I dont know of a better way to start talking about the last twenty five years of my life, than to talk about the one thing that has been with me for almost every single moment of that time…
What would you say if I ask you “who are you?” Most people to whom I have asked the truly philosophical question, have always chosen to respond with a similar answer… Their name.
My parents have always been strong believers in astrology… From the moment I was born one of their biggest concerns was to know what my future held for me and how to improve it. Even now, twenty five years later they jump at the first opportunity to ask questions to respected astrologers(not those fancy guys that come on tv) about how my current “time” is.
Apparently the time and place of my birth sort of determined my name(this procedure is extremely common in my family). Under the consultation of an astrologer who determined the mathematical positions of the planets at the time of my birth, my name had to start with the syllable “Cha”.
Once this was known lot of people suggested names for me, common ones like “Chandru” mostly. My parents were left to make the decision but could not make a confident call… [This was the moment I believe in many ways determined how my life would unfold (more on that in later parts)] My parents then approached a hindi teacher who had arrived at the naming ceremony, for his suggestions. He heard the starting character and asked my parents to name me “Chandrahasa”. My parents thought that was a wonderful name and thus I was christened.
There are tons of pros and cons to having a uncommon name. Most people who read my name for the first time always read it as “Chandrashekar” (a very common name, more importantly the name of a famous Indian freedom fighter). I have had to every single time spell out my name when people make out bills for me or fill my name anywhere… and well, its just too long a name to give out to a girl you just met ;) (I wasnt kidding about the last one). On the positive side, thanks to the uniqueness of my name people hardly ever forget me.
When I was a kid my grandmother used to narrate stories to me all the time. The stories all were based on (hindu) mythology, in many ways I believe this is what expanded my imagination to so many levels. Anyway, one of my favorite stories was that of the ‘King Chandrahasa’. (You can read that story here – Story of Chandrahasa). As I would realize later in life, there was a lot of similarities between the protagonist of that story and me. Maybe some of it was sub consciously a part of my mind but some events still surprise me. (more on that later)
My nick name as a kid was always “Chandru”. A few of my school friends still refer to me by that nick… My mom calls me with that name :) My dad on the other hand was more innovative, he actually used to call me “horse” for a long time, actually he still does. Oddly I never had any particular opinions about being called that, maybe its got to do with the fact that I am not very close with my dad and this is one of the few things we have always shared… Ironically when I eventually did get my currently used nick name “Haas”, it was he who was particularly happy that his idea caught on ;)
Right thru school the advantage of the name was that I was in the top 10 students all the time, not in marks lists but in the attendance register. This is an awesome advantage coz you just need to pay concentration for the first few seconds of attendance check and you get to goof off till the end of the what was a pretty lengthy list of names. Of course how this would help a boy who sat in the first 3 benches all the time is very debatable.
I remember once that Times of India had organized a poetry competition to mark the 50th year of India’s Independence(I was 13 then btw) and I had one of the top 10 prizes. Now the prize had actually arrived by mail but apparently another copy of it was sent to my school. The principal was doing her daily routine of talking about how things should be done in school and all of a sudden announced my name. I remember not looking around for even a moment, I simply walked up and picked up my prize(despite paying zero attention till that point)… That day I remember wondering that it wasn’t a bad idea having a rare name…
In Engineering it was an old friend of mine that paved the way for me earning my current nick name. This was the second year of Engg and a friend of mine and I were discussing about common ways to refer to people. He told me something about using the last part of the first name to refer to people, for me that would have been “Hasa”. Now that really didnt sound very cool but little look here and there and it became “Haas”. I silently hoped that this nick would catch on :P Frankly, I had a comparatively common nick name till then and this seemed nice and interesting… The name caught on very well and before long I was introducing myself as “Haas” rather than “Chandrahasa”.
When I joined the acting workshop with Misfit, my nick name was misheard by my Acting teacher and it became “Hash”. I thought at that moment that this nick name was even cooler (atleast it sounded addictive :P ) and after that I have been known by my theater friends as “Hash”.
When I was much younger I wasnt very proud of many things I had… actually I wasnt much happy with who I was. I didnt exactly hate my name but when the opportunity of having a cool name arrived I was more than happy to jump ship. I dont think I will ever blame myself for choosing to do that, it was those little lessons in naivety that taught me so much…
I dont remember exactly when I started loving my name, I think it was around my 20th birthday. Maybe it was an attempt to stop running away from who I was or maybe it was just a moment of Epiphany, whatever it was I think when my attitude changed from wanting to called by a cool name to being called by my real name, I as a person had changed…
Almost all my friends call me “Haas” or “Hash” and I think its nice but it doesnt have that cool feeling it had a little time back. I have a couple of friends who occasionally refer to me by my full name… this might sound odd but I simply love it when they introduce or call me by my full name. There is this unusal closeness I feel with those few friends just coz they occasionally remind me of who i truly am.
There is a lot to events, memories in life that I owe to my name. I dont think I will ever regret it for being what it is, personally I feel I could not have been more aptly named :)