What’s in a name?–The origin of Satti


There are numerous people who ask me “Dude, why are you called Satti?” This is an answer to all those people. If you believe there are others whom I know and who will benefit from this knowledge, feel free to share. I loathe giving links to my blog to people other than the ones I want but this one time, I would like this post to spread if possible. Also, if you feel this is tl;dr, simply scroll to the bottom slightly above the first edit. The whole post has been summarised there.

Nicknames are very common. People need some way to identify someone other than the formal christening your parents did when you were born. Nicknames are not the same as pet names, in my opinion.

Pet names are given in the spirit of love. Your parents or family gives you pet names so that all their love for you finds an outlet when simply seeking you. Pet names are *invariably* cute sounding. They may make the victim gag every time he is called but your parents and family love it. They believe it symbolises your entire personality in one word. Another alternative is that they simply call you that because it got stuck. For instance, my pet name is madhu. Not many people know that. I don’t care divulging the fact because there is no way in all the seven, nine or odd numbered hells that someone will use my pet name over my all encompassing nickname (which I shall get to eventually). Also, it does not symbolise my personality much. Madhu literally means sweet. It also means liquor. I am neither obliging enough to be called sweet nor euphoria-inducing enough to be (metaphorically) called liquor.

Nicknames, on the other hand, start out in weird ways. They also propagate in weirder ways. Mostly, it is given in the spirit of demoralisation. For instance, there may be a bully who feels that whatever your parents christened you is not good enough for you, does not roll easily off his tongue because of retarded muscle motor control or does not suit his taste. The name sticks because other people feel the same way or do not want to be targets of said bully. Hence, what starts out as the result of a retarded inferior intellect trying to brawn his way through the world of oral eloquence changes your life forever. It propagates when people tend to call you the same name in front of friends from other circles.

But nicknames are simply that – nicknames. They stick for a small time and then they are forgotten and you remember it when you go to some high school reunion and someone calls you by the retarded christening you received in your adolescence (possibly the same bully) and it brings back memories. You go through college and work as though the name never existed.

In my special case though, it is an E-N-T-I-R-E-L-Y different story. To start off, my nickname is Satti. I shall get to its etymology eventually. What started off as a nickname has become so ubiquitous, people have no idea what my real name is. It’s Anirudh. Anirudh Ramesh. Or R.Anirudh, as I am otherwise known. NOT satti. I am not kidding you when I tell you that the generic situations I am about to confess happens on a weekly basis.

Situation 1

I am talking to someone and they start relating a story which involved telling my name. They tell me how they forgot my name entirely and just told the other person “Satti <this>” or “Satti <that>” and the other person instantly understood I was being referred to. Then, the person relating this story to me has the absolute <insert decent vernacular for 2 globules of courage every man is said to possess> to ask me what my real name actually is. To say that it pisses me off is an understatement. Dear <dude-who-will-do-this-to-me-in-the-future>, my real name is Anirudh. Put that through your head. I will give it to you in writing. I am highly adept at technology and will save it on your phone if you want. Even your Google contact list. Just don’t ask me that question as though you can never remember it when I tell you the first time.

Situation 2

I am talking in a group where similar story is being related. The storyteller drops my name as Anirudh either by mistake or for obsessiveness in getting the details right about the event. Dude number 1 interrupts and asks who Anirudh is. Dude number 2 asks the same question. Now, in this case, dude number 1 is actually naive about my real name. Dude number 2 simply wants to salt my wound, stoke my fire-of-rage, add butter to my cauldron of anger .. call it what you want, he just wants to piss me off. Dear dude number 2, please stfu. Dude number 1, there are other elements in the story. Far more important characters who are the essence of the story. Yet, you unfailingly focus on that one part which is trivial and yet enough to piss me off.


Pliss to be listening to all of story next time. Ok va?

Situation 3

I am talking to one dude when talk of Facebook or Twitter pops up.

One dude: “Macha, add me on Twitter/Facebook da. I just created an account … blah blah”

Me: “Yeah cool.” *whips out smartphone*

Dude: *whips out better smartphone* “Oh yeah, dude. I sent your a friend request already man. You were in the suggested list and I was like … Who the hell is Anirudh Ramesh? Lol. Then I saw your photo and sent the request. Just change the name to Satti man. Lulzzzz”

Me: *fake polite laughter*

Dear “One dude”, that is so not funny. If you were trying to make an impression on someone based on the factor of mirth alone, I’d give you a 1.5/10 along with a reverse handed bitch slap for insolence. Moron.

