Friday, April 14, 2006

The Short Life of Sdhbin Hrothr

A few months ago I found an envelope in my mailbox addressed to Sdhbin Hrothr. "Interesting name", I thought. I like figuring out people's ancestry from their last names. (ex. If your last name ends in '-ian' your ancestors were likely from armenia, or if it ends in '-ji' they're likely from gujarat, possibly via east africa, etc.) But this one was a real stumper. With the constantly changing student population in town, a significant proportion international, it wouldn't be surprising if a person with an unusual name moved and forgot to update his address with the university. A little searching on the web and the university directory didn't help. There didn't seem to be anybody alive that shared that first or last name. So the envelope ended up on the pile of paper on my desk.

Today I was frantically searching for my W-2 (monday is tax day) and found the envelope again. I decided that it was time to do something about it; either send it on to Mr.Hrothr or throw it away. So I opened it --- very guiltily, I might add. (That's what decades of singing this and saying this will leave with you --- much guilt. :) How's that for a Good Friday tie-in ?).

Inside was a letter addressed to... me! What was a letter to me doing in an envelope addressed to Mr.Hrothr ? Did somebody switch envelopes ? How fortunate that even after the envelopes were switched the letter ended up in the hands of the intended recipient!

But of course, as you might have figured out already, Sdhbin Hrothr did not exist. At least he no longer existed now that I'd opened the envelope. I had just killed him. He was the creation of my imagination and a careless typist --- a typist whose roving wrist, resting millimeters away from where it was supposed to, inadvertently created encrypted text.

I'm surprised the postman delivered it. They claim to deliver only if the name on envelope matches the one on the mailbox. I wonder if he figured it out or simply ignored the name. Perhaps the post-office is adept at decoding encrypted names.

I really like the name Sdhbin Hrothr and I'm looking for an opportunity to use it. If Hrothgar is a name (of a King in Beowulf and this actor --- thanks google toolbar instant search suggestions), I don't see why Sdhbin Hrothr can't be one too. So if you are ever in need of a made-up name feel free to use it. Tell people that it's Danish, or Hungarian, or Xhosa, or Uighur or whatever. They might believe you.


Anonymous brimful said...

I'd like to use it, but you'll need to explain to me how to pronounce Sdhbin. ;)

4/17/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger ashvin said...

brimful : Along with the right to the name comes the right to decide how to pronounce it. Kinda like a creative-commons license for name usage :)

But the way I've been pronouncing it is something like "Sdib-in"

4/17/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Maitri said...

Once I saw Sdhbin, I stared at my keyboard and realized that the typist's left hand was off by one key. Especially given that h, i and n are on the right side.

That's pretty funny.

4/18/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger ashvin said...

Good job on cracking it Maitri [and ruining my semi-anonymity :)]

4/18/2006 05:13:00 PM  

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