Indians have a different take on names, including English ones, than we do. For instance, there is a school in Hyderabad called ‘Mother’s Lap’. Now, this would be a fine name for a play school in the US, but this school is K-12! If you think about it, it’s a beautiful name from a mother’s point of view, but can you imagine how an American high school kid would feel about it? In our culture, it wouldn’t even be remotely possible.

Another interesting name I noticed recently when I was in Chennai, and one that would tend to keep Westerners away, is a restaurant called ‘Hotel Runs’ [in Indian English, a hotel can just be a restaurant that doesn’t have any lodging attached, and that is probably the most common usage of the word]. It doesn’t seem to be a Tamil word, so I have no idea what it might mean. Maybe it’s a good restaurant, but it certainly wouldn’t be popular among Americans. It’s rather like calling it the ‘Delhi Belly Restaurant’ or the ‘Salmonella Restaurant’, which effectively has about the same meaning in American English as ‘Hotel Runs’. Er, that’s not very encouraging somehow.

What names have you noticed in India that could never work in the West due to cultural differences?

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