As American as a Chevy or a Cola

Upendra Chivukula, who in 2002 became the first Indian American elected to the New Jersey assembly, is running for re-election.  New Kerala.com reports:

Chivukula, currently serving his second term in the New Jersey State Assembly, hopes his track record on how he has helped his district while in office will get him re-elected.

“I have brought $4.9 million into the district to provide aid to various municipalities; the various legislations I have sponsored, some in process, such as prompt-pay laws for healthcare providers to compensate, better definition of customer care so that insurance companies cannot escape their responsibilities.

This is a work in progress. You keep working on it,” said Chivukula, the Indian American who has sponsored a Science and Technology Caucus in the state legislature and was instrumental in establishing the World Languages and International Studies Caucus.

“The most important issue facing people are property taxes and how to provide relief,” Chivukula, who has also expressed interest in running for the US House of Representatives in November 2006, told IANS.

“Number two is how to make healthcare affordable and providing access to healthcare.”

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p>Methinks this is the wrong political environment in which to focus on priority number one, so maybe he will concentrate instead on number two, which deserves more attention anyways.

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p>American Public Media’s radio show Marketplace did a story this past Thursday on Chivukula, which also featured Congressman Bobby Jindal (thanks for the tip Manan).  The ~4 minute story discusses the rise of political muscle within the Indian American community.  In the story, Chivukala tells the reporter that even though his last name is difficult for most Americans to pronounce, he thinks he can get elected.  To paraphrase, he tells her to, “just think if you drive a Chevy and drink a Cola.  Then put them together and you have Chivukula.” 

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p>Though he is running for State office, as mentioned above Chivukula has a committee that is exploring his bid for the US Congress. Called “Chivukula for Congress” the committee also has a website (which I can’t find).

“That is a long-term plan. A lot of times opportunities come and you have a window of opportunity. So you have to be ready for it. I’m getting ready for the Congressional run for the House seat when the opportunity presents itself,” he said.

“That could come in 2006 if the seat opens up. If it doesn’t happen then, the next opportunity is in 2008.”

US Senator Frank Lautenberg will be 84 years old soon and observers say he may choose not to run for office again. In that case, US House Representative Rush Holt has indicated he will run for the seat Lautenberg lets go. That would leave a House seat open, one that Chivukula may try for in 2006.

47 thoughts on “As American as a Chevy or a Cola

  1. Chivukula is a great guy, who does lot of work for Hindu and Indian community in his area.

    Unlike “Bobby” Jindal, Chivulkula is not only Indian by name but his actions as well.

    He takes a point to attend all the Hindu and Indian community events and support the people whenever necessary.

  2. Unlike “Bobby” Jindal, Chivulkula is not only Indian by name but his actions as well. He takes a point to attend all the Hindu and Indian community events and support the people whenever necessary.

    So in order to be a real Indian you need to attend Hindu events? Why do you need to perform certain actions to prove that you are Indian? I am no fan of Jindal but I think your sentiments are kind of lame. As a politician representing NJ I don’t much care if attends Hindu events or not. I just want him to do a good job forwarding progressive issues.

  3. … just think if you drive a Chevy and drink a Cola. Then put them together and you have Chivukula…

    If you’re a lout and like iceberg lettuce… Lautenberg.

    If you play patty-cake and air hockey… Pataki.

    If you wear shorts and are racist… Schwarzenegger.

    If you use illegal inhalants and live in a village… Huffington.

    If you file torts and are a modernist… Sununu.

    If you’re thin and wealthy… Dietrich (Marlene).

    These naming schemes are just silly. If people can learn Eastern European names that are now perceived as white, they can damn well learn South Indian ones.

  4. Abhi,

    Didn’t we just have a discussion about this on the Supriya Christopher post? After all, Bobby J and Supriya C proudly wear their conversions to Catholicism on their sleeves. Clearly, as many posters argued in that thread, a pointed display of religiosity is electorally important in the US, which today happens to be the most aggressively religious country in the world today. So, what’s wrong with somebody being happy that Upendra C is a hindu who has not disassociated himself from his socio-cultural identity? Isn’t it reasonable that some Hindus may find Bobby J and Supriya C’s fervent embrace of Catholicism and the implied subtext of distancing themselves from their hindu roots offensive? Isn’t it also reasonable that many such Hindus may applaud Upendra C for his staying close to his religious community and find it a positive attribute worthy of consideration in an election? What’s good for goose etc.

