A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Lots in a name!

Posted by Pepper on May 4, 2011

Yes, that is what I believe. There are a lot of invisible elements woven into your name. It contains a little bit of your identity, a little bit of your personality, a little bit of nostalgia, a little bit of your history, all of that rolled into a package that is your full name. I know a lot of people might disagree and think a name is devoid of all that I mentioned. But for me, a name holds a lot.

Which is why I chose to not change my last name after I got married. I didn’t even add on Mint’s name at the end. Apart from what I mentioned, I had several reasons:

* Changing my name would mean a lot of additional paper work. All my documents, certificates, degrees and passport say a particular name. Getting supporting documents to prove the name change, and applying for new documents in some cases seemed like a huge hassle.

* Mint, like most South Indians does not have a family name. He uses his father’s name as his last name. If I were to change my name, I would have to use his first name as my last name, which sounded quite ridiculous to me. Also, with that we wouldn’t have a common last name anyway.

* I find this practice quite sexist. Enough said.

Having said all that, I do not judge people who do change their last name after marriage. My mom did it, and in fact, most people of their generation did it without much thought. Even today, people continue to do it. They have their reasons and beliefs. I have mine. I thought it was normal to be left to make your own choice. But I suppose, that works only if the choice you make does not deviate from the norm. For people who do make unconventional choices, the road is always difficult.

This is actually an age old discussion that I used to follow on mommy blogs years ago. But at that time, I was not more than 20 years old. I could not relate to the things they said at a very deep level. Now I am married. I haven’t changed my name and I live through those situations they spoke about. It does get maddening.

When we moved into this apartment, the manager put up Mint’s last name next to our apartment number at the entrance of the complex. My last name was no where to be seen. Mint told me to go and talk to her about it, but I chose to ignore it. Honestly, I don’t really care if my name is missing from that place. We later noticed that she had put up only Mint’s name even on our mail box. This time, Mint insisted I go and ask her to put my name there. Because I receive mails too and we don’t want them getting lost, considering there is a different name present on the mail box. When I told her to add my name there, she was quite taken aback and said ‘But you are married’. I retained my cool and told her we were, but we had different last names, so could she put my name there? She continued arguing and telling me how married couples have a common last name and they don’t usually put up two names on the mail box if the apartment is being shared by a married couple. They do it only if two unmarried people are living together. WTF? She was beginning to get on my nerves. We argued for a bit and after a verbal tussle she agreed to put my name on the mail box. The whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth.

Every now and then, my dad questions this decision of mine when we talk on phone. Are you sure you’ve done the right thing by not changing your name, he asks. I start getting mad at him. Why the doubts? He tells me about my cousin, who like me, did not change her last name after marriage. She and her husband bought some joint property together, and how she had a lot of ‘problems because of a different last name’. I don’t quite understand it. Isn’t the marriage certificate good enough proof of your marital status? That is how Mint and I usually get by. So far, the different names haven’t caused too many legal hurdles, but I don’t really know how the road ahead will be.

Mint is one person who really supports this decision of mine. He doesn’t think we should encounter too many problems. I only hope he is right. Because even these small nuisances can be a big pain.


62 Responses to “Lots in a name!”

  1. Mahes said

    I did not change my last name, still have my dad’s name as my last name. Somehow I cannot fathom changing because it’s so ingrained and a new last name would be weird. Moreover no one can really say my husband’s name:) he goes by initials. Actually we must have given our kids’ some shortened form of my hubby’s name, poor kids 😦 Had I known better!

    As far as legal aspects go, I haven’t encountered a single problem yet (in 13 years of married life). We have properties together, so don’t worry.

    • Pepper said

      Exactly. The names are just so ingrained and then having a new or even an added last name would feel quite weird to me..
      I am very relieved to know you’ve not encountered any problems.

  2. Pixie said

    I know what you mean! i haven’t changed my name either and I really don’t think its a big deal.. but, I have faced a lot of questioning on my so-called “decision” to keep my last name!!! 🙄

    We own property and its in our names – different last names including! No issues or hassels… the electricity bill that gets generated for our house in bangalore comes in 2 names – no issues there either..
    So, legally there shouldn’t be any problems…

    Here too, I was asked why I don’t have my husband’s name as my last name by a person I had just met!!

