The Universe of Discourse

Sat, 26 Mar 2022

Best occupational name ever?

For a long while I've been planning an article about occupational surnames, but it's not ready and this is too delightful to wait.

There is, in California, a dermatologist named:

Dr. Devika Icecreamwala, M.D.


“Wala” is an Indian-language suffix that indicates a person who deals in, transports, or otherwise has something to do with the suffixed thing. You may have heard of the famous dabbawalas of Mumbai. A dabba is a lunchbox, and in Mumbai thousands of dabbawalas supply workers with the hot lunches that were cooked fresh in the workers’ own homes that morning.

Similarly, an icecreamwala is an ice cream vendor. Apparently there was some point during the British Raj that the Brits went around handing out occupational surnames, and at least one ice cream wala received the name Icecreamwala.

It is delightful enough that Dr. Icecreamwala exists, but the story gets better. Icecreamwala is her married name. She was born Devika Patel. Some people might have stuck with Patel, preferring the common and nondescript to the rare and wonderful. Not Dr. Icecreamwala! She not only changed her name, she embraced the new one. Her practice is called Icecreamwala Dermatology and their internet domain is

Ozy Brennan recently considered the problem of which parent's surnames to give to the children. and suggested that they choose whichever is coolest. Dr. Icecreamwala appears to be in agreement.

[ Addendum 20220328: Vaibhav Sagar informs me that Icecreamwala is probably rendered in Hindi as आइसक्रीमवाला. ]

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