Thursday, June 19, 2008

What’s in a name?!

A name is a word, term, or phrase by which somebody or something is known and distinguished from other people or things. – Encarta Dictionary.

A name is a label for a human or animal, thing, place, product and even an idea or concept, normally used to distinguish one from another. – Wikipedia.

Name is the first thing that a baby learns to react to. Babies, even before they learn to speak, or for that matter, even crawl, are able to identify their names and react to it when called.

The other day, I was discussing about names with my friend. We were talking about how people have weird names and what was the weirdest name we have encountered. Somewhere in between, she nonchalantly declared that she will name her kids with names that are quite common and easier to spell and pronounce and would not spin-off to anything goofy or hideous. Now she herself has a name that is the Marathi word for a flower-pot, and the actual noun is really funny when uttered, but I have been forewarned with dire consequences if I mention her name here.

I, myself, have had quite a few problems with my name. Now, I have an Islamic name even though I am a Hindu. I have absolutely no issues with my name being from any community, but it gets on my nerves when people do not comprehend the proper articulation of my name, irrespective of whether it is said on the phone or in person, or for that matter, even spelt out to them by me.

I face many issues when I utter my name to someone and that person is trying to write it down. First and foremost, people do not have the patience to hear the complete pronunciation from me. Then they get the spelling all wrong, and lastly, they themselves give a shot to pronounce their interpretation of my name, eventually making it all a big mess. I even resorted to taking extra pain to explain, like,

“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘N…I…S…H…A…T’; ‘T’ for ‘Train’.”
“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘Nisha’ with a ‘T’.”

Even after this, most of the times, my name comes across incorrectly. Maximum people get my name as ‘NISHANT’. There is this one friend, V, who for close to two years called me ‘Nishant’ even though she sends me emails regularly. Other common distortions of my name are ‘Vishal’, ‘Nishad’, ‘Nishan’, and once someone even got it as ‘Nisha’, never even once bothering to reflect that it is a female name.

I have had many problems with my name on official documents too.

<--- See the alteration from ‘Nishant’ to ‘Nishat’ on my birth certificate.

The Maharashtra Road Transport Office issues book type of driving license. Recently, they upgraded to the digital I-Card type ones. I have two copies of the book variety and one of the I-Card types. All three of them have different spellings of my name. One got it correct; second one as ‘Nishad’ and the last one as ‘Nishant’.

Check out the goof-up in one of the driving license --->

Such was the outcome even after personally filling out the registrations forms.

My experience with my name in Bangalore was the most remarkable. We are all quite aware of the convention of people from southern parts of India (the area starting below Goa till Kerala) to insert extra ‘H’ in names. Now, they got a little more adventurous and decided to play around with the ‘H’ in my name instead of inserting one. They revolutionized it from ‘Nishat’ to ‘Nisath’. After getting tired of playing with my first name, they resorted to calling me by my surname, which is ‘Parekh’, but they construed it as ‘PORREKH’.

Another aspect of my name being pronounced incorrectly is with certain community. Out of these, the Gujarati community is most notorious for not pronouncing the ‘H’ in any word. So, even though this category of people gets my spelling right, I advertently become ‘Nisat’. On similar lines, a real conversation between a cousin and his mom:

His Mom: (frenziedly) Kusal? Kusal?
Cousin: (annoyingly) Mom, if you wanted to call my ‘Kusal’, why in the God’s name did you name me ‘Kushal’?!
His Mom: ?????

Then there are cases where kids are given weird names whose pronunciation is either difficult or the name would have an intrinsic part to it, or, the name can easily offshoot to something infuriating.
1. I know a person named ‘Tanan’. I always forget how many ‘an’ does his name contain and I eventually end up adding extra ‘an’ to his name and consequently calling him ‘Tanananan’, or something like that.
2. A friend decided to name his kid ‘Jashit’. I warned him that his kid might grow up with a disturbed childhood when kids at school start excluding the ‘Ja’ from his name. He did not heed my warning though and I pray till date that my prediction comes out wrong.
3. A friend’s surname as ‘Abhyankar’ and he is always referred to as ‘Bhayankar’.

