On unusual names


I have spent most of my life spelling my name out for people. Yes, I am one of those people who has an unusually spelt name and it didn’t matter whether I was in Oman, India or Australia, I have had to spell it for everyone {In case you haven’t guessed it, Sanch is only part of my name}. But my dramas with names doesn’t end there. I have always had to explain my last name too. You see, my last name is not my family name. It’s my father’s first name.

Growing up, not only did I not have a middle name {for most of my friends, their dad’s first name was their middle name}, but I also didn’t have a surname or family name. I’d leave the ‘Family Name’ section of forms blank and put my first and last names in the ‘Given Name’ section. Then would ensue the story about why I didn’t have a family name. Because even among Indians, it is uncommon to not have one.

Apparently, there’s a certain group of south Indians who do not have a family name. The daughters take on their father’s first name as their last names and later, their husband’s first name {yes, very patriarchal but I’ll try not to go there here}. The sons on the other hand, will have the ancestral village name and the father’s first name as their first two initials followed by their first name. In other words, it would go something like K. S. Ramesh. Where K would be the village and S would be their dad’s name. I guess I should thank my stars I wasn’t born a boy! Try explaining that to everyone!

I’ve gone through school years having some teachers initially think my dad’s name is my name because of the order in which it is written on the roll call. And I’ve had to go through that spiel of not having a family name. This no-family name became a problem when I came here to Australia and applied to get a driver’s license. They wouldn’t accept my last name in the ‘Last name’ section of the form as my passport {my only form of photo ID} didn’t have anything in the ‘Family name’ section but had both my names in the ‘Given names’ line. Fortunately for me, there was another RTA which agreed to let me do it as they had to have a last name and well, my 17 letters long ‘given name’ would not fit.

I have stopped being pedantic and now fill in the Surname or Family name section with my last name. It makes life easier. Yet, it always surprises people when I tell them it’s my dad’s first name. And I repeat my narrative about names.

Have you got an unusual story with your name? Do you have a middle name? 

Do share!

***Linking up with Kirsty where we are confessing about middle names and Alicia for Open Slather this Monday morning***

Until next time,


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  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    23 February 2015 at 10:56 am

    Wow, I had not heard of having no family name! I’m a funny one, I got married and immediately changed my surname to my husband’s one….on facebook. And nowhere else. I use it online and here and there but legally, I kept my maiden name. My middle name was given to me after a great-great aunt who was a missionary and, according to my great aunt, a real bitch!
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      23 February 2015 at 11:42 am

      Yeah, it’s not very common even in India so I struggled through school trying to explain it to teachers and friends alike! A friend of mine has done what you’ve done and I’ve been thinking of that too — just change the last name on FB and social media when I get married but not officially. Lol…funny your family gave you the middle name of someone considered like that!

  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    23 February 2015 at 10:56 am

    Wow, I had not heard of having no family name! I’m a funny one, I got married and immediately changed my surname to my husband’s one….on facebook. And nowhere else. I use it online and here and there but legally, I kept my maiden name. My middle name was given to me after a great-great aunt who was a missionary and, according to my great aunt, a real bitch!
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  • Min@WriteoftheMiddle
    23 February 2015 at 11:00 am

    I can’t imagine not having a family name but I can imagine how it is having to spell out your name all the time. My full name is Marguerite. You would not believe how many people struggle to pronounce that name let alone spell it!! It’s why I mostly stick with my nickname of MIN. I did reclaim my full name for my photography though! I have a first name, a middle name, and my maiden name was my fathers surname. I now use my husbands surname. It’s interesting how different cultures do things!
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:13 pm

      I think I’d have trouble spelling your name too Min but I think I might have got the pronunciation right. And yeah, the last name thing is not common all across India…it’s just some regions. Go figure!

  • jess
    23 February 2015 at 12:36 pm

    My husband has a hard-to-spell first AND last name, only one of the reasons why I didn’t take his family name when we got married. But one day when we have kids they will probably take his last name, so I will be spelling it out for the rest of my days! At least people remember you when you have an interesting name 🙂
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:14 pm

      Haha…true…people do remember that after a while. I’m tempted to use my partner’s last name after marriage only because it’s short and so easy. But I probably won’t because I want to keep my name!

  • Inderpreet
    23 February 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Ah! I feel you Girl. With my name being shortened and even called by acronym and then half my friends calling me by my pet name, the confusion is amazing.
    Had seriously thought of changing my name too once but now I live with the fact that different friends and family too, will call be by different names.
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  • Anastasia Amour
    23 February 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Ahh do not even get me STARTED on unusual name problems! It seems no one can pronounce my first, middle or last names correctly (and I’m soon to be marrying into a similarly un-pronounceable last name). I used to lament this but I’ve come to love it 🙂

    xx Anastasia //
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:16 pm

      I think your name sounds very glamourous! I remembered that about you when I first saw your blog. Good on you for learning to love it.

  • Barbara Radisavljevic
    23 February 2015 at 2:06 pm

    My maiden name was Hart. My Serbian husband’s last name, now mine, is Radisavljevic. I spend half my life pronouncing it for people. It also translates to “working all the time” and that fits me pretty well. He has no official middle name, but unofficially it’s his father’s first name. He always leaves the middle name blank on anything official.
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Oh wow…you went from Hart to Radisavljevic!! You’re one committed woman 🙂 I’m tempted to take my partner’s surname after we get married only because it would be only 4 letters long {unlike my 9 letter one} and is simple to say!

