Some time ago I wrote about the numerous castes and sub castes that divide us Indians. One such caste is the Brahmins. Among this large group there are hundreds if not thousands of subgroups and one of them is the predominantly Tulu [a dialect] speaking Brahmins who reside in the coastal region of Karnataka. Like in any other caste for the social functions of these communities only those who belong to this sub caste are invited and therefore when I found a Tambram [short form for Tamil Brahmin] Thyagarajan in one such function, I was naturally surprised. I know Thyagarajan pretty well and wondered whether his wife is a Tulu Brahmin and he by marriage qualified for the invitation. But I had met with his wife and she did not look or behave like a Tulu Brahmin woman. Still I was glad to see him after two years and went to him to exchange pleasantries. Seeing me he gave a smile of recognition and asked me how am I doing. I said fine and asked him, ‘Thyagu, how is that you are here at this function?’ He appeared surprised,’ he said, my name is not Thyagu, it is Srikrishna and Col Acharya is my father in law'. The function was a housewarming ceremony of Col’s new home and naturally the son in law has the right to be invited. A bit crestfallen at the mistaken Identity, I apologized which was well received.
Some months later I met him again in another function which was secular and there were persons belonging to all communities as the local bank had called a customer meeting. This time when I confronted him I began,’ you know Thyagu, what happened last time’, and proceeded to narrate the story of mistaken identity. He heard the story in stoic silence and said,’ doctor, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I am not Thyagu, My name is Srikrishna and we met last time at my father in law’s house warming ceremony’. I was taken aback. Such uncanny resemblance and speech! Again apologies were in order but were accepted with some asperity.
There was another function where the participants were mostly Tulu speaking Brahmins and this time too I found Thyagarajan, sorry, Srikrishna. I made sure that he is indeed Srikrishna and then went to meet with him and to prove correct the third time. On seeing me coming towards him, he hurriedly got up and walked to another corner obviously afraid that I would once more call him Thyagu!
I did not have the heart to chase him to prove to him that this time I have indeed made the recognition right.