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What's in a name?



Wonder why that nosy neighbour from Wisteria Lane was killed? Simple. She was too nosey  Bah. However, real life does not allow you to kill or rather quickly shoot nosey people. How I wish I could shoot some? Having moved to Mumbai recently, my hubby and I are desperately trying to set up our new home.  As if this was not tough enough, random old women in the society want to get an insight (and how!) into our lives. Because we are new and cheap rent (that is a myth) is tough to come by, one is asked to be polite so I try to answer. Nevertheless, answering these questions not only made me look like a fool but I felt like one too!

So when we were just moving in, a grouchy looking aunty next-door peeps in from the front door. My ever-so-polite father introduces himself and the husband.  The woman questions my father, husband watches on. Suddenly hubby realises that although he is present and the woman is asking all about him, she refuses to acknowledge his presence! She continues to talk to my dad. Finally, she gives him a stern look and asks him his name.

‘Himanshu’ he replies.
‘Not your name, what is your ‘surname’?
‘Bhagat’
‘Okay. So you are a Hindu?’
‘Yes.’

And the door was shut with a bang! K  

Recently as I entered the society, an old woman smiled at me, so I smiled back. She took it as a ‘thumbs up’ to throw questions at me.

‘You are the new here, na?’
‘Yes’
“Have you bought the flat? Or on rent’
‘Rent’
‘What is your Surname?’
‘Bhagat’
‘Okay. Do you cook or you have a maid?’
‘I cook.’
‘Husband is a doctor?’
‘No!’
‘Oh too bad...’

First, you need to be a Hindu and now husband should be a doctor. Wow! I have no idea why people are so obsessed with surnames. Do we look alien-like because hubby is not from Mumbai or anyone with geeky (good) looks, wearing spectacles is for sure a doctor? It just gets weirder and weirder.

These questions bring back my very first memory of shifting to Sion. We had recently moved and finally when all our belongings were in, we put up the nameplate that read ‘Banerjees’ on the door. Soon enough we had an aunty ringing the bell on our door.

So this aunty rudely asks my father who was he and why was he here? My surprised father answered that he was the new owner of the flat and that we had just moved in. Nevertheless, the irritating woman continued, “But you are a ‘Banerjee” and not a ‘Gujarati Jain’ how can you live here? Who let you buy a flat here? We are all vegetarians?”

By then dad wanted to bang the door on her face but luckily, mom intervened. She spoke to the lady in fluent Gujarati and assured her that we were pure vegetarians and that she had a love marriage so now she is part Gujarati and part Bengali. The matter was drawn to a close with the lady leaving us in peace. However, people were reluctant to fraternize with us for the first six months.

All of this just makes me realize how full of fluff we are...complete rubbish and waste of time!
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(Image only for representation purpose. Copyright lies with the artist. Not Waving but Drowning Fine Art Print - Trudi Doyle)



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