  3. SK said

    Dont worry, you wont have too many problems with different last names. I havent changed mine, and we bought a home in India and in US,car and all sundry stuff, without any hassle. I cannot imagine apt manager arguing about different last names here. I havent had such issues.

    I agree changing last name is sexist.

    • Pepper said

      I was quite unprepared for such an argument by the apt manager. I expected her to just add my name without questioning. I don’t know what her problem was really..
      Thanks for telling me we’ll not run into any legal issues while buying property and stuff..

  4. ~G said

    No legal hassles whatsoever. It’s been six years, three joint properties, one almost school going kid and multiple trips abroad (wrt passport/travel). That is my sister’s story.
    Like her, I too have retained my surname and we too just bought property, have a joint account in multiple banks yada yada. The only thing I find tiring and annoying is the explanation I have to give to random people like landlord/clerk at the bank etc etc.
    Although, there is also a flip to it. The Boy is now known as Mr. at some places and we have to correct people wherever necessary. 😀

    • Pepper said

      Haha! I often add my last name to Mint’s first name and ask him how it sounds? He’s usually pretty cool with the idea 😛
      Thanks for telling me all that. This comment space has put me at ease.. As for the explanations we’ve to give.. I don’t think that’ll stop anytime soon.

  5. Princess Consuela Bananahammock. 😀
    I’m not married, so I probably don’t have a say in this! But, my tiny-weeny brain tells me that as long as Mint and you are okay with the decision you made, you can stand by this for a lifetime! 🙂
    But if you are thinking of applying for a name change, do consider other names such as Pepper. Suits you! 😉

    • Pepper said

      You don’t have to be married to have a say in this… I always have opinions on parenting and child raising, though I am not a parent. Izz okay… Over here, you don’t have to be qualified to speak your mind 😛
      LOL at your last line.. Okay, I might just change my name to Pepper 😉

  6. While i have officially changed my name and added the tall one’s name to the end of mine more for convenience sake and some confusion over my passport name, blah blah blah…But i maintain what’s in a name! to each his own…i am not fussy if my kids dont have my surname…but i know ppl who want their kids to have both!

    • Pepper said

      Okay, it is me who you are talking about. I would like my child to have my surname as well. If for some reason it doesn’tt work out or is not feasible to have 2 last names, I am not the kind to insist and make it a big deal. But yes, I would certainly like it to be that way. Again, I have my reasons.. To each his own works perfectly..

      • Absolutely…i think my primary reason for not insisting my kids get my surname is that you kind of run out of space to write your name. Ask me i think i have all the alphabets in my name.post inclusion of the Tall One’s name

        • Pepper said

          I agree. The space thing is a pain.. which is why I get confused about my stand when I think of my child. But somehow I think if you have 2 last names, your middle name invariably gets dropped out because you can’t be writing such a long name everywhere. So I might just give myself some amount of satisfaction by having it on the birth certificate and other legal documents even if its not commonly used ..

  7. Ashwathy said

    Well… your post is certainly an eye-opener. For all of the reasons you mentioned above…I completely agree…and in fact I’m considering NOT changing my existing surname for the same reasons…

    We have already run into trouble! Imagine! We are planning to go on our honeymoon abroad and the names hassle has already begun. I vehemently opposed having our passports renewed just to add spouses names. For that we’d need to register our marriage earlier than it actually happens (!) and then head to the passport office with that. What a pain!! No thank you we’d rather choose to travel as friends or boyfriend/girlfriend whatever…

    And this is just the tip of the ice berg. Hmm… so apart from the mailbox issue have you encountered this problem anywhere else?? As for your cousin with the issue with the property, even I dont get it. Why is not the marriage certificate not sufficient?? Pls explain…

    • Pepper said

      Oops! You’ve run into probs already? That’s bad. I think the prob is arising here more because you’re not married and want to travel as a married couple. Not so much because you have different last names..
      In this case like you said, its best to travel as friends or whatever..
      Nope, apart from the mail box issue, I haven’t encountered any problems. People keep questioning you, but that’s about it. We’ve applied for visas together as a married couple and all we have to do is submit our marriage certificate along with our application. I don’t quite know the exact issue with the property .. I’ll find out..

