Home Columns Anantha Narayan Panty and Friends

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    Panty is a very coy word. At least, in India. Ita��s not to be bandied about in public. But if youa��ve ever been to any of the IITs, chances are youa��d have heard the boys talking about a�?Pantya�� excitedly as if it were their chaddi-buddy. Thata��s because anyone with the surname a�?Panta�� is often addressed with this nickname.
    Scandalous, smart and striking nicks are a common feature at the IITs. If youa��re skinny, youa��ll probably be called a�?Papera��. If you look undernourished but have a prominent rump, youa��ll be christened a�?Paperweighta��. A little obesity may earn you an a�?Appua�� (remember, the Asiad elephant?). A lanky fellow may become a�?Gannaa�� (Hindi for sugarcane). A rather well-endowed girl gets a�?Oopsa�� (Out of proportions). A typical thayir-saadam case may be branded as a�?Fruita��. And the one who gets the most moist-eyed is a�?Sentia�� (short for sentimental).
    Apart from these usual suspects, sometimes your name decides your nickname. If you happen to be Badrinarayanan, expect to be hailed as a�?Batterya��. The Prabhakarans of the world cana��t escape the a�?LTTEa�� tag. G Ram Prasad may get zipped into GRamP or just a�?Grumpya��. Ram Bhaskaran will be reduced to the geeky a�?Rhombusa��. A Bhoopalan may be surgically altered into a�?Boobsa��. An Aravind Kuttan may get a firang makeover with a�?Orkuta��. But the Balakrishnans have, for centuries been, blessed with the same old a�?Ballsa��. Mannerisms and behavioural traits also have a say in the choice of nicknames. Gadget freaks attract the label a�?Qa�� (the man behind the crazy weaponry in James Bond flicks). Flatulent blokes are given missile names such as a�?Scuda��. Those who butter up get a�?Soapa��. The one with access to colourful reading material is a�?Pondya��. The sleepy ones get a�?Charasia��. And the rote champions are always a�?Maggusa��.
    Campus sobriquets with stories are the most liked. There was once a lad from Goa. During ragging, he was mocked as a�?Son of a beacha��. Someone saw the potential in it and hit upon the name a�?Marinaa��! Another chap had a hairdo that resembled a porcupine which incidentally sounds like porukki payan (or rascal in Tamil). From that day, his hostel mates termed him as a�?Porkia��. Although these may sound like name calling, the fact remains that nicks are always meant to be taken in the right spirit.


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