Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Baby Names

Why do some names become popular all of a sudden? I wonder. Especially in India, when we have so many names to choose from, I find it really odd that people seem to pick names from a really limited pool.

Between December 2005 and March 2007, 6 of my friends had baby boys and they ALL named their sons Siddharth. I begged my close friend to name her child something else if it were to turn out to be a boy, but no! Her husband was hell bent on naming the boy Siddharth and that was that. Imagination and research seem to have gone for a rather long walk.

A few years ago, when Pandit Ravi Shankar's daughter became a popular figure, the name Anoushka was everywhere. I had 3 managers in my team, all 3 had daughters with the same name. And now, the names Shriya/Shreya/Shreeya have become overly popular. Even my own niece, born to Sachin and Priya, is called Shreeya. And some 4-5 friends who have daughters between the ages of 0 and 5 are called Shreya or some variation of the same. Fortunately, I do have 2 close friends who've named their daughters Meghana and Dhwani.

This takes me back to a time before even my brother was born. When my mother was pregnant with my brother, my parents had to decide on names. My father is, among other things, a Sanskrit scholar. He extensively researched the scriptures to find a name each for a boy and a girl. He read the Silappadikaram and was impressed with the character of Kannagi. Further research revealed to him that the character of Kannagi was based on Arundhati.

Arundhati: the wife of sage Vashishtha, one of the Saptarishis. Arundhati had come to be known as the epitome of fidelity. The wife, who remained true to her marriage vows and followed her husband everywhere, because her job was to be by her husband's side. And to this day, the little star next to the 6th star of the Saptarishi constellation, is a reminder that she took her vows more seriously than other women in her time, or today.

As a child, I always wondered why my parents had to give us such complicated names. Today, when I think about it, I find that the names are well thought through. Not a grandparent's name to please the family, not a name that's easy for foreigners to pronounce, not a name that was popular at the time, not a name that an astrologer suggested based on my horoscope, not any of those things.

And with this post, I announce my real name to my readers (there are still those people who didn't know who I was until I told them): Arundhati.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Random Facts Replace Random Thoughts

I have been tagged! No, it isn't the Orkut kind of website I'm talking about. Wooster, my dear friend decided to take revenge on me for not spending an evening with him last weekend. But if this is punishment, I'd misbehave everyday. At least that way, I'll get my blog updated.

8 random facts about myself:

  • I have been playing Scrabble since I was 3.
  • I sing almost all the time when I am awake, either aloud or silently.
  • I love cooking and baking and could do it all the time.
  • I am extremely talkative and love learning new languages. The two do go well together!
  • I have a beautiful handwriting, if I may say so myself.
  • I hosted a TV show on Vijay TV almost 10 years ago.
  • I make a living on the side by writing and do a lot of embroidery, but still consider myself "creatively challenged".
  • My 3 personal all time highs: getting the President's Award from R. Venkataraman in 1991, receiving the Gold medals for topping the University from Prof B. Ramamurthi in 2000, having S propose to me in front of a 150 people at the Beach, Bangalore in 2006.

and here's the list of the chosen 8 who shall continue the chain:

Janani - Pretty Woman, Random ramblings.

Sunanda - Blogosphere's most wanted - missing in action.

Lipstick - more than just a cosmetic!

Geeman - loves Physics, music, and marathons

Whizkid - Life and times in Bangalore

Aaroo - Writer, trainer, HR person - all rolled into one.

Arundathi - namma Chennai ponnu

Trupti - a celebrity blogger. Love her food blog and her spirit.

There are rules too

  • Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
  • At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
  • If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Home Sweet Home

That's where I am headed today. This is probably the longest that I have stayed away from my beloved Madras. Six and a half months. And I am so eager to visit.

I want to

Sit and talk to Amma and Appa.
Go to the beach.
Meet friends.
Meet my friend VJ and his fiancee.
Attend the wedding of two friends who were almost family.
Shop at Nilgiris.
Eat paruppu urundai.
Savour Amma's lemon cheesecake and date bars.
Get my hair done at the best beauty parlour in the country: Kanya.

I wish S would come along. I am going to miss him. But it's Madras I'm going to. And just for 3 days. So I'm going to make the most of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Changing Trends

I had 3 vouchers of Pantaloons and I decided to share it with my family. I kept one for myself, gave one each to my brother and husband. On my own, I bought some things for my parents there, but the vouchers I divided among the people I knew would definitely use them.

About a couple of weeks ago, S and I went to the Pantaloons store in Gurgaon. I wanted to pick up some formal wear as I am no longer with a dotcom but with a research firm, I knew my collection of jeans and kurtis would not suffice.

I went to the women's section and was shocked to see the range of clothes. There were very few nice pastels. Browns and blacks ruled and there weren't any colours that I would have liked to try. No purples, reds, greens, yellows, pinks... I managed to pick up one light lavender shirt. Disgusted, we moved to the men's section. And right there, on male mannequins and just about all the place, I saw every colour that I may have wanted to buy. The most beautiful shades of orange, purple, pink, red and blue... all in the MEN's section. Why? Oh Why???

There will, as always, be things that are beyond my comprehension.

On a side note, a year ago, to this day, was what S and I consider the turning point of our relationship. It was at a dinner with friends at a pub in Delhi, Pebble Street, that we had our moments of truth. That we were probably more than friends. That we connected at a deeper level. So much that a few weeks later, he popped the question.