  5. Ughh.. I had made it a point of avoiding religion topics at SM- but I get sucked into another here. Well. I choose not to get sucked in. Just so mad..

  6. guj,

    here is what the initial comment said:

    Chivukula is a great guy, who does lot of work for Hindu and Indian community in his area.

    Unlike “Bobby” Jindal, Chivulkula is not only Indian by name but his actions as well.

    He takes a point to attend all the Hindu and Indian community events and support the people whenever necessary.

    assertions #1 and #3 are what you are addressing. assertion #2 is what abhi is addressing. i know it makes it easy to portray abhi as a hypocrite by ignoring the intent of his comment, but if all things must be stated explicitly it is hard to have a comment board where sincerity and good faith count for anything.

    i’m not a fan of politicians who make religion a big issue, and the tendency for candidates to have to wear their gods on their sleaves is a part of modern american culture i find unseemly and irrelevant (it’s all make-believe to me). nevertheless, that is a totally separate issue from whether or not one must be hindu to be authentically indian. remember that bobby jindal and supriya christopher are “sand niggers” to many no matter what god they worship.

  7. Razabbhai,

    You may be right, but I’d rather have Abhi speak for himself. Besides, Abhi’s exact quote is “As a politician representing NJ I don’t much care if attends Hindu events or not.” To me, that clearly like going beyond the neatly analyzed category #2 that you think he’s addressing.

    While I don’t appreciate you characterizing my statement about US as idiotic hyperbole, I’d just challenge you to find me any country where aggressive religious fundamentalists are succeeding in appropriating the levers of power in social, cultural and government institutions. Show me one country that has all of the following:

    1.A powerful president allied with the most religious fundamentalist sections.

    2.Powerful right-wing controlled media like Fox reaching masses.

    3.A popular culture that is getting increasingly immersed in a primitive view of the world – evidenced by the Left Behind series of books selling millions of copies.

    4.An educational system that is under a concerted attack to be stripped of scientific learning. Discovery Institute is not run by dodos, but very sophisticated professionals.

    5.A Supreme Court that is slowly being taken over by relgious fundamentalists like Frau Miers.

    6.And last but not least, where the population considers religious and “moral” beliefs is the number one elecotral consideration for majority of the population.

    Perhaps you need to educate yourself on what is happening in your country rather than living with latte sipping liberals in one of the bicoastal bubbles. Here’s a start:

    Dominionism, Political Power & the Theocratic Right

  8. I’d just challenge you to find me any country where aggressive religious fundamentalists are succeeding in appropriating the levers of power in social, cultural and government institutions.

    Ummm…Iran comes to mind.

  9. You may be right, but I’d rather have Abhi speak for himself.

    Gujubhai, I no longer respond to you. You are a troll, and everyone, including Razib who was kind enough to answer, was able to see what you were attempting to do. I could say that the grass was green and you’d find a way to voice your displeasure. I figured out what you stand for a long time ago (cough saffronist cough). Therefore please don’t be surprised if you don’t see me responding to your bait on future posts.

    Thank you, come again.

  10. He takes a point to attend all the Hindu and Indian community events and support the people whenever necessary.

    Thats a good start. What is important is that he represent ‘all’ Indians regardless, isnt it?

  11. Ouch…the horror! I’ve been branded with the S-word now. Not that it matters, but I prefer the label bride-burning-caste-discriminating-cow-worshipping-Hindoo. Seriously, though : I am disappointed that you resorted to name-calling instead of a rational debate. I’d like to think that I am making rational arguments based on facts and if you can prove otherwise, I am open to being educated. Besides, how does holding a mirror to the rise of religious fundamentalism in the US make me a S*******ist?

    VBSF,

    Yes, you are right…Iran/Saudi Arabia/Pakistan etc unfortunately do exist. My bad, my point was about comparing US with reasonably free countries and illustrate the stark difference between US and countries like Canada, UK, Japan, India and so on. So let me rephrase my original statement as “US the the most aggressively religious country among constitutionally secular nations in the free world”.

    Thank you. I will certainly come again.

  12. US the the most aggressively religious country among constitutionally secular nations in the free world

    I dont think many people would disagree with you. But you are getting all pumped up here. Calm down. And people can give you an exhaustive list of countries with significantly more fundamentalism in politics than America.

    I went to a talk by Sandeep Pandey and he said the same thing. US is the biggest terrorist state and it is evident “when without providing evidence as to who was behind the Sept. 11 incidents it went and attacked Afghanistan for no reason”

    But that is besides the point here. Now lets focus on Chivukula!

