What's with my Name?
How does 'Ragunathan Rajkumar' become 'Raj Rajkumar'? Is the latter my shaken, not stirred, version of "Bond, James Bond"? Or should I not spell the first Raj as Rag? Uggh!
Ok, here's the deal. In the US naming system, I go by the official name "Ragunathan Rajkumar". This turns out to be patronymic in origin (bet you didn't know that word, did you?).
My birthname was/is R. Raj Kumar, where "R." is an "Initial" that stands for my father's name. My Dad was named S. K. Ragunathan, where his initial "K." stood for the name of his father (my paternal grandfather) and the other initial "S." stood for my father's paternal grandfather (my great grandfather). From where I hail, some use more than one initial, see? Some use an additional initial to represent the name of the city/town/village he/she comes from. Still with me?
So, to make a long story short, my "given" name is Raj Kumar.
In my high school, everybody called me Raj - no kidding - this was thanks to a Canadian instructor (a great person, btw) belonging to the Brothers of Holy Cross who called me that; I was Raj Kumar at home and my brother is Mohan Kumar. In college (i.e. at my undergraduate institution), my friends called me Raj Kumar. There is nothing wrong with having a space in there. If you are used to having names with no built-in spaces, it's not a law of nature - it's (y)our convention. Conventions, customs, cultures and even values can differ. As they should! Life's a lot more interesting that way.
When I came to the US of A, one "needs" a family name - I just expanded my initial to become "Ragunathan Rajkumar" opting to keep Rajkumar as my "family name". As an intended side-effect, my wife and kids have the same family name "Rajkumar" here as I do. So, it is indeed a real family name now.
When you call me Ragu, Ragunath or Ragunathan (assuming you can pronounce even approximations of any of these - please try a few times, and you too shall succeed ;-), I don't relate to any of them as my moniker - all those variants were for my father. Call me Raj and I'll be with you in just a second!