Monday, January 2, 2017


What’s in a name? Such an open-ended question can have a multitude of answers, often depending on a given name for consideration. Some proud parents would really work on trying to give their baby a meaningful name, or they’d take the easy route and just name the tyke off the dad, or some other relative they’d like to honor. Entrepreneurs opening businesses would also like to think up a catchy name for their enterprise that will capture the public and turn them into potential customers. Back to the example of parents, what do they do when a name they approve of for their child becomes a hot topic to the people around them, and not in a good way?

This is pretty much the dilemma facing Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan (Pataudi), a showbiz power couple in India’s Bollywood. Khan is the son of a famous cricket player and a Bollywood actress. Kareena is the third generation of a famous Bollywood family. But even their stellar pedigrees are not quite enough to make them immune to a sudden spike in bad press after they revealed the name of their newborn son, Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi. Their reasoning for picking Taimur is that it literally means the word “iron”, a strong name; but that’s not what the detractors are freaking out about.

See, Taimur is also the Indian name of an infamous figure in medieval history, a Turkic-Mongol warlord named Timur from modern-day Uzbekistan who founded an empire encompassing Persia and Central Asia (including India). An injury to both his right arm and leg in youth led to his being known as Timur the Lame, which in the West was shortened to Tamerlane, a conqueror-ruler of the same weight class as Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. When Timur began his conquest of India, he ended up killing a lot of Hindus in the 14 th Century.

And such a memory remains fresh in modern day India, judging by the bile that’s being thrown at Kareena and Saif – Saifeena for short, for their apparently “ignorant” naming sense. One of the more biting Twitter commentaries against the name of their baby is that doing so was the same as a European couple naming their child “Hitler”.

But while there were many who denounced the name of baby Taimur due to the distant past historical records of Mongol atrocities in India centuries ago, there were still those who came to Saifeena’s defense in their right to name their boy as parents. Here’s hoping for the best with them.

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