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March 12, 2004 09:42 IST

Consider being saddled with a name like that!

I was, and I am a south Indian Malayali man.

My parents lived in the UAE. Since the medical facilities there were not too good in the seventies, my mother returned home for her delivery. When it was time for my naming ceremony, dad sent mom a letter, 'Call him Goldie.'

My poor mother was appalled, but there was nothing much she could do in the matter. Even her tears did not win the day. My paternal grandfather insisted his son's diktat be followed and I was christened Goldie.

I spent the first 12 years of my life in the UAE and they were fairly peaceful. When I returned to India, however, you can imagine the flood of teasing I unknowingly walked into. Miserably, I asked my father why he wanted to subject me to so much torture. He tried to explain how rare and unique the name Goldie was, but I was just not convinced.

The following incident was the final straw. I was making a sales call on a client at his home. After getting his order and completing my work, I was about to leave when my client suddenly shouts, "Goldie, sit!"

I was stunned. How did he know my name when my visiting card just read Govind Haridas?

"Goldie, SIT!" came the command again.

I instinctively sat on the sofa next to the door. It was only then I realised my client was talking to his dog. With a sheepish grin, I raced out of the place. God, I really wanted to strangle my father!

Recently, I changed my name. I don't want my son to someday ask me, "Papa, why is your name Goldie?"

Govind Haridas, Chennai

A ride to remember

At least one story about each family member becomes part of the family lore. My brother has a particularly amusing one to his credit.

This incident took place in 1979, when he was in the first grade.

Apparently, he came home one day and told mom his school had taken his class on a short airplane ride. Obviously, no one believed him but mom and my uncle start asking questions just to humour him.

Looking at the confidence with which he was answering them, my uncle actually began taking him seriously.

My brother described his ride. He said the airhostesses gave them chocolates at the beginning of the journey, that everything looked very small from above -- people looked like ants and buildings looked like toys.

My brother had never been on a plane before. His answers were so realistic that my parents and my uncle decided he wasn't lying.

Now, they wanted to know more about his experience.

"Was the plane bigger than a bus?"


"Was it bigger than a train?"

"Yes Amma, it was soooooo big and huge!"

My uncle asked him, "Did all your friends and classmates come along with you?"

"Yes mama, everyone came. But since the plane was small and we were so many, some of them couldn't get a seat and had to stand throughout the journey!"

Chinmayi Bhavanishankar, USA

Kandivili to Kalbadevi

It's 9.15 am. I yank my dupatta diagonally and clench the strap of my handbag tightly. I keep my other hand free. In short, it's the 'ready-for-the-local-train' drill. Barely seconds later, I am inside; pushing and jostling to get some leg-space. 

I wasn't always this fast, though.

When I first came to Mumbai, I couldn't tell one station from another. I used to stick to my friends for fear of getting lost. One day, the dreaded moment arrived. None of my friends were free and I had to visit another suburb for some personal work. I braced myself, bought a ticket and soon was standing on the platform.

Seeing the train arrive from a distance reminded me of my college days when seeing the examiner approach with the exam papers would cause a thousand butterflies to perform Bharata Natyam in my poor stomach. The train came. And went.

I was left on the platform, gaping. This is what happened -- while everyone else was pushing and jostling, I had been politely waiting my 'turn.' Only after one or two experiences did I realise that politeness and getting into the train do not go hand in hand. 

The next lesson I learnt was how not to lose your handbag in 10 seconds. If you don't clutch your handbag tightly while climbing in, you'll soon find it journeying without you. More, though, on another day.

Mamta Murthy, Mumbai

The circus is back!

There's a brand new circus troupe in town. This one goes by the name of Empire Circus. People are flocking to see elephants ride mini-bicycles backward, clowns ride horses and trapeze artistes contort their bodies every which way.

But the times have changed. When I went to the circus, a regular ticket would cost Rs 2.50. The most expensive ticket then cost Rs 20. Today, the red-lettered ticket window reads: Rs 25, Rs 50, Rs 75, Rs 100. Expensive!

Meanwhile, I'm stuck in traffic. Normally, it just takes me 10 minutes to get home from work. Now, I'm been stuck mid-highway, for 15. And I'm nowhere near home yet.

"Arre, circus choot gaya na madam. Aaj kal circus ka bhoot chal raha hai. Kya karenge log cinema dekh ke? Yeh picture-victure se sab log thak gaye hain. Abhi circus mein mazaa hai [The circus show has just ended. These days, everyone's flocking to see it. Everyone's bored of watching films]."

Sita Menon, Mumbai

Love bug
An Alsatian roams free...
Car, Car Baby
Nude pictures?
Of red BMWs and silver Jaguars
No booze, God is on the premises
Birds, bees and elephants

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

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