chinese name. Most visitors talk about getting their name like it's a knighting ceremony.I don't know how this dual name thing works. I've had my share of being called names in school ('hey you @#$@#W#$er, mind getting out of the bathroom...there are others who need it too'). Invariably one of the '@#$@#W#$ers' would stick and remain your name for the term.
In China getting a Chinese name means indebtedness for life to the name giver for something that is essentially done for his/her convenience anyway. Here's the name thing concept in a nutshell: A Chinese cannot pronounce Pomegranate and announces that the fruit be called Pi Dong Lun (say). And the Pomegranate is now a Pi Dong Lun and expected to be honored to be one!!
My indifference to the new name concept (hell... I've never even had a nick name in life) and lack of interest in this whole philosophy couldn't really deter people who couldn't get their tongue rolling around the 4 syllables that make my name. Hence I was 'granted' a name without asking:
Here is the background from my Chinese associate who gave the name:
(sic) "Let me explain your name: 苏 derives from your name Su. As in Chinese custom, it is surname. While ri in your name, it is better to translate as 瑞。 瑞 in Chinese refers to something as auspicious or lucky. While in ancient China,瑞 is more related to the fortunate that the emperor will bring to his citizen."
I'm not going to be rude or ungrateful here guys! I appreciate the new name - whatever purpose it may serve and for whomsoever. I also appreciate the thought behind explaining the meaning so that I don't feel like Prince (). Most of the times I've been called @#$@$#@er for an extended duration, nobody has so definitively bothered to explain context or rationale or has given me one which is mostly unprintable.
I gracefully accept the name above!!
However can we please keep this away from Citibank? There is no way this thing can be allowed to make it's way onto my cheque book!!