Monthly Archives: August 2007

>Name Sake

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What’s in a name, they ask.
Ask me and I’ll say, “So much.”

What do our names say about us and our society?
A name is an indicator of the society’s values, our family history, our lives.

Boys are wanted because they can carry the family name forward. Girls get married into another family, take on another name. They are not wanted.

Why does she write Aanya Chaitanya when her husband is George Correya? Why didn’t she change her surname after her marriage? How do I address an invitation to them? Mrs. and Mr. George Correya? Mrs. Aanya Chaitanya and Mr. George Correya? Isn’t Aanya and George enough? What will their children write as their surname – Correya or Chaitanya? Or Correya Chaitanya? Or C Correya? So much problem – just because she didn’t change her surname!

Her name is not numerologically suitable for her. If she writes her husband’s name, it will be. No, there is no other option. And what’s the problem – all girls change their surname after marriage. This will be good for you. What about him? He can just add an ‘i’ to his name. No need to change the name. How can the man change his surname?

Why is a married woman ‘Mrs.’ and a married man still ‘Mr.’?

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Yadav, Ram, Tripathi, Saxena, Singh, Kaur David, Khan. Are you a Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Dalit, pandit? You are what your caste is, religion is.

Alice Singh – is she a Christian or a Hindu? Or a Sikh? No, then she would be Alice Kaur. Did her parents have an inter-caste marriage? Did her mother convert?

What are Kumars? His father writes Agarwal, his mother is a Muslim. Why does he write Kumar? He must be a Hindu. But they celebrate Eid. Is he a Muslim? Then why does he write Kumar?

Neha. Neha what? Just Neha? Why doesn’t Neha write a surname? She must be from a scheduled caste. No? Then why doesn’t Neha have a surname? What do we call her – Neha what?

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What will they call their baby? Did the astrologer give a lucky letter? But I don’t like this name. How does it matter? The numerologist said it was good.

‘S’ – all the people in our family have names with S. She’s also going to have a name that begins with S. It’s lucky. For whom?

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Do names have a gender?
There’s a boy called Jyoti. And a girl called Rajesh. Charu is a girl’s name. It’s also a boy’s name. Santosh – is that a girl or a boy? And Anshul? And Pukhraj? And Gurinder? And Angel? Do names have a gender?

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They misspelt my name. On the school board. I was the Head Girl and they misspelt my name.

No, I am not Geetanshu. I am Gitanshu. No we’re not Kapoor. We’re Kapur. I didn’t say Anupma, I said Anup-a-ma. We’re not Dubey, we’re Dube. And he’s not Ashish, he’s Aashish. It’s Dipak, not Deepak. Does it matter if it’s Shahrukh or Shah Rukh, Mehrotra or Malhotra, Banerjee or Bandopadhyay?

Yes, it does. It matters.

And they ask, what’s in a name?!
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>On face value

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The advice to not judge a book by its cover has gone unheeded by most publishers who hire expensive illustrators to do the cover pages of even well-written books. Obviously, looks do matter – whether it’s with books or phones, animals or people. However politically incorrect it may be to say this, the goodlooking do have it easy in life.

Compare two people with the exact same IQ levels and competencies. A good looker is likely to have his/her work done faster; they’re more likely to get a better job since there are so many jobs hinged on good looks; and in all probability, they’re more confident people because they have their looks to stand for them. Taking the analogy of the book forward, an attractive book has more chances of being picked off a shelf than a dull, boring one. And a good looking girl/boy has more chances of being picked up for a date than an average looking one.

I’m not condoning this. I’m just observing how looks make a difference. That beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder is true, but conditioning ensures that we all find almost the same things/people beautiful. So much for each of us being unique!

Do talent and hard work compare poorly to good looks? No. But looks come as a bonus with talent and hard work. The dilemma most judges at dance contests have to face is when two great dancers are equal in all other respects except looks, why do the scales tip in favour of the more goodlooking one? Why does a pretty child find it so easy to endear herself to her elders? Why is a goodlooking sportsman more celebrated than his counterparts? Would you hate a lizard even if it was as cute as a rabbit?

Often, what lies beneath a face is only tempting to explore when the face is pretty enough.

>Writer’s block

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What do you write about when you have a writer’s block?
Do you write about:

  1. The weather?
  2. About the political situation in the country/state?
  3. About the Nuke deal ya no deal?
  4. About the week that was?
  5. About the 10 things that make you happy?
  6. About the 10 things that make you not happy?
  7. About your friends?
  8. About the last film you saw?
  9. About your eccentricities?
  10. About nothing at all?

