Luciana Joseph is happy to go by her full first name, or Lucy, but don’t get cute with the pronunciation: She prefers the soft C to the more European-sounding Loocheyana. There’s even more to this accounting guru’s name than meets the eye. Luciana’s ancestral home is Kerala, India, where residents have eschewed family names as a means of escaping caste politics for generations. In India, last names pin you to a caste, from the priestly Brahmins to the so-called untouchables. Fed up by such exclusions, families in Kerala took aim: They began taking their father’s or husband’s first names as their last names, thus throwing aside caste-affiliated monikers.
Despite this Kerala history lesson, Luciana’s embarrassed to admit that she knows little about the region dubbed God’s Own Country. Raised in Mumbai, she only visited Kerala as a young girl, meeting with cousins at her grandmother’s house, where she loved climbing the mango trees. With 43 cousins in all, family get-togethers were hectic, and there wasn’t enough space for everyone to sleep. The youngest cousins would grab mats and curl up on the porch; once they fell asleep, they’d be gently pushed off their pads so the older kids could curl up and get some rest. By morning, Luciana says, they all looked like a pack of sleeping puppies. She looks back fondly on those days, wishing she could see her siblings — all of whom live internationally — and extended relations more often.
Luciana and her husband (his name’s Joseph, as you may have guessed), have lived in the Golden State for 20 years, raising their two sons. She loves the great outdoors and music and hopes to spend more time in the years to come with loved ones dotted around the globe.