Friday, April 24, 2009

What's in a name...

I get surprised when people ask, “What’s in a name?”
I say, everything! Whether you like your name or not, it is what you are going to be remembered as for ever… even when you have a name like ‘Sharvani’ which people remember for it's unusual or not at all.

I’ve always had problems with my name for the kind of confusion it created, whether it was the way that it was spelled or pronounced. If I bother to count, I’ll have a hundred different versions of both. Every time I get introduced to a new person, I always have to encounter a ‘Huh??’ two or three times.
And the disaster of it when it gets mispronounced... especially when my name would get announced during a prize distribution, or some competitions, it would be embarrassing. I mean you can hardly get up from your seat and scream back at the announcer the correct pronunciation of your name. Same goes for the spelling… Of all the certificates I’ve collected till date, only about five have my name correctly spelled. You add ‘Binge’ instead of ‘Pinge’ as the surname, and the picture is complete.

But why go too far? Even half of my friends still don’t know how to say it correctly, and I’ve learned to live with it slowly. I guess that’s how the pet name ‘Sim’ came.

When I was 15, a net friend decided to start calling me Sim since he said it would be simple and easier to type. When I told my friends about it, they all loved it. And it stayed with me for quite some time. Quite a lot of my friends in Pune still remember me as Sim.
Mind you that’s not the only one! For two years that I stayed in Pune, all my hostel mates called me ‘Sheru’. And if you think that’s funny, imagine how it would sound when my roomy Kala would call out to me from the mess on the ground floor so that I could hear it on my third floor room as – Shae – rooooooo…

She is another one with a lot of name trouble. Kala means Art, but judging by the spelling, many would call her ‘Kaalaa’ as in Black. Once she filled up a form for MCA admission, entering her name as ‘Kala Parmeswaran’, she doesn’t have a surname. When the admission list came out, Kala came back saying that her name was nowhere on it. Later she found out that the university thought that there was a mistake in the name, that perhaps the surname was written first, and so it was changed accordingly. Imagine her shock when she saw that her name was up on the admission list as ‘Parmeswaran Kale’ in the Male section.

My neighbour Sharwari is another one who shares all the name problems that trouble me. And to add to the confusion, we have similar landline numbers, with only one digit different than the other, so that we always got calls from people looking for Sharwari and vice versa. When our mobiles came, that problem reduced but now those people who know us both have our numbers saved one after the other and the confusion continues. People always ask if we are related and how it is that we share such a similar name. I tell them that even though they sound almost the same, both names have very different meanings. Sharvani means Durga, a Hindu goddess while Sharwari means Night.

There’s an interesting story behind how I was named too. My grandmother was overtly superstitious about girls name starting with sh – the reason behind Shilpa, Shivangi, Sharvani and Sheetal in my family. But she didn’t readily come up with mine. When my folks were taking 15-day-old me to my Mum’s village for the naming ceremony, they stopped by at a temple on the way. It was the temple of Devi Sharvani, and two days later I was named after her.

Earlier I would always ask mum why she let grandma pick such a tedious name for me. But over the years I’ve grown fond of it. It’s unusual, beautiful and no one else has a name like it. I’ve only met two other Sharvani till date, one who was named after me and another, a student from one of the camps I had organised. But other than that, when anyone around is talking about a Sharvani, I know it could only mean me!

Monday, April 20, 2009

You off your rocker too?

Sometimes I feel I’m completely nuts!
I talk to myself for hours,
Rehearse lines I’m going to say when I’m anxious,
Enact dialogues from movies when no one is watching,
Stare at myself and do eerie faces standing in front of the mirror,
And do bizarre dance moves while I’m doing chores.

Sometimes I feel I’m losing it…
I sit in one place staring in space without noticing how the time flies.
On bike, I sometimes get so lost in thoughts; I lose complete sense of direction and end up going somewhere without any idea of how I got there.
I get stuck with a song in my head and just like an old record stuck in an even older record player, it keeps playing the same line over and over again.
At times, I even space out and don’t realise that people are talking to me.