Help. Please vote.

>Free – to be

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The tricoloured Independence Day celebrating 60 years of India’s freedom from the British Raj got me thinking about my freedom to be me – at home, on the crowded city streets, in my head when I’m thinking, in my relationships and in my spirit. And I thought of all those things that we’re bound by:

We’re enslaved
By our circumstances and our thoughts –
Those dirty little crevices
We call mind blocks.

By cliches and stereotypes,
By words and world strife,
By hopes and expectations,
Disappointments and disillusionment.


We’re enslaved
By our gender and genes,
By silly, mundane routines,
By unthinking families and gravity.

By education and ignorance,
By tradition and rebellion,
By the dirty little tricks
Our minds play on us.


We’re enslaved
By our bodies and biases,

By faith and fear,
By time and year.

By who we are,
And what we aren’t.
By the road we take
And that which we don’t.

We’re enslaved.

Incidentally, these are also the things that set us free!

>Time less-ness

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The best days of your life, they say, are when time seems to fly. But when time flies so fast, how do you keep pace with life?

Being busy seems to be a genetic trait with me – I grew up in a house where “Abhi time nahi hai” was used like punctuation in conversations! And yet there was enough time to do everything that needed to be done. That I have so little of free time now, should not come as a surprise then. But when days disappear into weeks and weeks into months, I worry about how little of life is left ahead and so much of it has passed. I hear silent alarm bells going off every few days, telling me to stop and do nothing but live. Again. And stop running.

It’s like a vicious cycle: even doing the things you want to do doesn’t leave you with free time and you want free time just to do what you want to do!

I have a sense of achievement, of course, because I’m doing fruitful, meaningful work. And I have been told more than once that I do not have it in me to do what so many do so well – nothing, if you can ‘do’ ‘nothing’ (it is an oxymoron, is it?). I admit, I love being busy. But I don’t love the time less-ness that it leaves me with.

I know I’m giving up life’s simple pleasures when I give up, however unconsciously, the art of enjoying idleness. Like reading into the night and not worrying about the time that I have to be at work. To read the newspaper – all 24 pages of it! Or trying out all kinds of homemade face packs. Or hair massages. And pedicures and facials. Or spend time window shopping. And getting DVDs of movies I’d like to watch. And gymming, or bloggging, without checking the time for how late it is! To indulge in my eccentricities and do saner things like manage my finances, and relationships, visit pregnant cousins and friends, ailing elders and lonely relatives as often as I’d want to. To travel free and often.

Only if there were more hours in a day and more money in my account!

>We for Women

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Sunday, we welcomed another girl into a female-dominated family. With smiles. And sighs of relief – we believe daughters are infinitely better than sons! And the gender imbalance in our family favours girls too. The boys, most of the few that there are, have turned out to be, er…, rotten.

On Sunday too, when my nani underwent a surgery on her fractured pelvic bone, her four daughters took care of her, fretted over her and stood by her like the pillars of strength nani would have expected from her sons.

It was on late Sunday evening that I first saw this huge hoarding in my city welcoming the first woman President of India. In a country that leaves the job of choosing the heads of state – real and constitutional – to a woman (Mrs. G – 2 did after all propel Manmohan Singh to the PM’s chair, before lending her support to Patil as President), and in a state that is lead by another woman, however unflattering she may be to womankind, it’s not too hard to imagine why that hoarding was up there.

But it does seem ironic that despite this celebration of womanhood, I’m not sure being a woman is such a wonderful idea. On Friday last, a girl on the Lucknow railway station was gang raped and thrown out of a moving train, leaving her physically and mentally scarred for life. In another case on a TV channel, a man married twice because his first wife couldn’t beget him a son! In Nagpur, a racquet involving exploitation of aspiring Bollywood actresses was unearthed by the police. Don’t ask me why this should happen in a country where the most important positions are occupied by women.

The question is, apart from proclaiming Patil as a woman achiever, what has Sonia Gandhi done to improve the situation of women in our country? Or Mayawati, or Jaya Lalitha for that matter? As women in power, they could have been powerful agents of change to correct the gender inequalities in our country, but they have chosen to play along with the stereotypes that women must be slotted in caring to break the mould only for their own sake.

How ironical that while women who claim positions of importance in the public sphere do so little for others of their ilk, while common folk make so much of a difference.