  13. US is the biggest terrorist state and it is evident “when without providing evidence as to who was behind the Sept. 11 incidents it went and attacked Afghanistan for no reason”

    Sheesh. Somedays I just don’t have the energy to fight the good fight. Please lets not make irrational statements against the U.S. for the one smart decision it made in the last six years. We attacked Afghanistan for all the right reasons.

    But that is besides the point here. Now lets focus on Chivukula!

    Agreed! :)

  14. Desidude,

    Thank you. Where my opinion differs from yours is that religious fundamentalism in the US society is, in fact, very relevant to the domestic politics. This is especially true in the case of politicians of desi origins like Chivukula. All I want to do is join S.Jain in applauding Chivukula for staying associated with Hindus and Indians. Clearly, desi politicians in the US are making two starkly different choices: the likes of Chiranjeev Kathuria, Chivukula and Ro Khanna are succeeding in the religion-obsessed politics of the US inspite of sticking to their socio-religious roots while the likes of Bobby J and Supriya C are assimilating, some may even say ingratiating, into the christian movement for appropriating power. If I were in New Jersey, I’d give extra points to Chivukula for making a choice that is clearly more difficult from a political and “electability” perspective than had he converted to Christianity and/or changed his name. To me, it would indicate a strength of character befitting a leader. Others may disagree, but it’s their right.

  15. remember that bobby jindal and supriya christopher are “sand niggers” to many no matter what god they worship.

    I’m borrowing this quote, razib

  16. [I don't know why religion has come up. Seems like any little thing can start off a big discussion of terrorism and fundamentalism amongst commentors...]

    More to the point, I think the fact that he’s making a joke about his difficult name (difficult, that is, to Americans) tells us something: it really might become a bit of a hindrance as his campaign goes forward. (Then again, this is New Jersey, who knows?)

    Judging purely from his CV, though, Chivukula is on the level: good political experience, he’s starting small (and hopefully building a network), and he seems to have a good attitude. Much better than Chiranjeev Kathuria and other such ‘novelty’ politicians, who are mainly in it to stroke their own inflated egos.

  17. lease lets not make irrational statements against the U.S. for the one smart decision it made in the last six years.

    I was merely quoting Mr. Sandeep Pandey (who I agree with on this and other issues).

    Anyway, I agree that more focus should be on Health care than on real-estate tax. Just because Indian American community is well off with respect to health care, doesnt mean that the priorities should change. As a leader he is representing all and not just Indian’s.

    Gujubhai, And if Bobby Jindal is a Christian, so what? What is important is he should relate to and communicate with South Asian community as well. Problem only comes in when he takes responsibility for a section of people. Same goes for Chivukula.

    I agree with you that it may be a challenge for Chivukula to get work done in the ‘white castle’ :)

  18. look, these issues are complex. when i first read this story, my thought was “well, thank god he isn’t talking about how christ saved his life from hindu paganism.” i have lived in a very conservative christian part of the country where i was mocked for worshipping monkeys and elephants and cows (ignoring the fact i was an atheist of muslim origin), so i am sensitive to the disrespect that hinduism gets in comparison to other religions, especially the monotheistic ones. when i was in college and i was hitting on a girl i would sometimes make fun of hindus and hinduism as opposed to the martial vigor of islam just to puff myself up and get past the apu-kwiki-mart-stereotype (sorry if that seems disrespectful, but myself, i don’t respect religion as anything special, and the only importance it has for me personally, at least in the past, was as a social tool to manipulate people).

    frankly, i do look at people who convert to dominant social paradigms a little differently. it suggests to me a certain malleability and weakness of character. some here were making loud noises of free volition as regards dalit conversion to christianity, but i think social context matters a lot in the choices you make. if bobby jindal had been raised in UAE i doubt he would have converted to catholicism, and i would not be surprised if he became hafez jindal and converted to islam. frankly, i have known atheists who went through an evangelical christian phase, and my personal impression is that even as atheists they exhibit a tendency to be easily manipulated and controlled by those with more charisma and social status within their new ingroups (in some ways though they are the more likeable and well adjusted atheists).

