Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Whats in a Name anyway!

Or so I thought when I was subjected to the various mispronunciations of my name. From Gautam to Gowtham to Guatam and last but not the least Gothaam - yes where Batman lives !!! Generally Bengali names tend to be literary to the power of infinity and hence are that much more susceptible to mispronunciations. Take my wife's name for instance: Samapti. Literally it means - 'The End'!

First I had thought that this was a result of my father-in-law's wicked sense of humour. But later was informed  by a common friend (on seeing the bewildered look on my face) that Samapti (pronounced as Shaw-maap-tee in Bengali) was the name of a short-story penned by Tagore and it meant "The Conclusion". My father-in-law, a die-hard fan of Tagore, named his daughter after the popular short-story that was later adopted in Satyajit Ray's Teen Kanya. I thank my stars that he was not much of a sports buff given the penchant of Bongs for football. Incidentally Footballers around the world have had unusual names, some to the extent of hovering around obscenities :
  • Paraguay veteran Francisco Arce
  • Former England international Segar Bastard
  • Czech defender Milan Fukal.. to name a few.

The nick names in common Bengali households also are equally creative. Phuchkey, Peethey, Dushtu, Tubul, Golu, Gogol.. and so on. These names, strangely do not have any link with the real names of their possessors, but to a great extent describe the physical or behavioural attributes of them when they were kids. For instance, a chubby looking boy will always be vulnerable to be branded with a name like 'Golu', which will stick to him even when he grows up to be a strapping young lad with six packs that can give King Khan a run for his money.

I, as a child was assaulted by similar attempts to disparage my reputation when my grandmother decided to call me Buro (meaning Old Man). Her reason was simple - I was born without any hair on my head and looked old enough already, for her at least. Somehow that name didn't stick for too long, but then the second assault came from my aunt, who gave me another equally humiliating nick name - Piklu. A harmless sounding name you might think, am I out of my mind to object to that? But when I imagine children calling me Piklu Uncle or an older me being addressed as Piklu Dadu by my grandchildren, well it gives me the jitters. What did I do that I was subjected to such ignominious names? Finally, my mother came to my rescue, and gave me my final nick name - Bapi. Incidentally this name also means Dad in Bengali. So now even my kid chooses to calls me by my nick name, but she is merely calling me Daddy!

This reminds me of my erstwhile colleague who had a high sounding mythological name - Atharvan. For those who are not well versed with our mythological figures, Atharvan was the name of the vedic sage who had authored the Atharvaveda. Imagine his plight when one fine day an overseas client called up at our office and asked 'Hello, may I talk with Mr. Other One ?"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Paan - Lucknow's obsession with the Betel Leaf

A Paan Shop
Chewing Paan has been an obsession in Lucknow from the times of the Nawabs, when Lucknow was known as Avadh. The paan also referred to as the 'gilourie' was consumed mostly by the royalty and was a symbol of sophistication and upward mobility. Movies like Shatranj ke Khilari and Umrao Jaan - both the 1981 and 2006 variants, portray the paan fetish of Lucknowites magnificently. Back then paan was offered to Nawabs in ornately carved silver cases known as Paan daans. The Paan daans had several small containers in it, each for the various accompaniments of Paan, like the Supari (Areca Nut), Kattha, Chuna (Slaked Lime) and various other spices usually consumed with Paan.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to beat the Traffic Jam agony

Every morning when I tuck in my sandwich and rush out to beat the traffic jam at the busy Velachery signal, I wonder, why can't I have a device that will simply 'transmit' me a-la-startreck straight to my office - wish I could just use the magic words - "Beam-me-up, Scotty"  and find myself sitting in my cubicle, right in front of my computer! Traffic Jams have a new defination in India, where the vehicles are not just slow-moving, but can be a complete stand-still. While stuck in a traffic jam near the Richmond circle in Bangalore, I remember, parking my bike right in the middle of a chocablock street and going to a nearyby shop to buy some essentials, knowing fully well, that in the ten minutes in which I will be back, the traffic will move at most - a few lazy inches. I remember missing my flight once due to a traffic jam on the airport road.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fifa World Cup and India

The 2010 Fifa World cup started this June. It is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, second only to the Olympics. Football is a sport which draws out the most basic instincts from man. And, any one who wants to play this game needs just two things, a ball and a place to play. Probably this is the reason why, unlike other more sophisticated sports like tennis, football has a following in almost ALL countries in the world. No wonder that finally the dark continent - Africa is getting its share of the world soccer pie. Although being late starters, Africa has given some of the finest football teams. South Africa got FIFA affiliation in the year 1992, 44 years later than when India got this affiliation in the year 1948. But South Africa has already made two apprearances in the World Cup, and this time they are hosting this prestigious event. Recently they gave a stunner when they defeated the former world champions France, 2 - 1!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The White Elephants of Lucknow

Much is said and written about Mayawati's fixation for elephants. The wild life enthusiasts would be elated by the fact that a CM in India is investing so much resources on building statues of this endangered species of the largest terrestrial mammal.
For the last ten years, the only development that U.P. has seen is by way of statues. So, it will not be wrong to say that U.P. is fast becoming a sculptor's paradise. Shravan Prajapati, the man behind most of the statues dotting the skyline of Lucknow cannot be happier. He is by far the most celebrated sculptor of our country , thanks to the megalomania of Mayawati, who has been dubiously titled as Daulat ki Beti by her opponents - for, she has decided to reverse all the excesses done on dalits till date by erecting statues!

The other me!

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away
"Antigonish", Hughes Mearns

The story of that boy next door, who discovers his true identity after having a dialog with himself; in the wee hours of every morning, on his new digital phone of Chinese make!... the result? - Karthik calling Karthik!!

K2K is a psychological thriller, about a young and talented accountant named Karthik, who lacked confidence in himself. This was affecting his daily life, and everyone including his colleagues and his landlord where constantly bullying him. Also, to his utter chagrin, he was unable to win even the slightest of attention from the girl of his dreams - the newly hired architect in his office named Shonali.
But Karthik was in for a pleasant surprise, when one morning (midnight by my standards though) sharp at 5 am he gets a call from guess who??- himself!!!