My name is Rita. And most of the conversations with new people in India happen to me like this:
-What’s your name?
-Oh, you have an Indian name!…
Sometimes I add that my full name is Margarita – it is very popular in my country (Russia) to shorten the names for daily life usage and to use full names as formal. Well, in India it’s not really popular thing to do. It is more popular here for parents to give their children nicknames that are not at all similar to their formal names and call them like this at homes, while formal names are used everywhere else. So I normally should say I am Margarita here all the time. But yet, I choose Rita for a few reasons I will mention below.
In general, when I say about my full name, some people simply reply: “Oh, I see then.” But some people add that Christian girls in India can also be named Margarita (but there aren’t too many of them, especially in Delhi).
Sometimes I also start to add that, in fact, Rita is a very international name and can be found in different countries: not only in the countries of the former USSR, but also in Latin America, in the USA, in Europe, and in some other Asian countries – and then Indian people just look at me for a long time without saying anything – don’t know what they think in that moment but it seems like they would be more happy to think I have actually an Indian name. And sometimes I really do feel that some Indian people are just way too focused on Indian culture that I don’t get a choice to have something that is “mine” and non-Indian.
Well, Margarita is also an international name, but not as widespread as Rita. I know that my name is not originally Russian, just like many names that are common in Russia are being originally Latin or Greek. The name Margarita came to Latin language from Greek, and the meaning of it is “pearl”. Rita, according to Internet, also has the same meaning. But there are some articles in internet saying that Rita is a Hindu name that has a few meanings, and one of them is a “pearl” as well (and here many Indian people will probably want to say that everything came from India – but maybe it was other way round as well – like now it’s famous to adopt international names in India too, it could have happen in the past as well). By the way, Indian people care about the meanings of the names really-really a lot… Also in Russian and some other languages the flower daisy is called margarita/ margaritka. And Italian form of a name Margarita is Margherita, which also means a daisy flower (and not pizza, ha-ha).
Some make-up artists with whom I had to work in the local fashion industry mentioned my name as Reeta on social media (when they couldn’t tag me because of it). I also met here such names as Ritu, Ritika, even Ritik, Ritesh – male names. But exactly Rita, or Margarita – so far not even once. In general, if I would have taken the surname of my husband, then people in India, probably, wouldn’t have even considered me a foreigner. Moreover, sometimes people here tell me that I kind of look like an Indian girl (because my hair is dark, mostly) – but people who heavily stare at me on the streets certainly do not think so, ha-ha, and ask me where I am from…
Margarita, by the way, has been written with mistakes by Indian people even more often. So Rita is much easier for me to use in India – everyone remembers it and pronounces it easily… In addition, I simply more used to be called Rita in daily life because I was called like that every day in my country. Indian people can have problems with other foreign names but not with mine, except for very few cases. My name was hard to pronounce for people in China (even Rita, leave alone Margarita), but it India having “an Indian name” seems an advantage (except for the first conversation, ha-ha).
By the way, in India there are a few names that match the names that are very common in Russia (and many other countries), not just my name. They are also female names, I have not yet met the matches of Indian and Russian male names. These names are: Kareena (Karina), Tanya, Natasha, Maya, Nadia – these are precisely from the examples of adult people whom I know personally or have heard about. But there might more…