Sometimes I feel I’m completely off my rocker…
But when I see others being just as ludicrous, I feel I’m not so wacky after all. I’m just another normal human being with just another average Monkey Mind.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


One of the reasons why I love my cousin Mru, is for her wildest sense of humour in the unlikeliest of the places. While studying for MBA she promised her Boyfriend a while ago, “When I get my first pay check, I shall buy you a lovely DSLR camera!”

When the market started tumbling, she said, “You already have a camera. So when I get my first pay check, I’ll buy a superb lens for your camera.”

When the situation got worst, she again reconsidered, “When I get my first pay check, I’ll instead buy you a 1 TB hard disk!

Recently out of the business school with no placement, she finally reflected and said, “When I get my first pay check, I will definitely payback the money I borrowed from you!”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

'Fan'tastic tales

The ceiling fan in my room was so old, that lately it did everything except spinning – making squeaking, grumbling, crackling noises, sending off smoke and occasional fireworks. Mum told me it belonged to the 80’s, I told her it belonged in the trash.
With the heat reaching dangerous mercurial levels, it was getting impossible to sleep, study or even stay in my room.
“Why don’t you sit and study in our room?” Mum suggested, “and you can come sleep there too till the end of summer”
Since theirs is the only room with air-conditioning, the suggestion was good.
“Well, I don’t mind studying there with the AC full on, but I cant sleep there please.”
And I really can’t. When people say ‘There’s no place like Home’, I simultaneously believe that ‘There’s no place like my Room’. Just the way you can never find comfort in someone else’s home, I somehow never find peace anywhere else other than my own room.
“Tuza apla kahitarich!” Mum exclaimed.
Roughly translated, it means ‘That’s ridiculous of you!’ I don’t know how she can say that; she never sleeps soundly other than in her own bed.
“I guess it's just the genes…” I muttered to myself.

So after a month of badgering Dad, we finally set to remove it last Saturday. After sweating our tees off for an hour, we got it down and sat to think about its replacement. I was all in to buy a new one.
“No”, dad said, “ceiling fan prices are unnecessarily hiked in summer. We’ll buy one when monsoon hits and prices drop”
“Yeah”, Mum, “when we’ll have absolutely no use left for it!”
I love it when my mum gets sarcastic, I feel that and the raw sense of humour is something I’ve inherited from her.
Dad: Why don’t we just shift the fan from our room to hers?
Mum: And then what are we going to do?
Dad: We sleep in the AC. We hardly use the fan.
Mum: And what about during the day?
Dad: When do we ever shut ourselves in our room the way they do?
‘They’ means my bro and me. ‘Hey, that’s universal Adolescence Syndrome, not something unique to us’ I wanted to say. (And even though I’m not technically an adolescent, I guess I get counted in since I’m still staying with my parents). But instead I slowly back out of the room lest I get dragged into the row.
Finally I hear Dad say, “Her need is greater than our, she’s studying!”
Final weapon – case won!
Trust my parents to belittle everything else in front of my exams. But their 2000’s fan is fitted in my room and I’m happy.

But calamity strikes. At 4am next morning, power shuts down. Sweating profusely and cursing the electricity department we pace around the house trying to find some spot where it could be a bit cooler but without any luck. Dad calls up the department and they say, ‘we’re having some problem with the transformer and we’re trying to fix it. It’ll be done soon, don’t worry’. What it actually meant was, “The transformer has blasted beyond repair – we don’t have a spare transformer to replace it… so we’re calling every other electricity department in Goa to look for a spare – we also suspect that there’s some trouble with the wiring and we have no idea where the fault lies – so don’t expect the power to restore at all today – and oh, this might continue for the next four days.” All thanks to our government’s faulty management and ingenious (?) underground cabling plan.

But that’s another story, something you can follow up in the local newspaper if you care. But finally a spare 220-MWs transformer is fitted and the lights were back at 7 in the evening. But we are warned that it might be unable to take the load so it's just temporary adjustment until a bigger 400-MWs transformer is fitted. So naturally the AC starts giving problems and my folks have to spend the night in the living room.
“This is the reason why we have a ceiling fan in every room, just in case of emergency” Mum says.

Next day as the power shuts down again, I pack up my books and rush to Janaki’s rather than getting cooked up in the heat and my parents get ready to go shopping – for a new ceiling fan.