Saturday, May 10, 2014

What’s in a name?

We recently welcomed a new member into our family. It was a baby boy for my brother and sister-in-law. Once we settled after a day or two of wishes and sweets, it was time for us to decide a name for the baby. Meaning - time for cutie pie, sonu, gundu etc to be replaced by a proper name.

The entire family sat down to choose a name. My mother set a simple rule -   
Rule No 1 - The name should be short and easy to call.
We all suggested different names but none flew by everybody. I suggested a short name Anu for which I was asked the meaning. Neither me nor anybody else were aware of its meaning. This lead to the 2nd rule.
Rule No 2 - The name should be meaningful and should mean something good.
It can mean Sun or ocean or can be one of Lord Krishna's name, but it should be meaningful and easy to call. We all suggested different meaningful names - Anirudh, Rahul, Arun, Arnav, Kanha etc. Almost every name suggested was put down as there was always some related member in the immediate family or the extended family who had the same name. Now we had the 3rd rule.
Rule No 3 - There should be nobody in the known family circle who had the same or a close name.
This means we had to filter all names from my father’s side, my mother’s side, SIL’s side, my wife’s side etc. This was a big exclusion list. There was always somebody either in the immediate family or on my mother’s side or SIL's side or my wife's side for every name we thought of. After a lot thinking and filtering we finally agreed on a name which was short, had a meaning and there was nobody in the family with the same name. We were almost ready to finalize that name when my mother said that a villain in one of her TV serial has the same name. Though nobody had an objection, it was still too much for us to name the kid after a TV serial villain!! That led us to the fourth rule.
Rule No 4 - The name should not be of any villain in any of the mythological stories or TV serials.

As I sat thinking for a name, I felt we had put a lot of rules which was making things complicated. I agree with some of the rules. A short and meaningful name is fine. I have a long first name and have found people from other countries having difficulty spelling it. I once had a colleague in a different country who could not spell my first name. So I had asked him to call me by my last name and he had called me "Hoshi". I corrected him but later found that ‘J’ is actually spelt as ‘H’ in some places. So Joshi is spelt as Hoshi. I was ok as even I have found myself in situations where I could not spell things correctly. For example, I had once asked for Vegetable Lasagna, spelling Lasagna in the exact same way it is written. I realized much later that Lasagna is actually spelt as ‘La zanne’.

The first 3 rules were fine but I felt rule no 4 was an overkill and suggested to drop it. Not everybody in the house watches TV serials and there will always be in a villain in some serial which nobody watches. Also, anyway we were not going to choose a name such as “Ravana” or “Gabbar Singh”. So it was best to relax rule no 4 and everybody agreed to it.

After long hours of discussion, filtering and deliberation, we have now chosen a name which passes most of the filter criteria’s. It is not short but is meaningful and easy to call. Any further discussion to change that name should happen now as the date for the naming ceremony is fast approaching.

If you still have the question “What’s in a name?”, then please think again. Because the world is in a name.

~Narendra V Joshi

Saturday, May 03, 2014

The learning curve

My daughter came to me this morning asking me to help her make a paper boat. She already had a paper boat in her hand which her friend had made and wanted me to help her make a similar one using colored paper. I looked at the paper boat her friend had made and felt I too could make one as I used to when I was a kid.
We took the colored paper of her choice and sat down to make the paper boats. I tried to recall how I used to make them as I folded the paper. By two or three folds I realized I had forgotten how to make a paper boat. I called my father, then my mother and later my wife to see if they knew how to make it. Everybody tried different folds but none came even close to a boat. My daughter all the while waited eagerly yet patiently for me to make that last fold and show her the boat.
I was thinking of logging on to the internet and search for steps to make a paper boat when Akshara’s friend who had made that boat came to our house. She is a year or two older than Akshara and they usually play together. I asked her if she knew how to make the paper boat and she said yes. I requested her to show us how it was made and she immediately sat down to make a paper boat.
We eagerly watched her as she chose the paper, cut it, fold it and paste it to make the boat. Once she had the single colored boat, she cut small pieces of paper of other matching colors and stuck them to the boat. Soon she had a beautiful colored boat ready. She then looked at me and asked if I wanted to make one. I followed her steps and had a new boat ready. She looked at the boat I had made and said “Good job uncle” with a thumbs up!!
As I mauled over my paper boat learning's this afternoon, I realized I had not learnt 1 but 3 things today.
Learning # 1 - Learning for me will never end. There is something for me to learn from everybody around me, young and old.
Learning # 2 - Sometimes things that look seemingly simple can turn out to be the most complicated. So the next time my daughter wants me to help her with something, I have to think through completely before promising to help.
And learning # 3 – How to make a paper boat, thanks to that little girl!!!

~Narendra V Joshi