I have lost all hope that anyone would ever get my name right the first time I utter it. If I have a cold, the number of times that I have to utter my name in the hopes of getting it across correctly, increases exponentially. I have now ceased to correct anyone who gets my name incorrectly, if there is no official document involved. I simply agree as long as the noun which is blurted rhymes with my actual name. I usually respond to Nishat, Nishant, Nishanth, Nisha, Nishan, Nishad, Nishal, Vishal, Nisat, …..

Your personal experiences with names are welcome in the comments section.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kids !!!!

I receive many forwarded mails, and the ones which I like most are the ones which have the capability to tickle my funny bone. Especially the ones where the mail claims that the below outrageous content has been written by a toddler. Like the mail where a kid does an algebra expansion sum by simply moving the brackets further and further apart, or, like the one where kids were asked to define what is 'Love', with the result being quite funny. By now you must have got a fair idea of the mails which are being referred.
First and foremost, these mails are quite hilarious. No doubts about that at all, but someone they are not convincing enough to me. I never trust the mail’s claim that the stuff has been done by a kid. I always felt they are doctored by grown-ups. Couple of days back, my uncle sent me some scanned notebook pages. These documents were the stories written by his seven year old daughter, my cousin. Reading these stories, I realised two things. First: those toddler mails are right in their claims, and second: felt real sorry for all my kindergarten and junior school teachers who had to bear the torture of reading the stories and essays written by me when I was a kid. I simply wish I could write as good as my cousin writes when I was her age.
Nonetheless, I have uploaded the scanned pictures here. Do read them, and read them all, especially the morals. I was very nostaligic and recalled all my school days where we were forced to write morals for anything and everything. I have written many a weirder morals in my heydays.

Story 1 : Going to the boarding school.

Story 2: The Friendly Girl.

Story 3: The Beautiful Girl (this one takes the first prize).

Apart from this, there are couple of conversations which I can recall. I have been witness to them where kids have asked or stated things which had me completed bowled.

Conversation 1:

An uncle of mine resided at Singapore for a long time. Currently, he is in Doha. But when my aunt (his wife) was pregnant with their first kid, they were in Singapore. We were all very ecstatic on hearing the news. Another cousin of mine, who was no more than 5 or 6 years old, on hearing this news got a very genuine doubt at that point of time. This kid always turns to his grandfather for any doubts that he has. Only his grandfather has the patience to answer all his questions. But this time, even the grandfather was tongue-tied. The conversation was something like below:

Cousin: Dada, I have a question.
Grandpa: Ask beta.
Cousin: Kaaki is pregnant na?
Grandpa: Yes. In some months, you will have a baby brother or sister.
Cousin: But would the baby look like us or would the baby look like Chinese people?
Grandpa: ……??

Conversation 2:

A friend’s daughter, who was around 4 years old at that time, had this conversation with her dad. The conversation went something like this:

Father: Urja, tomorrow is Sunday. What do you want to do?
Daughter: We will go to shopping, then for a movie and later to a restaurant.
(Pretty smart for a 4 year old, I say).
Father: Where do you want to go for shopping?
Daughter: Any place where we get clothes and nail polish for me.
Father: Which movie do you want to see?
Daughter: Any movie, but we will not go to those ‘A’ rated movies. Last time we went, the security guard did not allow me to get into the movie hall, and I had to come home with dada without watching the movie.
Father: ……??

So you see, kids these days are very very smart are quite inquisitive. We, in our days, accepted anything and everything that was told to us. I wonder what would happen in the future.

If you have any such incidences involving kids, please do mention them in the comments section.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Bakwaas

I was abducted last month by members of a secret society that wanted to find out as to how do I ‘maintain’ my physique. They tied and tortured me, but I did not give them the secret. After all, it is my IP and a source for secondary income, once I figure out how to use it for economic gain. After torturing me for one month, they finally realized that I am not going to part with the secret come what may, they erased my memory of the last one month, except for the abduction part, and released me yesterday night.

How much ever I want to believe this theory, and make you believe it too for the hiatus, I don’t think anyone will believe it. So, it is best to let the cat out of the bag.

The first reason for this sannatta is that my end-semester exams were on the horizon. Not that I was too busy burning the midnight oil on studies after a hard day’s work, but it is just that I did not want to feel guilty that I was blogging instead of studying. My total studying hours for the exams which I appeared for were as many as the exams, that is, four. These exams were open book exams, meaning, we can carry whatever study material we want to the exams for reference. My ideology is that if I will study for the exams, then what will I do in the examination centre for three whole hours?

