Column: Don’t Go By A Surname

(Please note: This is my weekly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

Earlier this week, a couple of my Goan friends ganged up against all the Mangloreans we know and picked on a friendly fight. Yes, it was friendly. No one was hurt. We were actually just picking on their traits and taking their case. Despite Mumbai being home to a lot of communities, we still judge people based on where they come from. And what gives us the cue is their surname. But sometimes, even the surname is misleading.

Let’s begin with my surname – D’Costa. Let me confess, I thought only Goans had this awesome surname. Any last name that started with the letter D followed by an apostrophe were of Goan origin. Then came the day when I was introduced to a girl who belonged to my tribe. And guess what, she turned out to be a Mangii. D’Costa? Mangii? I couldn’t picture her to be fun-loving Goan anymore. But this doesn’t end here. A bunch of D’Souzas, D’Silvas and D’Sas are all Mangiis.

The myth about Mangiis is that they are stingy. I know a few who are, but I know a lot of Mangaloreans who open their wallet even before I can reach to mine. Goans are expected to be fun-loving and susegad. I agree, we are fun-loving, but Goans in Mumbai are fast paced. After a couple of years, this city starts growing on you, and till then you would have shed the susegad part of you.

It’s weird how we start judging everyone based on their surname. If you’re a Dutta, you must be a Bong. But wait, my Dutta friend is from Madhya Pradesh. Luckily, my Pote friend is a Maharashtrian as the last name suggests. A Khudanpur is a South Indian and a Thomas is from Kerala.

Again, when I joined Sophia College, there was a Cabral in my class. The moment I read her name on the list, I was excited because I assumed she is a Goan. I assumed this because I had a Cabral professor in my junior college in Goa. Well, she turned out to be an East-Indian.

I recently met a guy and his last name is John. I know a lot of Johns who are East-Indians. So to satisfy my curiosity, I asked him if he too was one. I’m a Mallu, he said. But aren’t all Johns East-Indians? Of course, not! This is the lesson I learnt.

However, I’m yet to come across a Fernandes who is not a Goan. That will be quite difficult, I guess.

About the Goan-Mangii arguments, we have them quite often. We have them because we enjoy rubbing in their ancestral traits. We also pick up on their Konkani accent and how funny it sounds. But doesn’t Konkani have many dialects? This is just one of them.

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