Archive for August 2011

What's In A Name?

While on the subject of animals, ever paid attention to the sort of names we give our pets? My friend once told me that naming must be done very carefully since the namee takes on the qualities of the name. Of course, she was speaking about humans. But I suppose the logic can apply to pets also. Looking around my immediate circle, I came across some very interesting names. I'll start with my own pet.

We had a dog. Or rather, he had us. Arrived one day as a pup from the litter of the colony mongrel and decided to stay. He was very cute - copper colour with intelligent eyes. We didn't want any 'phoren' name and nixed suggestions of Jimmy and Tommy. After trying on some names for size, like Mr. India, we settled on Sher Khan. But our fellow did not really live up to such a grand name. He was content to forage in the neighbourhood dumpster and ignore strangers when they walked into our home uninvited. In course of time, the name got shortened to Sheru.He was much more a Sheru than a Sher Khan. For eg. a Sher Khan would have simply roared at his owners and made them open the gate. Sheru on the other hand, would dig furiously in the garden, perhaps attempting to tunnel his way under the compound wall to freedom.

My husband is an animal lover and had a dog and a cat. He also had some visiting friends in the form of a garden lizard and a cow.

The dog, Scamp, was a cross between a Labrador and a Daschund (how on earth did tha happen?!) He was named in honour of the Disney character Scamp, the scion of a pedigreed mother and a mongrel father. I have never met Scamp coz he scampered off to the happy hunting grounds before I entered R's life. But seems he was not such a good tempered fellow. Barked a lot and bestowed his good graces only on my father-in-law. Did the name Scamp have anything to do with this?

The cat was named Mahabali. A unique cat name, made even more unique by the fact that Mahabali was a girl. My niece giggles when she hears this name. "how can you call a cat that? Cats are not known for Strength!'. A good point. But perhaps cats have more than physical strength. And don't forget their nine lives. That would make their cumulative strength impressive.

The garden lizard was called 'Sori' (meaning Itch in Tamil) so called on account of its scales. Not very clear to me, but R says when you have some skin problem, you get itchy and the skin flakes off. Sori would come very day to a specific spot on the wall to sun itself. A creature of habit this one.

And of course, Daisy The Cow. A comely bovine that would amble over everyday for a snack. I howled with laughter when I heard the name. Imagine a cow named Daisy in Mylapore, the Brahminical stronghold of Chennai city?!! Rather ironical. In days of yore, people 'lost caste' if they went overseas and had to be purified by drinking (or was it bathing in) 'go moothra' or cow urine. The same purifying cow now bears an English name!! Not to forget that the same Mylapore Brahmins mostly straddle two worlds these days - one leg planted firmly on the hallowed grounds of Mylapore/Mandavali and the other arching over to Silicon Valley. All the 'go moothras' of Chennai cannot purify them now!!

So what's the story behind the name your pet carries?

Posted in , | 13 Comments

Born Again

Being a Hindu, I'm programmed to believe in the concept of rebirth. Apart from that, it gives me solace to think that if things did not work out for me in this life, they will in another. I'm a staunch believer in second chances - even (or is it especially) when they transcend lives.

So if I was to be reborn, what would I want to be born as? Not that these choices are in our hands really. But I like to think about it - especially when I'm dead beat or flying around getting work done and trying to race against time.

If I had a chance at rebirth, I think I'd like to be born as a water buffalo.You think thats funny? The two others that I mentioned it to this last week also thought it was hilarious.

But if you think about it carefully, its really a very good choice for a harried, always-on-my-feet, woman-of-the-21st-century, slave to time like me.

The Bubalus bubalis is a noble creature. In my opinion, it is the epitome of relaxation and thoughtfulness, bordering Nirvana. Just picture it, sitting in muddy water, black hide glistening in the sun, swishing flies with its tail, chewing the cud and contemplating, with half open eyes, the world as it whizzes past. Now contrast this picture with the daily routine of any working woman. Wake up to the sound of an alarm, rush about preparing breakfast, lunch, braving traffic and getting to work on time in a photo finish. Then there is the roller coaster ride of dealing with work issues for at least 8 hours. And if you're a mom, then you can multiply this entire effort by two.

Don't you feel jealous? Wouldn't you want to be this animal? What does the world expect from a buffalo really? Practically nothing. Ok, maybe a couple of litres of rich milk a day. Permit a human to tug at your privates a couple of times a day. Ok, maybe thats a tad undignified. Let the passing bird sit on your broad back and pick worms off your skin. Thats as symbiotic a relationship as any! Oh and ignore the many insults and curses that use you as a reference point - In Hindi: Kala akshar bhains barabar (to indicate ignorance) or bhains ke aagey been bajana (to indicate that you have no appreciation of finer things). In Tamil: 'Yerumamaadu!' - a curse to indicate girth and immovability, usually uttered in jam packed buses and trains.

That apart, there's really nothing to complain about now is there? Its a life of self actualisation.
Yes, I'd like to be reborn as a water buffalo. With curly horns - as opposed to the long straight ones. A bit of vanity maybe, but I think the curly ones look cuter!

So tell me, if you had the chance to be reborn, what would you want to be born as? Leave your thoughts in the comment box. And feel free to tag others on this topic if you like. Do let me know if you do, so I could also read it.

Posted in , , | 15 Comments