My mother told me that my name came to her in a dream the day before I was born – she heard someone tell her that "Raghuraman will be born".
The name is one of the names of Lord Rama – "Rama of Raghu Vansham (Dynasty).
Rama is the epitome of the perfect man in Hindu mythology – his perfection outlined in the epic Ramayana – the loving son, the perfect warrior, the unselfish prince who gave up his kingdom to protect his father's promise to his stepmother….. And on and on, except for a couple of brief imperfections that served to highlight the rest of his perfect existence.
Add Venkataraman (my Father's name as the surname) and you have the beginnings of a well rounded, rhythmic South Indian name that rolls off the tongue of most Indians with ease, and mellifluousness, and resides comfortably amid local variations and conjugations of the Rama continuum such as Sundararaman (beautiful Rama), Sethuraman (Rama who crossed the bridge of Sethu to Sri Lanka on his quest to meet and defeat Ravana), Sitaraman (Rama, husband of Sita), and endless other variations.
Let quickly step away from the glory of that name to the opposite of resonance.
I grew up as a curious, spoilt brat full of himself, full of flaws.
My curiosity has taken me around the world and my name suffered a few unintended but inevitable consequences:
The first was a practical necessity of shortening of the forename to Raghu – after a few thousand manglings of the name at first introductions to Americans in Atlanta – my first port of call outside India.
This shortening proved inadequate – the Raghu (Rug + Who – said quickly together – as I often explained) turned into Ragu (Like the spaghetti sauce?) – enough times such that it became part of my declaration of identity – "Hello, I am Ragu, like the spaghetti sauce".
This had the unfortunate consequence that many people remembered me by name many years after chance or prolonged encounters, while I, with my poor memory for names and a better one for faces, would struggle to recollect the Johns, Jacks and Davids that were as profuse on the ground as Raman was back home.
Fast forward past thousands of phone calls that reiterated the inadequacy of the group of letters that made up my identity – "That's R for Roger, A for Apple, G for God, H for Horse…". And on for a few more minutes before rewinding to – "No, let me start from the top, R for Rabbit, A for America, G for Goodnight, H for Hell, U for for U are really pissing me off now…." And you can understand that while I fully cherish the wonderful intent of my mother's benediction, I remain perennially under-prepared for its use in cosmopolitan parlance and polite society.
When I write a book, and I intend to, it will be published under a pseudonym – Jack Saxon or some example of Anglo-Saxon simplicity that will broaden its reach into more global audiences.
Once I am famous, I will then sock it to the world with the full glory of Jack Saxon – the writer originally and permanently known as Raghuraman Venkataraman.
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!