By dAyi Hamid Bern, Switzerland January 1996 The Iranian I remember in the mid-seventies in Iran, when it had become sort of fashionable to change one's name. Batool was Betty and KobrA was Katty.
A friend of mine has an uncle whose name is Pirooz and now he calls himself Victor. And a cousin of mine, living in L.A., used to be Akbar, now he's Fred (sounds like a hamster).
I met him in '81 in Sweden and asked him about the change. He said: “Akbar is an Arabian name and I hate Arabs.” My name is Arabian too, but I never imagine changing it to an English name.
It's nice to have a pure Persian name, but what's the use of changing an Arabian name to an English one. Historically, Arabs have not been so nice to our country, but Anglo-Saxons have been even worse.
In German speaking countries, there are student unions in universities and Polytechnics that have a very long tradition where every member gets an over-name, the so-called “Cerevis”.
All the members call their union friends with the Cerevis and after some years they don't even know the original names anymore.
I am a member of a union in Zurich and my Cerevis is Harus. As my uncle Reza from Atlanta was here some years ago and saw my Cerevis on a letter from the union, he admitted that his name in America is Roy.
He didn't believe that Harus is my union name and that I haven't chosen it myself. He couldn't tell me why he changed his name either.
I understand those expatriates who had a tough time with their obvious Iranian names during the hostage affair in Tehran. I also understand when many foreigners can't pronounce KH the way we do.
I can think of one name in particular, starting with KH and ending with RO, which someone living in America, for example, would want to change and save himself constant embarrassment. But these are exceptions.
So, what is it? Why change our name? Isn't it one of the most important parts of our cultural identity? Haven't we inherited it from our parents and grand parents? Or is this issue beyond my IQ?
The interesting thing is, I've never met any Iranian in Europe with a changed name. It seems to be more of an America fad.