    as someone who doesn’t value the higher order principles of a hindu, jewish, etc. identity when weighed against personal free choice (even though most people are suggestible morons), i have taken a somewhat hard line against those who would render illegitimate the act of conversion or individual choice in regards to religious profession. i do not deny that social parameters are crucial, but i also think that change is a byproduct of the individual-centered society of the west. empirically the diaspora experience of other groups, like jews, show that a large fraction do assimilate toward the majority culture. in trinidad and south africa, and to a lesser extent mauritius, fiji and guyana, diaspora communities of south asians do switch to the christian religion once the background supports for hinduism are removed. surveys i’ve seen suggest that somewhere like 10-15% of japanese americans are buddhist, while over half are christian (and a large minority nonreligious). among jews the erosion has been less noticeable, but according to surveys probably around 20% of jews by expansive definitions are now non-jewish by religion. this neglects that jews, unlike japanese, tend to melt into the populace with a generation because their physical differences are less salient (barry goldwater had a jewish father). browns are probably going to be in the middle, their religious values are stronger than the japanese had when they arrived, but a evangelical christian browns will remain brown identified because they look brown.

    as regards the role of religion and indian politicians, my impression is that the administrators on this weblog do not view the mixing of religion and politics positively. ergo, it stands to reason that just as they are suspicious of the christian faith espoused by brown politicos, they will also be rather tepid toward aggressive assertions of hindu identity. two wrongs don’t make a right. what some have confused to hypocrisy is i think simply the same underlying principle.

    finally, not all religions are created equal. though i generally look at conversion to evangelical christianity by hindus suspiciously, i would view conversion of muslim browns to evangelical christianity as a positive step. i don’t care enough about muslims as individuals who i think should show some backbone to neglect the reality that in my opinion evangelical christians are less nutty than the average muslim. (and of course, i would hope that all intelligent people simply discard religious affiliations and move beyond the need for supernatural agents to buttress their self-worth, but that isn’t going to happen)

    p.s. i know all about dominion theology and the reconstructionist movement. suffice it to say that in the land of mcchurch strict calvinism is not long term threat.

  19. my impression is that the administrators on this weblog do not view the mixing of religion and politics positively

    Thats exactly the difference between western progressives and Indian. Take Gandhiji for example, he wanted “all religions” to be part of politics rather than excluding them completely. Religion is the integral part of ALL Indians no matter what religion they follow.

    Nehru didnt completely buy this idea and went pro-communism into making India a socialist country – ignoring the needs of Hindus, Muslims, Budhists and others.

  20. Thats exactly the difference between western progressives and Indian.

    if ethnic origin is what you mean by “indian” my impression is that the administrators of this weblog are indian. but, if you mean nationality they are clearly not, they are american. if you mean civilization, well, that’s a complex one, but from what i can see on this weblog (the periodic ABCD vs. FOB conflicts illustrative) the sensibilities are eminently western rather than “indian” when the two do not intersect or are irreconcilable. to use another analogy, a lot of the lexicon here is brown (so pretty difficult for me to follow), but the syntax is american.

  21. as regards the role of religion and indian politicians, my impression is that the administrators on this weblog do not view the mixing of religion and politics positively. ergo, it stands to reason that just as they are suspicious of the christian faith espoused by brown politicos, they will also be rather tepid toward aggressive assertions of hindu identity. two wrongs don’t make a right. what some have confused to hypocrisy is i think simply the same underlying principle.

    YES.

    the sensibilities are eminently western rather than “indian” when the two do not intersect or are irreconcilable.

    YES.

    That first comment rubbed me the wrong way. It seemed to offer that you have to prove your Indian-ness by completing some widely agreed upon check-list.

  22. razib,

    My comment was not directed to any one ethic/race/group. If you talk to a progressive/liberal in ‘America’ (and a communist in India), thats the answer you will get – exclusion of religion and state completely. On the contrary, ‘Indian’ indicates – current and past UPA and NDA who believe in “inclusive” representation of all religions. At least some inclusion is necessary given the reasons I said before.

  23. not sure about leftists in india, although they are made into straw men at times so its hard to take on the issue…but

    i don’t think a secularist point of view calls for removing religion or spirituality from people’s lives.

    what secularism means for many is something different that a simple binary.

    among others, it might mean that religion as an organizing princple of society and culture is not a good thing. or it may mean that religion is a private and not public matter. or it might mean that religion will not be priviledged as a means of interpretion or explanation. it may mean that religion may have to compete in a market place of ideas for followers

  24. ps…there are indians for whom religion is not an integral part of their world-view. to suggest otherwise may be a bit orientalist, in that if one can imagine an anglo-saxon atheist comfortable in his/her nation, one should be able to imagine a desi atheist comfortable in his nation

  25. Well, said. Raju.

    Secularim means pluralism, not building a pecking order based on religion or imposing one’s value system on others.