  8. RS said

    Hey Pepper,

    Been reading your blog for quite sometime now and enjoying it 🙂 And this topis is something that I get irritated about very often too – I’ve posted about it too a long time back…

    Do drop in to my space sometime 😀


  9. UmaS said

    I agree….its a personal choice and not anyone can be forced into changing their last name.

    I’ve changed my last name – first I didnt have so many documents that needed name change. And most importantly, I never thot the other way – to retain my maiden name – I dont know why I didnt I think of it ??? Is it becos by changing my name, I’ll get set into the new family, more easily ???? God only knows what went thru my mind in that time – I’ve no idea. But, I am OK and have not felt bad later.

    But, so many ppl are retaining their maiden names now. So, that landlady shldnt have made such an issue on that one. Whats the big deal in adding ur name ????

    Even if our mentalities change, the Govt rules are stubborn to change – the legal procedures are damn irritating even when the last names are the same.

    • Pepper said

      See, I suppose you’ve been married for more than a decade. I think most people at that time hardly give it any thought at all. It is one of those customs that you consider a way of life and don’t question much. Its exactly why my mom and all my relatives changed their last name.. So I don’t suppose anything really went through the minds of the people who changed it a while ago….
      I’ve no idea what that lady’s problem was…And I think we’ve to learn to live with the annoying legal processes that come our way, whether the couple has a common name or not.

  10. SH said

    You are my soul sister…I am 100 perc with you on this naming business. I love my name too much for it to be changed. I am not married but I dont intend to change my last name after marriage!

  11. Bikram said

    agree with you a name has a lot about you .. and I remeber onw of my aunt was too much into pandits and all and she would keep saying to change my name not have it with a B, and remove the singh.. I have no why, the funny part was if i changed the names the pandit was saying i would go abroad 🙂 and here i am without changing the name so much for the Pandit ji.

    I love my name and would not change it for anyone .. I do agree with your points I mean if men-women are equal then it shud be upto the woman if she wants to change the name or take here husbands name etc..
    I dont know about the legal hassels with different names but as far as i know i dont think there should be a problem.. 🙂

    All the best 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I somehow don’t have much faith in those pandits who suggest a change of spelling in your name and then predict stuff.. So I wouldn’t ever consider all that..
      Yes.. a woman should have the right to make her own choice and decide whether she wants to change her name or not. Going by the number of girls who retain their name after marriage, I think this is not too problematic an issue 🙂

  12. I havent changed my last name too although G has a family name. My only saving grace at the time of traveling to the US was that we dint have the time to change my last name which, going by my naivety at the time, I’d have gladly agreed to change it had we had the time. So my last name on all my documents is still my family name and not G’s. I blogged about it too http://snippetsnscribbles.wordpress.com/2009/07/30/of-changing-names-and-managing-expectations/

    Like you, even I had ignored to put my name on the mailbox. And once I started receiving mails, the mailman one day buzzed me and told me to put my last name on the box too so that my mails dont get lost because it was missing a name. It was an eye opener for me and we immediately put it up. Thankfully, in this apt complex, tenants put their own names up 🙂 So a piece of paper and scotch tape will do it all 🙂

    I have not been questioned by my parents yet. I think they know it is a touchy subject and so dont question me. After the first encounter with my MIL on this subject, it hasn’t come up again at all. Now even G doesn’t bother asking me cos he knows my stance.