Anyhoo, each of these situations serves to remind me that I am hardly known by my official name anywhere. And now, as promised, I shall discuss its etymology.

I keep getting asked this question – “Dude, why are you called Satti, man?”. So I took it upon myself to go back in time, find the guy who gave me the nickname and then request Chuck Norris to roundhouse kick him to oblivion. I was only partly successful. Although I found the origin, it wasn’t of the name Satti, but of the first nickname Chatti. But I defer chronos if I don’t sequence the events. So here we go:

1) I joined a new school in 11th and since my physical appearance is no small matter (quite literally), I was more than ready for verbal assaults. The first few days were fine. Then it started. The first of them was given by this dude. I was called “Ammikallu” which is Tamil for the “Wet grinder stone” which looks like this:


Now, I’ll be honest here. I knew I was rotund but cylindrical? It puzzled me no end but only for a day. Not dwelling on insults is one of my better virtues. For a long time, I was simply called “ammi”.

2) A few months later (I was still in eleventh), this dude felt (with a precise notion of the third dimension) that I looked like a chatti – a kind of pot used for cooking sambar which looks like this:


Frankly, even I believed this suited me better. Not that I could have refuted a nickname in any case. Why? Murphy’s Law for nicknames – the more you deny it, the more it spreads. Ok, I made that up but you know it’s true.

3) The chatti nickname never caught on much actually. But that was the origin for Satti. My memory fails me in trying to pinpoint who it was who first anglicised chatti to satti. But by the middle of twelfth, it had spread so fast, people from other schools knew me only as satti. Hell, they thought that was my real name :/ .. But fact is that by this time, I had forgotten who started it all. I was flummoxed that I couldn’t remember the person who gave me the nickname.

4) Now, the guy who gave me the nickname did not know how pervasive it had become. So one random day, some girl in class calls me by Satti. By this time, I had totally given up trying to tell people to call me by my real name and I started responding to the nickname (with a hint of pride for the uniqueness of it, I might add). But the guy next to me was in splits for 5 minutes. After he got his breath back, I asked him what was so funny. Then he reminded me how he had given me the nickname and how funny it was that it had spread so fast.

When I came to college, I thought I was rid of the nickname once and for all. But it was not to be. Not only were some of my friends from school over here (whom I could have convinced to call me by my real name) but there was this guy as well. There was no convincing him and since I hanged out with him a lot in the first few months, the nickname spread like wildfire leading to above said situations.

I am not complaining though. Far from being derogative (as it was no doubt, originally meant to be), it has become highly unique. The name Satti – although it does not open closed doors or provide access to classified government files – does command a sort of recognition, no doubt compounded by my own unique physical features.

However unique though, I am not going to make it my official name. I’m not kidding when I say this but sometimes, I get so irritated by the situations such as I’ve shown above that I consider the name changing proposal just to make my life easier. So, here are the salient points you must take from reading this post:

1) My real (read – official) name is R. Anirudh.

2) My nickname is Satti.

3) There is no meaning as such to Satti but it originated from chatti which is a kind of cooking pot.

4) You have just wasted a few minutes of your life filling your head with absolutely useless information 😛

I don’t know how many changes this nickname will undergo. There are a few people who call me with many variants – slutty, jeddi, sattu, sats, sato etc. But I do sincerely thank the guy who came up with the nickname (satti, not chatti). Whoever you are, mate, you’ve given me some sort of alternate identity. I could create passports with this name and people wouldn’t even think twice about it.

PS: I know I address people I’m pissed off with in first person. Don’t point it out to me.

Edit: I also have a full nickname – Sattinathan Ramamoorthy. The origin to that is a very short story. On my twelfth excursion, we were made to play this extremely gay game where we had to remember the name of the guy next to us. This fellow was standing next to me. When asked my name, he instantly replied “Satti”. The game organiser didn’t believe that. So he instantly created a full nickname for me … and that’s that.