    Chivukula seems to be a decent politican. Please do not get me started on Bobby Jindal - I have 10 years of South, 7 years of Louisiana, 6 years of Baton Rouge, and I think I can see through his game-plan. He is/ always been infactju st a prop which the Hurricane Katrina fallout clearly showed.

  26. Looks like two dead in the race riot in Birmingham.

    Lozells is not new to racial tension. There is a strong Afro-Caribbean presence – the biggest contingent among the black population originating from Jamaica. Asian gangs have also grown up in the area, and there has been simmering tension between the two racial groups. Often trouble has related to drugs – mainly heroin – and gun crime.
  27. I can not help but wonder about the undercurrents of divisiveness that plague Indians immigrants in the US. This is somewhat inexplicable.

    Is it possible that while realizing that the Indians are generally perceived as being part of one cohesive group, they attempt to leverage any connecting characteristic with the majority? For instance, Indian Christians in the US may be tempted to flaunt their religiosity even more than their counterparts in India, thus desperately attempting to identify with the mainstream. Again, this is just an example, largely derived from the Bobby Jindal story and some anecdotal evidence.

    I think a measure of self-respect will mitigate this issue.

  28. frankly, i do look at people who convert to dominant social paradigms a little differently. it suggests to me a certain malleability and weakness of character

    You’re talking about almost all politicians, razib :) There’s a reason they choose a career that’s essentially a popularity contest (god bless their souls) rather than becoming (legitimate) scholars, bureaucrats, or policy experts.

  29. Interesting coincidence — I randomly met Upendra Chivukula last night at a big Garba event in North Jersey.

    Seemed like a nice enough guy; he was working the crowd like crazy.

    I only had time for one question before he dropped me his card and moved on to address the throngs of Gujurati businesspeople who wanted to say hi. So I asked him: are you running for Congress? Answer: [yes] “Next Year!”


    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  30. Why and how Indian secularism is DIFFERENT than western: (Amartya Sen)

    Secularism in contemporary India, which received legislative formulation in the post-independence constitution of the Indian Republic, contains strong influences of Indian intellectual history, including the championing of intellectual pluralism. Indian secularism takes a somewhat different form and makes rather different demands from the more austere Western versions, such as the French interpretation of secularism, which is supposed to prohibit even personal display of religious symbols or conventions in state institutions at work. Indeed, there are two principal approaches to secularism, focusing respectively on (1) neutrality between different religions, and (2) prohibition of religious associations in state activities. Indian secularism has tended to emphasize neutrality in particular, rather than prohibition in general.
  31. I agree with Amardeep – Chivukula seems like a nice enough guy. It doesn’t make much difference to me if he makes an effort to show up at specifically Hindu events- we don’t have many of those at Bridgewater Gurudwara anyhow. But in his capacity as a South Asian face in New Jersey politics, I haven’t found anything about him thus far that would turn me off from looking into him further, or feeling like I could relate to him in some capacity. I don’t have any issue with him looking to relate to others via their ethnic/religious connection – how many 1st generation South Asians in NJ are involved in politicals on the local level or otherwise? There needs to be a way to pull them in. You need some way to connect to them – it’s marketing, man. I would take issue, however, if his ethnic/religious ties overtly affected his political decisions and took priority over what’s best for the residents of our state. Like I said – he’s an ok guy. Anyone who’s looking into doing something about property taxes in New Jersey (or at least smart enough to pretend to care about looking into it), something that affects all NJ residents, brown or otherwise, is at least worth getting to know. So, we’ll see…

  32. if bobby jindal had been raised in UAE i doubt he would have converted to catholicism, and i would not be surprised if he became hafez jindal and converted to islam

    Good one! I have heard a prominent Christian cricket player in Pakistan has converted to Islam ostensibly because he saw the ‘light’;)

    I see nothing wrong in people changing their names when they have names which are ‘unpronouncable’ in societies where they live. There is some research which shows (I am too lazy to cite) that people with ‘ethnic’ names are less likely to get called back for interviews. Having names which are difficult to pronouce just makes it difficult on everybody. I can understand immigrants who have such names. Its almost rude to have such difficult names when the kid is US and which invariably leads to constant awkwardness whenever hes addressed for the rest of his life. I for one am going to keep this in consideration and not name give my kid a name like Muwafaq Muayid Baltiwala or Mehrunisa Mehbooba Mahjabeen.