    But I know the subject isn’t closed yet in our house 🙂 So I should just be prepared to take it on whenever it comes up 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Well yes, I used the immediate travel as an excuse to not change my name at that time. A while ago when my mil questioned me, I told her I’ll think about it later when I have to renew my passport. I wish I could just tell her I don’t intend doing it. I read your post, you were brave. I am always chicken.. I’ll tell Mint to deal with them if need arises..
      Your apartment complex is pretty cool. Here we can’t just glue it ourselves.. they’ve to put up properly pinning the individual letters of the name.. 🙂
      My parents are only worried about us running into legal hassles.. otherwise they don’t care either ways..

  13. ajay said

    Unlike what Shakespeare said, there’s a lot in a name. That practice of adopting surname is indeed sexist and should be done away with.

  14. Roop said

    i don’t think anyone cares about me. no one questioned my decision of keeping my last name. they thought that to be the only way it’s meant to be. so far no problems. except a few times when hotel staff (when we traveled in India) referred to pati as Mr. Rai lol cuz rooms were all booked by me under my name.

  15. Preethi said

    Hi Pepper – I loved reading your blog and have to stay that your eyes are very beautiful .

    I too didnt change my change after marriage and I havent encountered any problem so far.

    If you think changig surname is sexist…I know a guy who changed his wife’s name to a heroines’s name just because he likes that heroine. She is introduced to us by the new name and none of our friends know her true name. I was really shocked when I heard this and I am even more surprised how the girl agreed to this. Sorry for the long comment.

  16. vandana said

    Even I never changed my name after marriage…and funnily enough I do not know of anyone who questioned me on this ..maybe they wonder abt it but nobody has ever asked me anything…maybe because I live so far off from all the relatives ..or because nobody much asks for my full name except in office where my name continues 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Its a little surprising.. people who haven’t changed their names post marriage seem to be the majority here, while I expected it to be the other way round. Good to know nobody questions you. We live far away from the relatives too, and I don’t think they should be a prob. I was only worried about other issues.. but looks like there are none 🙂

  17. Comfy said

    Growing up I was never too fond of my last name. It was difficult; no one could say it right, etc. But somewhere down the line I fell in love with it. While most had common last names mine was unique.

    When we got married the change of name never even came up. The one time someone asked us about it D got on that person’s case before I could even open my mouth. 😀

    Never have had any issues with having different last names in all the years we have been married and don’t think we will have any in the future either.

    • Pepper said

      Same here.. I kind of disliked my last name while growing up for certain reasons .. but now I love it! Very nice of D to got on to that person’s case. Hopefully that person won’t bring it up with another couple again 😀
      I am happy to note nobody has had any issues so far 🙂

  18. avymom said

    I haven’t yet changed my name, though it was not intentional. The hassle of paperwork has daunted me. But now after a kid, I am starting to beleive, lot of things are easier with same last name. I did not think twice to give my kid ny huband’s name as the last name, which I do have a tough time to accept sometimes, seems slightly sexist, but whatever it works. It is just a name and to me am starting to realize saves hassles in lot of places. i went through the same thoughts you have, but now it does not bother me anymore at all, becuase I know how my family works on the inside and I think maybe all this growing up came when I got close to 30…LOL

    • Pepper said

      The paperwork is daunting indeed. Choosing a last name for the kid is tough..
      Good to know you don’t bother anymore :).. Perhaps getting close to 30 will do that to me too.. 😀

  19. Hey Pepper I have a similar post in my drafts. It sound very similar to this post, but I will publish it soon.

  20. scorpria said

    Long-comment-ahead alert!!

    I never changed my last name. Well, in fact, I haven’t changed any part of my name! And I won’t.
    For many reasons:
    – I think it’s very sexist (and when I told Suraj that, he changed his name on FB, Orkut and all such sites to “Suraj Priya” so I returned the favour 😉 :D)
    – It’s a part of my identity, I’m used to being known by that name and I cannot imagine being called/known by a different name.
    – All the people I’ve met in life before know my by my name; imagine them having to suddenly go all over again with the “Hi, I’m ___; and you (now) are ??” 😀
    – Suraj fell in love with me while I had this name; I really think it’s an INTEGRAL part of our relationship 😀
    – I CANNOT change my signature again. It was after a full year of trials, errors and eeeks later that I came up with this!
    – I’m basically rebellious, and I like deviating from the norm 😉 No name change for me.
    – All these years, I’d give my name somewhere without having to worry about someone asking me for proof. If i change it, I’ll have to submit a proof every time. How weird and crazy is that!?

