by Edwin Aye Tut
Talking about names, I too have many Myanmar names since birth. Started with “Ni Tut” at birth and Mother’s given name became Khin Maung Aye. And about the same time, I was also called Maung Maung Aye which is better, so I was told, both being written in Myanmar alphabets, “above a line” as per astrological terms and beliefs. The family also call me “Edwin Tut” as my Father’s name was Tin Tut.
When I started school at MEHS in 1950, Edwin Tut was the name of the day and into life till this day, among friends who knew me by that name. I added to make it better.. as “Edwin Tin Tut”. Many asked if Clement Tin Tut and I are brothers. By the time the National Registration Cards programme started, I officially declared myself as “Aye Tut”. Taking my Sunday born name “Aye” with my Father’s name “Tut”.
I started my Merchant Ship sea going career in January 1963 as a Cadet and throughout this profession I have people who knew me as “Aye Tut” as well as another group of people, School friends, of course, who only knew me as “Edwin Tut”. I led two lives. Many knew me too as “Edwin Aye Tut” I led three lives. Myanmar will use the word “Maung” or “Ko” or “U (Oo)” in front of your Myanmar name, depending on age or position/rank. By the time I became an Officer, “U” stood in front of “Aye Tut”. Many addressed me as “U Aye Tut”, yet my Maritime seniors will still call me “Maung Aye Tut” and friends call me “Ko Aye Tut”. (Many older seamen have also “U” in front of their names).
My passport was issued as “U Aye Tut” and “U” became part of my name. First name became “U Aye” on Immigration cards or driving license or Certificates. At one time, in 1968, 24 of us Ship Officers and seamen were on a flight to join ship. At Rome Airport, the Immigration officer asked me if all of us are relatives as many of us have “U” in our names!! Took some time to explain to him, but anyway caught the flight on time to Tripoli, Libya!
When I became Master of the Ship, one can use the term “Captain” together with my name, like Doctors, so finally, I became “Captain U Aye Tut” to many around the world, and to my seniors and juniors and friends. (Only a few years back, Myanmar passports new applicants were issued without “U” but just the name.)
Last year, I met a childhood friend after 50 years, a British Doctor now, with a British accent and all. She called me “Maung Maung Aye” and hugged me. It was great to have that Childhood feeling. A good reflection for having to hear a name long lost and forgotten.
Many elderly relatives still call me as “Ni Tut” and I to myself as “Ni Tut” to them. These are the good values of life being a Myanmar. In western society, relations in business or work is always better when you address one another in first name terms. Every country I visited during my sailing days as Master of a ship or now, as a Shore based Marine Surveyor cum Consultant, I called foreigners at work, whom I have to deal with, in their first names. And not to make it difficult for them to pronounce my Myanmar name “U Aye Tut”, a Burman to live up in the ever challenging western world, I told them to call me by my first name. My first name is “Captain”.
“Not for School,but for life do we learn”. Proud to be an Alumni.