By the way, I completed my fifth semester of the eight semester programme. When I enrolled in this programme, I really wondered if I will be able to study anymore. When I appeared for the first semester exams, I decided to quit after a couple more. Now, when I look back upon these five semesters, I can only sit back and wonder how I managed to survive through. The general consensus is that I should be able to survive three more. At least they are not as bad as the torture meted out by the underground secret society referred above.

The second reason behind this hiatus was that I was smitten by the IPL bug. I tried to resist it initially, but my defence mechanisms totally failed, and I ended up watching all the matches of IPL. I do not have a television set at my home here, but I somehow gained access to the neighbour’s television, and watched them all. Quite a revoluting concept this T20, I say. Now that it is over, I wonder what to do in the evenings. I am sure many of you share the same sentiment.

The worst part of this IPL experience of mine was that yesterday I started feeling sleepy after ten overs of the second innings. I somehow dragged myself to my bed, and dozed off to glory, without knowing the result of the finals. It was only when I read today’s newspapers that I realised that Rajasthan Royals did win the IPL series. I hear that the match was a nail biting one, and am really upset at missing it. The only consolation is that the team which I was supporting did eventually win the series.

World, I would like to confess something today. I did not realise this until today morning. Usually, I am the last person to wake up in the mornings. Today, I woke up unusually late and that too, to an empty house. I then cranked up the ol’ desktop computer at my house, and selected random tracks from those available; switched Winamp player to play tracks at random, and continued with my daily chores. There are no English tracks on the hard disk, not that I have anything against Hindi tracks. I turned up the volume and started singing along. The reason for the loud volume was that I did not want anyone to hear me sing, including myself. The tracks selected were at random without any prejudice. I loved all the tracks that were being played and I was singing along to all of them. While crooning to all the numbers, the realisation hit me like a brick hurled at me from many miles away. All the tracks being played were from the movie 'Namastey London', and the shocker that I got here is that all the tracks are composed by a certain composer who repeats the same kind of music in all his tracks, and sings with a certain nasal twang and most of his singing is out of sync with the music. I cannot bear the weight on my conscience any more. So here goes:
I like Himmesh Reshammiya’s tracks.
I know, I know. I was taken aback too. How could I, who simply adores classic and grunge rock, like such sacrilege? I don’t say I love his tracks, but like is the right word to use here. The culprit for this realisation is Winamp’s random track selection functionality, because I had selected many tracks for it to select from. But it randomly played only Himmesh-bhai’s tracks. I guess there was a greater power at work in that random functionality, and you know you cannot fight these greater forces. I know this for a fact that somewhere deep down inside, you too like his tracks like me, if not love them. And accepting the truth will make it easier for you, rather than opposing the likeliness towards his *ahem* tracks. I guarantee that after the initial trauma passes, the feeling will settle in nicely. Suspicion for the change in taste is also on the sudden drop in the dosage of music since I landed in Pune. I have decided to go for a MP3 player to settle this doubt. Lets see when this actually materialises.

Another thing is that I really enjoyed today’s morning. Waking up to a beautiful day, with no exams to worry about, and listening to your *gulp* favourite music with no one to bother you about the racket that you are creating or the time you take in the bathroom is something that I would love to wake up to every single day. I loved it to that extent that I am contemplating to move to a single room accommodation somewhere and staying alone. It is not that my current room-mates are a pain, but just that the frequency and wavelength are not matching. The looks and faces which I get whenever I give my opinion on something make me feel like I am from a different planet altogether. Mind you, I have no problems whatsoever, but just a random thought that I got today morning. Will give more thought to it in the coming days.

Now that the exams and IPL is over, it is back to good old movies for passing time. The latest edition of Indiana Jones will be lapped up before this week ends and Sarkar Raj in the next week. In the meantime, you guys can give some ideas in the comment section.

The second and final serving of the Loooog Weekend is something that I wanted to do for a long time, but now my memory is evading me. I will try to pull it all together and publish it as soon aspossible. No promises though.

Added Later:

This is the shortest post by me, so far. I vow to not repeat this mistake in the futute.