Names and nicknames

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The decision "to nickname or not to nickname" is certainly not something I would lose my sleep over. Yet, I decided to give it some serious thought when a wise, worldly and well-informed acquaintance of ours asked with concern, "Aren't you going to have a nickname for Lil' General?" That was the most natural thing to do, according to him. A name that is personal, known only to family and something creates a special bonding. Hypothetically, when LG is 50 and I'm nearing my 80s (I know, high hopes to live on until then), I wonder how calling him "chotu" would look like. Make him feel younger?

As such, choosing a name for the baby is not straightforward and time bound in India, unlike in the U.S. If you are like one of us who hadn't decided on one name for a girl and one for a boy, then the choices are limitless, recommendations from people abound who couldn't fulfill their own wishes and creativity at its best. And, ofcourse the knowledge of soaps on STAR TV. The luxury of time to select a name and change and then change your mind again is exhausting; all this while staying within the boundaries of what letter of the alphabet the name should start with. The starting letter in some communities is calculated by which star was visiting whom in the planetary charts and where the moon was resting. send your head in a tizzy.

We emerged successful in this tedious exercise of zeroing in on a name on the 10th day after Lil' General was born. To subject ourselves to a similar one for selecting a nickname is beyond me. There is total freedom of expression. Call LG what you like until he is old enough to object to it. For now, it is LG, SSACBKG, pannu, buschkundi, willy wonka donka etc etc

What's it like to live in Pune?

Monday, December 24, 2007

We've lived in Pune for over two years now; not decided to make it our home, at least not yet. I don't love it; I don't hate it. There's something about the place that I can't quite point my finger to that makes me oscillate between this love-hate thing.

Indian cities that way are quite different from the American ones, never been to Europe so I don't know if they are stereotypical like their American counterparts. Every Indian town and city is diverse from the rest - in its culture, its people, language, cuisine, tolerance level for people from other states, festivals, real estate, mannerisms and communities. Every city will not have a Reliance Fresh or Spencer's, though that's changing now.

I was town-bred for the most part of my childhood. The first metro I lived in was Bangalore and that became my benchmark for a city lifestyle. The move to Pune was difficult; assimilation of the local culture tougher than expected. It took us a while to understand people are not yelling at you when they open their mouths; that's the normal way of talking here and they are polite all the same.

Given a choice to move back to Bangalore, I would have said "yes" without thinking a year back. Now, I realise why it's so much fun to live in Pune. Life is a celebration here and that's one of the reasons I love it. From Dahi Handi for Krishna Jayanthi to the Ganesh Mandals during Ganesh Chaturthi to Pandals for Durga Pooja, it's fun all the way. I can't remember once when we played Holi in Bangalore. Here, I can't keep track of the no. of people turning out for Holi for Diwali. It's not "I"; it's "We" here.

You'll know you are in Pune when ----

- you see young women cruising on motorcycles
- poha for breakfast
- every dish is garnished with kothimber and pyaaj gets replaced soon with kandha in your vocab
- hooded young girls and women (with their face covered in scarves even while walking on the road)
- 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. power cuts on Thursday
- when the shops pull down their shutters between 1 p.m. and 4:3 0 p.m. for the customary nap
- celebration is not individualistic; it is for the community
- when the Rain Gods don't pay heed to your prayers even after 48 hours, it is time to stay indoors than be stuck on flooded roads
- the roads have gone larger, wider and more flyovers have appeared but the traffic has got worse
- there is a chat shop in the corner of every street, so much so that some streets are named Bhel Chowk.
- there are more students than any other city in India

The Lead India initiative is such a mockery

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lead India is a Times of India initiative. In their own words,

On August 15, we embarked on an ambitious journey — a unique talent search which has the potential to make a huge difference to India. We began a hunt to identify new leaders for a new India, men and women with the vision and ability to empower India with the kind of political leadership that is so conspicuous by its absence.

The Lead India campaign stemmed from our belief — and overwhelming reader feedback — that even as India takes giant strides towards fulfilling its undoubted potential, it is doing so despite, not because of, its political leadership. ‘‘Good people don’t want to join politics’’ is an oft-heard lament. And yet, good governance is the cornerstone if India is to overcome the many hurdles that threaten to slow its journey to developed nation status.

And so, we decided to provide a platform to the good men and women out there who refuse to be daunted by the system, and struggle against massive odds to make life better for their fellow Indians. We invited them to come forward and use the Lead India programme as a springboard to public life. Read more about this on Lead India site

After shortlisting 8 finalists from different cities, the national finals has moved to Television. The first two episodes focused on introducing the finalists. This Saturday, was the first actual round - the one on General Knowledge.

Anyone who saw the hour long GK round would think what a joke it was. I fail to understand how knowing "Under what category, Sholay won a Filmfare award?" would make the leader chosen struggle against massive odds to make life better for their fellow Indians ? Knowing which of Akbar's navaratnas was known as Tanna Mishra will definitely enable the winner to bring good governance as it is cornerstone if India is to overcome the many hurdles that threaten to slow its journey to developed nation status.

