Sunday, 13 November 2011

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!

26 comments:

kalyan said...

Amazing nikki ! Loved the post and released that almost forgot how wonderfully you can summarize a situation !

Doctor no ! sad Was ROFL !!!

Hoping to see more post and wishing you both have a present time in New home .

DruiD said...

so somewhere in a city that has probably moved fastest, ppl are still stuck to dogma and have succeeded in not getting caught in the wind. Blasphemy!
As usual nicely written

Raj said...

LOL. when u start something and people raise a voice against it, know you are going right. old business rule. applies to family too.

zephyr said...

aaah i live in an apparently posh area in Bandra where the conservative marwari society of my building did not let my maid come in to work coz the society was celebrating navratris and the maids can't come in to the building at that time. caste-ism anyone?

cosmopolitan bombay huh? :P

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ Kalyan

Thank you! :) Hoping to write more often...

@ DruiD

Blasphemy it is! :) Thank you

@ Raj

True that! Pehle kyun nahi bataya?

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ Zephyr

Why can't maids come? This is very silly. In my Gujju Jain locality ( my mayka) Maids could not ring the bell between 3 pm to 5 pm. Prayer time apparently!

Sneha said...

You know, this is the tragedy. We call ourselves (or at least, like to believe) an educated, progressing metro. And I know what you exactly mean. People in my building are constantly having peek-a-boo sessions on the windows.
I like reading near the window, and many of them make their own assumptions - seeing me study and then suddenly in the kitchen, cook! They give me the weirdest stare. The best is to ignore, however tough that may seem. When I throw the little dust of diplomacy, my true-self - sarcastic and rude turns out. That's the reason they don't interfere with me anymore!

Raj said...

i tend to hit the iron when it is hot! :P

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ Sneha

I just ignore now...don't stop and smile anymore. :| It's the best way to keep them away.

@ Raj

:P

Mishree said...

I guess there are experiences of all kinds,eh?You are just seeing Mumbai in a different 'light' :P

Oh and yea,you are vegetarians??Like seriously?

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ Mishree

I am half gujju so while I maintain other bong habits, I maintain Gujju one's too. :)

Pesto Sauce said...

Next door aunties who always meedle in others' affairs have been part of our living for ages and will continue to be so. Wait till you have kids, questions will increase in number and stupidity

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ Pesto Sauce

Sigh... :|

Orion said...

I sometimes wonder,
The half cup of sugar or sour bottle of milk
that you lent us. Which is worse?
Your pungent hair oil or luscious silk?
Maybe neither. It's just that
You hate our ilk.

I wish people would meddle in their own affairs more.

R. Ramesh said...

nikki..these nosy neighbours..pain in the neck..but part of life...u will c many more..just get used and learn to handle them yar...

Nikita Banerjee said...

@Orion

Interesting way of putting it... Yes I'd wish for the same. At least they could do with being a lil more 'hush-hush'

@R. Ramesh

Yes, learning to handle them. :)

Jack said...

Nikita,

I am fully with you on this issue. How does it bother someone if I mind my own business and do not create any ruckus, whether I am of same clan or region or religion? It is fine to be on friendly terms as per response of others but there is no need to ask unwanted questions.

Take care

PS : How about a visit?

eye-in-sty-in said...

oh come on - I'm sure you can do better than "dont smile at them".

like, for the doc question, you can retort - "why do you have heart trouble. Its very bad, you must walk everyday"... If they say no, reply with still walk, but be careful, i heard there is lot of chain snatching going on these days"...
If they say yes to the Q, say something like "its becaude you dont eat garlic. You must start right away."

the look on their faces will help you sleep at ease :-)

R. Ramesh said...

hi nikki.droppd in 2 say hi:( where is the coffee?? haha

R. Ramesh said...

nikkiiii kya yar..itna blogs hi tumhari...i get confused which one to check first...how things..sure all well..say hi to himanshu...my gmail id is rames20@gmail.com cheers byee

R. Ramesh said...

nikkkkiiii..hiiii

R. Ramesh said...

hey buddy wssp yar? how things in mumbai? which blog should i c first here...wishes:)

Nikita Banerjee said...

@ R. Ramesh

Sorry for such a late reply! :D All good my side. Hows you?

zephyr said...

Hi, nice to see your blog and find really well written stuff. when one keeps hopping cities and houses, this is a very clear and present hazard -- the name issue. Gossip can be completely subverted. Ask me, I am an expert.

So when are you coming home? :)

R. Ramesh said...

nikkkiii how r u yar? everytime i try to reach u i confuse which blog to open first..do something yar..and remember yr promise..u n H r supposed to visit dubai...what happnd to the plan!!

R. Ramesh said...

hi buddy...thanks yar...think it is nearly 2 yrs since v met..baapre...scary pace..and the marriage party treat is still pending...tell yr kanjos hubby hahha

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