India

Asia, Africa, Japan and Russia: Meet the bizarrely-named Kumar brothers

28 Jan 2018 | By Gogona Saikia
The Indian brothers named after countries and continents

What's in a name, wondered Shakespeare hundreds of years ago. A lot, these six brothers from Odisha will tell you.

And they will know. After all, they have had to live with bizarre names - Prithviraj, Africa, Bharat, Japan, Russia and Asia - all their lives.

Their father insists it wasn't a whimsical decision, but life hasn't been easy for the Kumars, HT reports.

In context: The Indian brothers named after countries and continents

28 Jan 2018Asia, Africa, Japan and Russia: Meet the bizarrely-named Kumar brothers

HowHow did these weird names come about?

Kulmani, a tailor in the Kumars' village, ardently wished to travel around the world, but didn't have enough money.

However, when his sons were born, he saw a way to live his dreams, in a way.

Hence arrived Prithviraj in 1970-71, followed by America, Africa, Bharat, Japan, Russia and Asia.

"Our house became a globe and my father its undisputed master," laughs Japan.

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The Kumars became the butt of many, many jokes

JokeThe Kumars became the butt of many, many jokes

Life was normal till they left home for livelihood. Everyone would invariably ask how their unique names happened.

"Once there was a call for me at my (office's) landline phone. The colleague who took it informed me someone from Africa called," says Asia.

"(Sometime) When I say this is Africa this side, they would retort, 'If you're Africa, then I'm America'," says Africa.

And sometimes became special attractions!

But sometimes they get special treatment, like when people ask for selfies. "Once I was in Delhi for the shooting of '2 States' and Arjun Kapoor asked me to call my brothers," says Africa, a lights man in Bollywood.

'Real'itySo are the relationships reflective of real-world politics?

Africa claims their names weren't chosen based on personality traits, but Asia says America, who died in 2002, was much like the country.

"He was the tallest and strongest, short-tempered and all hell broke loose if he got angry," Asia quips.

But some of the brothers' relations are beyond actual geopolitics: America was closest to Russia, and Japan too is close to Russia!

CurrentDespite all the problems, they haven't changed their names

Despite problems, none except Russia (now Tinku) changed their names. However, they refused to continue the practice with their children: their father, now dead, wanted America's son to be called Washington!

The Kumars are now settled in Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh; one's in his village with their mother.

Their birthplace remains home: it's the only place they get relief from curious name-related queries.