  33. It seems that there’s an episode or sketch from Goodness Gracious Me that applies to almost any aspect of living in a different country.

    Kindly refer to the first sketch of the first episode of the first season with a man named Jonathan from the UK going to work at a Delhi company and the boss goes “Why make everyone’s life more difficult by giving yourself a silly hard to pronounce foreign name, huh?” I have it on my comp and I can send it to you if you’d like. :)

    With “foreign sounding” names, it’s just laziness and this elitest mindset in which everyone else has to live according to their laziness. It’s not as if we made up any letters and are making you learn a new alphabet. My name’s Navdeep. I had a supervisor ask me if I went by anything shorter. Now, my nickname at home is Deepa, but is that shorter? No, and I also refuse to go by my nickname at work with people who are not my actual friends- I don’t find it professional. I look at the supervisor and go, “Two syllables getting a bit much for you, eh?” If I have to pronounce everyone else’s name correctly, they can take an f’ing second to figure out how to pronounce a two-syllabled name like Navdeep, instead of asking me if I have something shorter. No a-hole, I don’t. It’s my country, too, and I’m an American just like you. Learn my name.

  34. It’s not as if we made up any letters and are making you learn a new alphabet.

    But why insist on keeping names which are harder to pronounce, harder to remember and cause grief to people for no reason ? The Asian community in the US understands this and they always keep an anglo first name for kids born in the US. I also dont believe Asian names are necessarily more difficult to pronounce than Desi names. Navdeep is a simple enough name, but what about people who gives their US born kids names like Ariyapiratti Utaiyapperumal ?

  35. I’m not too sure about the recent trend for many Western-born Indians to give their children Anglicised first names — which happens to some extent here in the UK too — but I do think that people should use their common sense and not unnecessarily handicap their children with names which are going to cause them problems when they grow up.

    Of course that doesn’t mean one should automatically go for European-origin names instead, but it’s just a matter of being a responsible parent and remembering that some names which are appropriate for the subcontinent may not be the best choices for life out here in the West. You have to put the child’s wellbeing first.

  36. The Asian community in the US understands this and they always keep an anglo first name for kids born in the US.

    I was born in the US and so was my brother. We’ve never had anglo names or anglo nicknames, as is the case with many Asians I’ve come across in my lifetime, East and South. Not saying it doesn’t happen, or that it’s a rarity, or even hating- I’m just saying “always” is a strong word.

  37. I will concede, Al Mujahid, that some names plainly do handicap or hold back some folks in general, and that some parents need to keep in mind the environment in which they’re raising their children. I don’t feel, though, that Mandeep should have to call himself Michael or Venkat have to call himself Victor.

  38. But why insist on keeping names which are harder to pronounce, harder to remember and cause grief to people for no reason ?

    No reason? I think there is a lot of thought that goes into Desi names, most of the time they mean something.

    Navdeep is a simple enough name, but what about people who gives their US born kids names like Ariyapiratti Utaiyapperumal ?
    • A little condescending dude. It sounds like your trying to take a stab at South Indian names.
    I don’t feel, though, that Mandeep should have to call himself Michael or Venkat have to call himself Victor.

    I agree, also most long Desi names (the South Indian ones anyway) have there own shorter versions too, which I don’t think are to hard to pronounce, like I’ve known Madhavans that go by Madhu.

  39. Two syllables getting a bit much for you, eh?” If I have to pronounce everyone else’s name correctly, they can take an f’ing second to figure out how to pronounce a two-syllabled name like Navdeep, instead of asking me if I have something shorter. No a-hole, I don’t. It’s my country, too, and I’m an American just like you. Learn my name.

    Hell yes!

    Of course that doesn’t mean one should automatically go for European-origin names instead, but it’s just a matter of being a responsible parent and remembering that some names which are appropriate for the subcontinent may not be the best choices for life out here in the West. You have to put the child’s wellbeing first.

    My parents thought this out 20-odd years ago and gave me an anglo name they loved. I don’t know that’s it’s made me any better off: I will always be sepia, first and foremost, and that’s all ignorant idiots will see. They could care less about my name.

    Interestingly, african americans are also considering the implications of the name game. Do you think employers go through resumes, and put anglo names in priority? Probably, but an anglo name won’t help you out any when you have to do the actual interview. Lesson: name your kids what you want… except for apple or some other egotistical crap (some actor named his kid Skypilot) – That’s just selfish!