Thursday, August 18, 2005

What's in a name? 

Call a rose by any name ... it'll still cost you money to buy and a girl to gift.

Like any Indian parents, my mom and dad too, monitors what my sister wears outside the house. In spite of being extremely liberal, the occasional "No, that dress is too short" or the "You can only wear that top if you wear a jacket on top of that" does the rounds of our household. A common phrase that often pops up in these monitored moments is "Don't forget that you are representing the Nandy household." I was talking to a friend and figured that this is indeed a very common Indian technique, where Indian parents glamorize their family name and attach a huge amount of importance to it. "What? You failed in class. No member of the Chowdhurys has ever received a red mark on their report card", "You can't date her. After all you are a Ranganathan. What will people say", "Don't forget that when you walk out of that door, you are representing every Kumar of our family", yada, yada, yada ... we've all heard some variant of these (including the emphatic Hindi version - "bhoolna mat, tum Kapoor khandan ke bahu ho ...".

Don't you think that we assign way too much importance to our family names? Coz it's very likely that nobody even knows them. This entire post happened coz I had this hilarious visual in my mind of people actually wearing name tags in public places so that they can be held accountable. Imagine walking to a restaurant and seeing this hot dame in a skirt so short that when she puts the napkin on her thigh, her dress size doubles. You walk up to her and check out the badge she's wearing. "Aha! You are a Dutta I see. I should have guessed. Duttas are notorious folks," you say and walk off. The next morning the newspaper screams out "Duttas embarrassed again. This time in a restaurant." Now that would be truly bringing your family name down. People will then be really careful. Clubs will have hoardings saying, "No Maitys allowed" and people of the Maity family would have to use frauduent schemes to get badges bearing the highly revered "Nandy" tag :)) When the girl with the shoulderless dress gets down from the car after a night of wild partying, one of the two old neighbors would say, "Is she a Lal? Look at her dress." To this, the all knowing second man would say, "No way. Look at her badge. She is a Lalwani. The Lal's wouldn't dare to wear clothes like this. Not after their rating went down so much last year!"

Bottomline - most people don't know us. People who pass fleeting judgments abt us don't even know who their pointed fingers are aiming at. And yet we go through hours of scrutiny to uphold a tag which doesn't even exist. Why?

Stopped reading when I saw the line " a skirt so short that when she puts the napkin on her thigh, her dress size doubles"


Psst! I am sure you meant dress length, and not size though. Otherwise it would be odd, to say the least.
I guess its called societal-pressure. Thats why a lot of people shed all their inhibitions once they r outside that domain of family, relatives, neighbours and such like people. But again such a thing exists everywhere. Donnu think so?
It reminds me of all the 3 most popular words in Hindi cinema.

a) Khandaan
b) Khabardaar
c) Khamosh!

As a kids we used to love repeating these three words :))
@manchus u forgot the 2 other k's kut** and kam***
Sagnik did u know that after coining 'wats in a name' Shakespear made sure he signed his name under it :)
@ani - thank you sir. for men when they use the term "size", they often mean "length" :) and i fell for that trap :( i did mean length - size doubling after putting the napkin wouldn't hurt any man for sure :)

@ari - speaking from personal experiences - are we :))

@manchus - wow! you have summed up five decades of Hindi drama in three words - hats off

@rohan - that Shakespeare line is one of the bet lines I have heard dude - excelllllllenttttt!!
a lot of people comment "I don't care what others think of me".....but I have known very few who can translate those words into action.....I think every human action is influenced by the opinions of ppl around them.....
Try explaining that to the older generation!!

Women deciding to keep their maiden name or retaining it along with their surname creates issues!!!

Cause we refuse to understand and reasons out why we follow a particular traditon, we don't even think would the new tradition be good or bad, just cause it's not old it's not good!!

Give me a break:-)
The post had the seeds of a sci-fi novel. Somehow. And the last 2 lines: Panchatantra.
(I think a lot of us have mixed the name of our dynasties in mitti but noone knows)
(Quite ironically) the first thing that came to my mind on reading this post was Proud Papa Kher's sermon to Shah "Raj" Rukh after he flunks his compre's for the n'th time (DDLJ).

Some trend-setting movies seriously need to be included in the culture-curriculum or what!
@point5 - very true! i guess all of us can take a certain amount of societal flak. the limits vary but there is a limit. like i dont care what people in my locality think abt me but want ppl in my lab to think highly of me. very well said.

@minal - seriously, a lot of traditions we follow don't even have justifications - like a saree (which shows a lot more flesh than jeans) is considered to be the most cultural outfit :)

@bridal - sci fi?? i am trying to imagine a big budget movie where aliens come to this place and capture orthodox people and makes them wear short skirts and watch boy band videos :))

@aj - and what abt those movies where the villain lets his son tease as many girls as he wnts in college - till the son realizes there is a lot more to achieve - and then he enters politics :)
Came here just to say "SUPERB URL".

Never thought of that when even i was searching for one.Way to go man!

we say "wats in a name?" when we r stripped off our freedom by using our family names..but when it comes to popularity or fame which is brought to us by our family names how is it tat we r the first ones to shoot up proudly saying "we raghavans r the first to bring up a steel plant in this city"...or "we chakravarthis r g8 musical genius for four generations?" how does tat 'family name' matter soo much to us then? n how is tat the different dimensions in which a family name is used is analysed n viewed diffrently by us?:)
way 2 go bro. amazing stuff.wats in a name ? truly who knows me in this town.
as for the dress length jus go to the golpark Caffeine
@oneirodynic - thanks :)

@xyz - :)) i don' think "we nandys" have done anything :(( if you appear on newspaper - you will instantly become the most famous nandy of all time :(( so that doesn't hold true for us :)

@sankha - thanks man :) will try. you won't believe - we just spent 15 mins trying to hang out a cool coffee place other than Barrista - wish i had read ur comment then :)
Friggin' hilarious! I didn't know you were back in the Old Country!
Nice ... though I wonder why we care so much about our last names if we think of ourselves as individuals in our own right ...
@vrempala - in the New Country we were discussing you the other day in Bucca De Bepo! did you get hiccups boy?

@meditativerose - thanks,. i guess it has a lot to do with insecurities of other that we care for ... just guessing - not sure :(
better not try looking for those PYT s in short dresses, at least notnear the CITYCENTRE . CP oops sorry KP may suspect single unaccompanied( by mom, sis or any other female0 males as potential ET s (not the Spielberg variety) and toke Kaan dhore uthbosh korte hote paare.
all these dialogues wud hold good if that gopsipy aunt or some relative recogonizes u
wearing these attires but we do go to such places where no known relative wud b there!
also jus heard last nite when my frend was not allowing his wife to wear a short skirt but he never
commented on mine n he says proudly 'rules r only for wives and not for frends'!
-poor girls first itz their parents n then their husbands they have to listen to ...
@sankha - oh! me very careful this way - i only go to CC with my sis :))

@swathi - oh trust me lady, my relatives are all over the place - i think they have relative who are just trying to monitor us :(
this post is really funny...
i remember one line from old hindi movies
"tum is khandaan ke naam pe ek bada kalank ho...DAFA ho jayo meri nazaaron se"
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