Call it the bluff round or whatever you want. The whole purpose of such a noble cause is defeated by turning this initiative into a reality show. Your ads are good; it will boost your TRP if that's what you wanted at the end of the day. We would be no better off than our current system.

Is The Times of India trying to be Playboy?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Times of India - a daily Indian Newspaper in English with the largest circulation started a small colorful column on its last page a few months back. It's called Graffiti. I have no idea why they run this column - more often than not, Posh Spice occupies the space here with cheesy news about their over-publicized lives.

Sometimes, I think it is one of the strategies of The Times to boost readership just as their city supplements do. I know of many people who read the Bangalore Times / Pune Times first and then if time permits, go on to read the main paper.

The point here is the Graffiti column I totally out of taste bordering on reporting news that can easily fit into the indecent category. Sample this one titled "Posh discloses all" if you don't believe me. Of late, also giving Posh company is Lewis Hamilton who gets more attention in Times for his exploits than his races.

Lil General : You turn ONE today

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, LG. You turn ONE today.

For once, your mom is on time with her monthly milestone posts. This is a special edition - the yearly one.

First, the monthly updates; then, a recap of the year.

It's Goodbye to fear of falling down and no signs of stranger anxiety yet.

We've given up on teaching him meaningful stuff like where is your nose, show me your mouth, say bye etc. I was very excited when "nose kaami" (read" show me your nose) was met with a aaaah aaaah from LG opening his mouth wide. Unlearning something is tougher than teaching kids something. It took 3 days to undo the nose-mouth connection.

And it took just a day for him to learn that "Hail the C Family" is to dramatically portrayed by raising both the hands that makes us clowns look straight from the Medieval Ages.

Sleep patterns are changing drastically - I-need-a-nap-every-2 hours is being replaced by I-can't-be-a-loser, I will sleep when m body can't take it any more which is usually once in three hours.

LG has fun playing the catch-me-of-you-can game with me as I chase him down the house.

Climbing up the sofa and cot without support and the knack of getting down by putting a leg first instead of hands first has been learnt.

Your parents aren't creative to come up with a nickname for you yet. We believe in calling you Pannu, willie-wonka-donka, S.S.A.C.B.K.G (can't say what it stands for), LG and anything that comes to mind.

You are happy because you received a lot of presents on your birthday which was fun.

You drive me up the wall by ignoring when I say "No". You understand that I don't want you to do what you are doing, but are smart enough to stop doing until I turn away just to resume it a minute later with a sheepish smile.

You were very passionate about your red and blue pillows from the beginning. But the attachment is just rowing stronger. You sleep in your place of the bed when drowsy and place yourself into position that makes us wonder if you are really only a year old. You've stopped shaking your legs when feeling sleepy. The decibel levels are on the rise at nights that has made your parents' insomniacs.

Some memorable pictures from LG's FIRST year:

You arrived at 8:13 p.m. on Dec 18th, 2006.

At 5 weeks, you looked at us and started smiling.

By the end of 2 months, you siwtched over to combination feeding (formula + mother''s feed)

On March 16th, you turned for the first time at 10:30 p.m. and your dad was the first to witness that.

You started on solids and cereal at four and half months, the first solid food being mashed carrots and then Nestum cereal.

You got your first set of lower teeth May 20th, at 5 months.

You enjoy the evening walks with me, which we started when you were six months old; hardly missing a day. You love going out in the pram.

You started crawling the first time on the evening of July 7th, at six and half months.

You stood for the first time at seven months.

You gave up crawling on your body and were on your fours during the Amritsar trip, at nine and half months.

You said papa the first time at ten months with the vocabulary soon comprising of just bow bow after finding good friend Beethu.

You turned ONE today. You don't walk yet or talk yet. We HATE to compare you and when people say you are not aggressive or go easily to strangers with a smile on your face, we just go with the flow. We don't take any comment about you to heart. We love you just the same, the way you are. And your grandparents too.

Another feather in the cap

Friday, December 14, 2007

Don't ask me where I've been. We've got one piece of junk for a laptop that's ready to be tossed into the dustbin any minute. Compounding to this problem is the now-on, now-off broadband connection from BSNL. By some stroke of good luck, if both these are functioning, then my Dear Son feels moms are meant to be playing with kids all day, so he plugs off my laptop. And, the boys have been taking turns in falling sick for the past ten days - it's tissues, salt water gargling, sneezing and getting high with cough syrups time. That should explain my blogging absence.

Anyways, so I got back from the dark ages today and was casually checking Little India. Guess what? My article Raising Your Multilingual Child has been published. Those of you who know me, if you are wondering if it wasn't soon enough for us to have a daughter after Lil' General, don't worry, it is only one for now - I have my hands full with Lil' General. Ananya was the name I had chosen if we had a daughter, hence its usage in the article.