Hi, I’m Sam. Sam Francisco

I like sci-fi stories, and one of my favorites from the 80’s was Alien Nation. In it, these aliens arrive on Earth, and obviously having unpronouncable names, they adopt or are given silly or nonsensical names, like the lead detective, Sam Francisco.

Similarly, immigrants to the states have often been given or anglicized their names to more easily assimilate. South Indian immigrants to the states are no exception. Traditionally, the men are given three names: hometown, father’s name, given name, with friends addressing one another by their given name. Thus, the Western convention of first, last doesn’t gel.

My father, for example, is Gangaikondan Sundaram Krishna (or G.S. Krishna for short). Like many South Indians, he chose to use his given name as the family last name to simplify matters. And, in business circles, my dad showed mercy on his colleagues and took on the name “Kris”. Hence, Kris Krishna. You’ll see Sam Sampath’s and other variants out there as well.

So my last name is also my father’s first name. And my traditional name would be G.K. Anand (not N.K. for New York, where I was born)–home village refers to ancestral village (so you can trace roots), and the system was no doubt created at a time when people didn’t move around quite so much–“star alliance” had a very different meaning…

Anyway, this is the usual tangential lead to a nice article about my uncle Mani’s business. “Mani” (like cash) is short for Subramanian. He’s my mom’s brother, and is doing nicely filling a niche in Silicon Valley. If you know of folks in the Bay Area who are interested in trying out South Indian food (it’s quite different–and more yummy–than the usual North Indian style cuisine found at most Indian restaurants) please send along this link.

Batter up!

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