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‘Nick’ Names

In my childhood, most of my friends had nicknames at home (like Chintu, Bablu, Banti etc) while I was always called Nikhil by my Parents. Many times when we 8-10 year olds would discuss about each other’s nicknames I usually felt lost. I had little inkling then that I would end up with as many as 3-4 nicknames.

The first nickname was given to me by my Grandfather – I am the third in the trio of elder cousins in our (extended) family. Among the three of us we have a difference of one year between each one of us and the next cousin after me is a little more than two years younger to me. Hence, during those childhood days, I was called ‘Chhotu’ by my Grandfather. But he soon discontinued this name when younger cousins and my real Brother Abhishek were born. That explains why I had no nickname during my childhood days.

My brother used to call me Dada (Marathi for elder brother); so during my teens younger children of our street also called me by the same name. When some of my friends found this name they too started calling me by the same name. Soon the name became so popular that not only friends but everyone with the exception of my parents started calling me by this name - even those who were elder to me! The shortened form of the name - ‘Da’ is still my name for those who know me from those times. Once during the third year of my engineering, I dialed a school friend and the conversation started like this:
Me: "Vishal? Nikhil bol raha hoon!"
He: "Hain? Haan Kaun?"
Me: "Nikhil, yaar .. itni jaldi to mat bhool mujhe!!"
He: "Abe kaunsa Nikhil hai tu?"
Me: "Abe main Dada bol raha hoon!!"
He: "Arey!!! Dada ... arey aisa bol na, main na jaane kaun kaun se door ke rishtedar ka naam soch raha tha - agli bar phone kariyo to Nikhil nahi Dada naam batana - tumhe isi naam se yaad rakhte hain"

When I moved to college in Bhilai, ‘Da’ was left behind in Bhopal. As the trend of any Engineering college goes, I was known by my surname ‘Kulkarni’ initially. But soon, Kulkarni shortened to Kullu; but even that was short-lived. Those days a song ‘Kallu Mama’ was very popular. A friend created a spoof of it on me – Kullu Mama – from it and within a few days, the Kullu became extinct while ‘Mama’ stuck! All my engineering mates know me by the name Mama even today.

I was not very fond of my nickname in college, so I tried my level best that it would not carry forward, and it did not. Yet I got a nickname in NITIE – again in a peculiar way. I had once played a prank with my friend Arijit Ghosal by multicasting his photograph with .. ahem .. someone, on the network. Arijit kept looking for a way to revenge – he got his chance when he obtained my photograph taken during our batch trip to Matheran. He then edited the photo to add a beard to my face and don me with a saffron robe and multicasted it along with a spoof write up titled ‘Baba Nikhilanand Swami’! The Nikhilanand Swami withered away within a less than a day but ‘Baba’ stuck. Baba became so synonymous with me, that with exception of the official roll list, I was referred to as Baba everywhere – whether it was the committee listing or responsibility chart for Prerana.

My nicknames have thus followed a pattern – from Dada, to Mama, to Baba – almost like growing up from one generation (Dada = elder brother), to the next (Mama means Uncle in Hindi) and then being elevated to ascetic life ;) (Ascetics are often called Baba in India)

And the latest addition to this list is Nick! In the latest flick Salaam-Namaste, Saif whose real name in the movie is Nikhil, is nicknamed Nick. Some of my colleagues have started calling me Nick after watching this movie. That would actually make quite apt a Nickname (pun intended)!!


  1. Yo Nick!... didn't your workmates gave you a name yet!... ;)

    have fun... (you forgot one name... the IP name... "Bill Gates"!


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