Friday, June 08, 2007


I wonder…

… about many things. Some of them are:

Why do people fill their cars with stuffed toys?
Who said stuffed toys are for girls? See the countless men that I see… all middle aged, dribing to work in a big car, just them and their entourage of stuffed toys.

Why do Indians colour their hair blond?
Especially when it doesn’t suit them or makes them look old.

What’s with the clothes that girls these days wear?
In the name of formal wear, they wear fitting clothes that show parts of their anatomy that have no reason to be exposed. Then if someone (male) looks, they take offense.

Why do people wear chudas (red and white bangles) even with jeans and a T-shirt to indicate they are newly married?
And think that is OK, but feel it right to comment on my wearing a bindi with “western clothes” or comment on how weird it is that I wear my mangalsutra the “wrong” way because in my culture, newly weds wear it that way.

Separate posts on each of these topics, someday!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Simple Pleasures: Bus Travel

"You travel by bus? Why?" I keep hearing this from loads of people. I always hated bus travel because of the nasty crowds that I had to deal with. Oh, don't get me wrong. I am not some rich couple's child who had a chauffeur driven car while I was growing up. But I lived inside the IIT campus and rode a bicycle to school and back. Cool life! I could have chosen to attempt the IIT JEE and get into it and do what most campus kids in my time did... spend 21 years on campus and then go to the US. Engineering wasn't my cup of tea in any case and I've always been the "exploratory" type. I had to start trips outside the campus because I had classes outside.

I've always been fascinated by buses. When I was all of 9 years, I'd gone to a Spelling Bee contest at Good Shepherd and the teacher sent me back with 4 other kids. All by myself... from Nungambakkam to IIT. My mother is furious with the teacher to this day and I don't blame her. But the thing was that I was this confident girl. I KNEW the bus routes very well. Even when I was just 9.

When I had classes outside, I'd ride my cycle to the IIT gate, park it there and then take a bus to wherever I had to go to. But there were times when the buses would be crowded. I had a boy's cut in those days and went to my classes in jeans and a Tshirt. I was once trying to get on to a bus and after the bus started moving, a lady was trying to make me get off because she forgot it was her stop. A guy on the road lifted me and placed me on the road. I turned around and slapped him. It was only then that he realized I was a girl. So, I've had my share of bad incidents.

I decided to go everywhere on my bicycle. If it meant attending classes in Nandanam, visiting my grandmother in Mylapore, or a friend in Ashok Nagar. I loved riding my bicycle. Chennai's traffic is also the most organized among all cities I've lived in. Safe enough for a child to ride a bicycle even on Mount Road.

For the first 2 years of college, I took the '5E' ladies special. After that, I bought my first "bike". As in one with a motor. It was a TVS Super Champ and I refuse to this day to call it a "moped". There were no pedals. It had a kick start and was as good as any other "bike".

When I moved to Pondicherry, I started French lessons. I would wake up at 4.00 in the morning and then switch on my roomie's heater and place some water and an egg in a vessel on it. I would wake up again at 5, by which time the egg would have been boiled perfectly. I'd go through my morning routine and leave at 5.45. Walk down for 15 minutes and reach the gate. Catch the 6.00 a.m. bus to town. Get off at Ananda Theatre and walk for half an hour to reach Alliance Francaise. Everything was nice about this routine... except for the fisher women and their huge baskets of fish. I would almost throw up by the time I got out of the bus. So I got my Super Champ transported to Pondicherry as well. Another post will be dedicated to my bus trips between Pondicherry and Madras.

In Bangalore and Gurgaon, where I spent the next 2 years after I graduated, I had to use the bus on several occasions. Of course, I had the bike in Bangalore as well. In Chennai, whenever I had a problem with the bike, I'd happily take the bus. PTC or MTC or whatever it is called these days is by far the best bus service that I have used in India. Many people say BEST that runs in Bombay is the best, but I find those buses tough to use. The digits are in Devnagri on the front and the side. So I always know which bus I've missed! (As Appa puts it.) It's only on the back of the bus do they have the route in numbers written such that I can read and understand.

In Hyderabad, I used the bus. I asked the receptionist at the office about bus routes to Secunderabad. And she said, "You're a Director. What will people think if you go by bus?" I assured her that the driver and conductor and the passengers would never come to know! She didn't think it was funny. She said, "I never travel by bus. Always by auto." I avoid the auto whenever possible. You're sitting through a jerky ride, and at a level where the fumes of all vehicles, especially the buses, come straight at you.

In Bangalore, I started taking the bus when I signed up for Spanish classes. I had to learn the Kannada script in order to figure out where the bus was heading. But hey, I learnt another language. (Hindi numerals will probably account for a separate post.) Back in the NCR, I am back to using the buses.

You meet so many types of people. People look at me up and down, up and down... what's a girl with a laptop, sunglasses and a nice handbag, wearing trousers and a formal top, doing in a bus? I find it amusing that they find me amusing. Delhi Gurgaon buses are filled with labourers. There are times when folks get up to offer me a seat. I still steer clear of crowded buses. But the ones where I can get a seat...mmm nothing like it. I watch the sunset in the evenings. Focus on the people on the road. Chat with the conductor if he seems a nice sort. Look at other buses to see where they go, what route they take. I couldn't have done any of this had I been driving back and forth. I'm saved the trouble of watching the road and steering clear of all the cars that are there just to run into mine.

Ah, the simple pleasures of life!