    All jokes apart, in my case, there’s extra pressure to change my name, coming from the in-laws. I, a hindu, married a christian. Apparently, most of the in-law’s friends and acquaintances still have no clue I am hindu. So, “Priyadarshini J Nayar” is a very hindu-ish name, and gives it away too easily. They think I should change my name to “Priya Suraj” [i’m sure tey want it so badly coz, both “Priyadarshini” and “Nayar” are definite hindu names, while “Priya Suraj” is as neutral as it can get]. So, this is one of the most recent “main” reasons I will NOT change it 😛 😀

    We recently bought an apartment in the name of “Suraj Thomas” and “Priyadarshini J nayar” 😀 The in-laws took care of the paperwork as we were in Blore, and the apartment was in Kerala. It required a lot of paper work which drove the in-laws crazy — but I patiently signed all of them (all except the ones they suggested I sign for the name-change procedures, which would have saved a million other signatures :D)

    Even otherwise, I don’t think the longevity or the love involved in a marriage depends on whether you change your name or not. I think it’s rubbish.

    OK, I won’t spam this space anymore than I’ve already done.

    • Pepper said

      Wow! Suraj changed his name to Suraj Priya.. I am curious to know how his family reacted 😀
      I agree, the name is a part of our relationship and changing the signature is a phenomenal pain..
      I can imagine the pressure considering there are 2 diffferent religions involved.. tell me how you cope with the pressure in future :D.. Oh btw, in my opinion.. Suraj also sounds like quite a hindu name!

      • Scorpria said

        Hahaha…i said he changed it on FB, Orkut, Gmail, etc 😀

        Hahaha…it’s quite a hindu name, Suraj. As hinduish as it can get 😛 In fact, saved me many explanations when i initially spoke about him to the extended family “This is Suraj” So, no questions asked, till later, i say “Suraj, as in Suraj Thomas” 😀 😀

        • Pepper said

          Changing it on those platforms is enough! Most people will see that name now. So cool! 😀
          Lol! I am sure it saved you so many explanations… I love his name you know 😀

  21. Meira said

    My surname’s been difficult for people to remember always. TS’s surname tops mine in the difficulty domain! This was the main reason I’m keeping my name as is. I haven’t any problems so far with the surname, but getting a marriage certificate is turning out to be the troublemaker at our end 😦

  22. Smitha said

    I haven’t changed my last name either. Have lived in three countries, bought property together , and have faced no issues – touchwood. I think it is just a small percentage of people who harass people just because they can. Forget about me, my mum did not change her name, and she and dad have properties together, plenty of investment together, and have completed 36 years together 🙂

    And anyway, I feel very strongly about my name, it has been my identity for so long, that I did not feel comfortable changing my name.

    So don’t worry, a name should cause us so much worry. We haven’t had any name related problems in the last 10 years 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Your mom didn’t changer her name? That’s very impressive. Most people in their generation do 🙂
      I feel strongly about my name too.. It definitely holds some of your identity..
      No issues in 10 years? Great! I am sure I won’t have any problem them.. 🙂

  23. S said

    You won’t believe.. I have seen cases where not just the last name, even the actual name is changed after marriage!!
    How ridiculous could it get!

    • Pepper said

      Haha! My mom did that.. It’s beyond ridiculous and extremely sexist. Its just considered to be a part of tradition in my dad’s family. I don’t think my mom ever considered having it any other way. If she had spoken up, perhaps she needn’t have done it..

  24. Deboshree said

    In your case it’s just a last name. I know plenty of people who transform into this totally new existence! I wonder how they live with it… didn’t they have a life before marriage? Or are they willing to wipe everything away?

    I am glad you made a decision you believe in. 🙂

  25. Ch4 said

    Peppermint would be a nice name for your blog 🙂

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