  • nabanita
    23 February 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t have a middle name…But somehow people find it hard to pronounce my name…Sometimes I feel annoyed while most of the times I don’t care…
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:20 pm

      See I don’t get this Naba…your name sounds so straightforward! But then again, I could be saying it wrong too… 😛

  • Nathan
    23 February 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I’m lucky that my name is pretty “normal”, however I’m going through a period where I’m struggling with nicknames from others. As a kid I never had a nickname – ever! Not even called by my last name, like many of my friends. Now, I get Nat, Nath, Russ, Rusbus (long story) and a multitude of others – never consistent. Half the time i don’t even realise people are talking to me! 🙂
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    • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
      25 February 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Oh nicknames…don’t even get me started on that one! Thanks to auto-correct, some of my friends have nicknamed me Sanchez.

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connection
    23 February 2015 at 7:16 pm

    I love when you go to Bali, each child in the family has the same name -first born is Wayan, 2nd born is Made, 3rd born is Nyoman and 4ht born is Ketut. When I took my kids there they all had a different name and called each other by their new ‘hindu’ name.
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  • elly stornebrink
    23 February 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Oh my! That does sound confusing Sanch and I wonder if it may be similar to the South American way with names. Regardless, I pity you to have to go through all that and explain it when need be. My first name is ‘Elisabeth” though I use Elly, my Dutch name which supposedly means truth and light. I only like that name, Elly, none of my middle or last names in part because most people can’t spell or pronounce my last name! 😉 <3
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  • Rajlakshmi
    23 February 2015 at 8:05 pm

    ohh so much you have to go through for a name. I didn’t change my name after marriage. My maiden name itself is so long… I have no idea which one to minus, which to add.
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  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    23 February 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Now that is an interesting name story, my is rather boring, BUT our kids all have the same middle name, my maiden name as dad had no sons and he was the last person in his family with that particular surname! Maybe one of my boys will carry it on?!
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  • Toni @ Finding Myself Young
    23 February 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Wow what a pain having to explain the whole story all the time! I didn’t realise there were so many cultural traditions to do with last names in India. My first and middle names are just my dad and mums middle names – not very creative.
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  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    23 February 2015 at 9:37 pm

    That is really interesting Sanch, although it would be very frustrating for you in daily life! Now I can understand why some Indian cricketers only have initials for their names – honouring their village and their father. Thanks so much for sharing your experience in not having a real family name too!
    Kirsty @ My Home Truths recently posted…I Must Confess…my middle nameMy Profile

  • swati bassi
    23 February 2015 at 10:19 pm


    Just read your post.
    I have a very simple first name but my surname is very often pronounced in a wrong way which initially embarrassed me a lot, but now i don’t bother my self.
    I am very happy with my names.

    Swati Bassi
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  • Bikram
    23 February 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Everything to do with a NAME .. I have started to hate my name especially on one particular blog because all i ever get to my comments on that sire is THUMBS DOWN… it just the name BIKRAM which has the effect on people .. press the thumbs down he he he he 🙂

    my surnam is pretty simple MANN easy peasy 🙂 but my first name has changed a lot from BIkram to bik to bikky and to B

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  • Zita
    24 February 2015 at 12:55 am

    oh wow, that’s really interesting! Obviously as I am currently travelling I love hearing traditions and stories from other countries! I didn’t know that about the Indian culture!
    I am constantly spelling my name for other people and am surprised how people want to spell my name. Xeda was probably the worst attempt!

  • Shilpa Garg
    24 February 2015 at 2:25 am

    Oh! I hear you! My husband’s name is Kshitij and the number of ways he is called and the way his name is spelt that’s hilarious and ridiculous too. Some call him Kay-shitij and some even call him Satish! 😐
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  • Titaxy
    24 February 2015 at 3:47 am

    same story here. good thing though tht when my parents got my passport made they put my father’s name down as all our (mine and sisters’s) surname instead of both first and last names as given names. so although i don’t technically have a surname or family name, i use my father’s name as that.

  • Ness
    24 February 2015 at 9:04 am

    Oh man, that must be so frustrating to have to explain all the time! My name is quite boring. And I also gave all my boys boring ones too!
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  • Alicia
    24 February 2015 at 11:03 am

    I have a middle name, it’s Maria. Very woggy. My maiden name was just as woggy, was hyphenated and had 16 letters and I don’t think there was a time I didn’t have to spell it out!
    None of my four brothers and sisters had second names, just me.
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  • Janet aka Middle Aged Mama
    24 February 2015 at 11:10 am

    Interesting custom! Hubster’s family is originally from Malta, where the tradition is to give the first born son the same Christian name as his Dad. Very confusing especially if you are trying to do a family history!
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  • Leanda Michelle
    24 February 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Sanch, Names are an interesting subject. I always get… ‘what a lovely name’… and to be honest I’m very grateful my Mum gave it to me. A couple of years ago I took my middle name ‘Michelle’ and legally changed this to my last name. There’s a story behind that♥

  • Vinitha
    28 February 2015 at 12:25 am

    It’s the same for me too. My last name is my father’s name (in record), no family name. It is confusing for people outside Kerala. 🙂
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