No doubt, from time to time, the question enters your mind, "What does it feel like to go through life being called Anand Ramachandran ?"And, I'm sure, after a few futile attempts at finding a satisfactory answer, you go back to doing whatever it was that you were doing earlier, none the wiser. "Sigh", you despair. "I will probably never know", you whisper sadly to yourself, sipping on some blackcurrant tea. Which tastes like hot Ribena. But I digress.
I am here to help you. Let me assure you that it is the only subject on which I am one of the world's leading authorities.
So, what, indeed, is it like to go by this seemingly harmless name ?
While I must admit that it does have its advantages, it is also not without some significant drawbacks.
The main reason for this is that there are numerous individuals who go by the same name - a startling percentage of whom also know each other personally and move in the same extended social circles. And I'm not even taking into consideration here the world-famous LASIK guy. Or that dude who is a big-wig in aviation.
I was blissfully unaware of the Anand Ramachandran proliferation until a few years ago, when I first noticed that another fine gentleman who shares my name would often comment on the Facebook posts of a common friend. A few "Anand Ramachandran and Anand Ramachandran like this" and "Anand Ramachandran likes Anand Ramachandran's comment " incidents later, the whole thing became so kvlt that becoming FB friends was inevitable.
Subsequently, Anand informed me that his brother's name was also Aravind, and that he had been mistaken for me several times. I conveyed my sympathies (it can't be pleasant being mistaken for a writer who has got death threats from crazed cricket fans on the Pakpassion forums), had a good laugh, and that was that.
Until a year or so later, when I finally got to meet him (or so I thought).
It was at one of the craziest parties I have ever attended (which is a whole blog post in itself, probably titled "Two Ducks and A Chinaman". But I digress) when a friend (we will call him Paavamani) excitedly called me and told me that he'd met this guy called Anand Ramachandran whose brother was also called Aravind Ramachandran, and that he was bringing him to the party just for the kvlt. I replied that I already knew him, and couldn't wait to share a beer with the excellently named chap.
A few cigars and beers later, Paavamani and Anand turn up. I excitedly greet them and then we chat about this and that, but mainly about being Anand Ramachandrans with brothers named Aravind. I also learn the bonus factoid that his daughter is my son's classmate - which contributes more towards my head reeling and spinning than all the alcohol I had consumed until that point.
And that wasn't even the strangest part.
That was when he seemed baffled when I started referring to our amusing interactions on Facebook. And he flatly denied that he was friends with me on FB. This caused me to
1. Vigorously shake my head from side to side very rapidly to disperse the clouds that were forming in my brain.
2. Realize that he was NOT the Anand Ramachandran who I had earlier bonded with on Facebook! There was another!
When a man named Anand Ramachandran with a brother named Aravind Ramachandran realizes that the other man called Anand Ramachandran with a brother named Aravind Ramachandran that he has just been sharing a beer with is not the Anand Ramachandran with a brother named Aravind Ramachandran that he thought he was, it is fair to allow him to sit down and quietly reflect for a bit. Which is what I allowed myself to do.
I have never really recovered from the impact of that moment. And every now and then, something happens that considerably worsens the chances that I ever will.
Like that time in Bangalore airport where a gentleman walked up to me, tapped me on the arm and asked "Excuse me - are you Anand Ramachandran ? "
Tempted as I was to respond with a bitingly sarcastic "Which one ?", I thought better of it, shook his hand, nodded and smilingly asked "Yes, I am. Have we met before ? "
Of course, inevitably, his reply was "Yes we have. My name is also Anand Ramachandran."
Normally, my response would have been to look for a chair, sit down and cry. But recent events had hardened me to the impact of meeting unexpected Anand Ramachandrans, so I took it in my stride. Further friendly conversation finally helped it to dawn on me that I had indeed met the guy before. I remembered him well, but only by the nickname "Oms Nandi". The reasons for that could be another blog post altogether on our strange nicknames for the most pleasant of people, which include "Kakkoos Balli", "Beer Beer Indrabeer Badamkheer" and "Mapuchi 2000". But I digress.
At least he has done me the small kindness of inserting a 'Sharma'between the Anand and the Ramachandran to make things slightly easier when I need to mentally sort out and index various Anand Ramachandrans. Thanks, mate.
That was about three months ago. There have been no other sudden Anand Ramachandran incidents since. And I still haven't had the pleasure of meeting the one who started it all.
And if there are any more of you lurking in the woodwork, step out now. Maybe we can have an Anand Ramachandran conference next year.