A Rose By Any Other Name…

January 5, 2011

I don’t know what my parents were thinking when they gave me my nickname. Poupee, apparently, means doll. Whoever would want to go through life being called “doll” by all and sundry? Especially when one doesn’t have an even remotely “doll-ish” personality? If you go to see an old-fashioned Hollywood flick, it would be ok to have an adult female character called “Doll” only provided that character was a blond bimbette (the bimbette part being at least as important as the blond part; although my spellchecker says there’s no such word as bimbette) who was coquettish, obviously sexy, and completely empty-headed. Ideally this would also be a character that ended up dead halfway through the movie. Obviously, I do not resemble this prototypical doll from any angle. And apart from such a character, I can’t think of any adult who could do justice to the name “doll” – in any language.

Doll? You think?

Thankfully, most people who know my nickname don’t know what it means – it only means that in French. And come to think of it, how pseud is that? To nickname your daughter in French? Ugh!

What’s even worse, as my friend Supriya kindly pointed out to me when we were only just barely acquainted, is that various abbreviations of Poupee – “poo”, “poop”, and even the homonym “poopie” are all indicative of a certain form of excrement in colloquial English.

All the same, Poupee is what I was called at home and it became the name I called myself. Of course I have a formal name: Anamika. And again, I wonder what on earth my parents were thinking. It means: one without a name. But then, these are the same parents who wanted to nickname my sister “Pennycandy”. Shudder. My mother must have had a weird sense of humour when she was younger. (Not that it’s much better now…) Luckily for my sister, she escaped that fate and wound up without a nickname. Her friends supplied various dreadful ones to fill the gap during her school years, but I doubt they were as bad as “Pennycandy”.

As for me, I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to convince people that Anamika, apart from meaning “nameless one” is also the name of the ring finger. Thankfully, nobody has yet been so lacking in civility as to ask why anyone would want to call their daughter by the name of the third finger.

Since Poupee was what all the people close to me called me, I liked the name. (Back then, I hadn’t found out what it meant.) I liked people I liked to call me Poupee. Family friends, family members, and friends of my sister called me Poupee. Anamika was for school. Over the first couple of decades of my life, those few school friends who bridged the divide between school and home switched to calling me Poupee. Amit called me Poupee from day one. “Anamika” became my formal, outdoors persona, while “Poupee” was me.

It was only when I started working that I really became Anamika. My early writings as a journalist were published under that name, and for the first time, I felt “Anamika” begin to develop into a real person – as opposed to just being an external wrapping for Poupee.

In 2001, I joined a workplace that already had an Anamika. It was too difficult to have two Anamikas in a six-person team, so I got to pick a name. I didn’t want to be Poupee in my workplace, and the other Anamika was also sometimes called Ana, so I had little choice but to settle for Mika. And actually, I somehow liked it. I liked the oddity of it being the second part of my name, instead of the first. I liked the pointy sound of the ‘i’ sandwiched between the ‘M’ and the ‘k’. I even liked that it reminded me of Mika Hakkinnen, the only other Mika I’d ever heard of.

It turned out to be a very good idea, too. In that organization, I worked with people from various parts of the world, and you wouldn’t believe the number of different and horrible ways that the name Anamika can be spoken. There’s only one right way to say it, which is music to my ears. Any other way, and you run the risk of being silently but terribly cursed by me. And while I try to make allowances for different accents and different interpretations of the written symbols, my patience really runs out when even Indians who have stayed abroad for a bit make a mess out of my name. Mika was much less likely to cause me to burst a blood vessel – it’s just two syllables, four uncontroversial letters, consonants and vowels alternating. How difficult can that be. (Of course, my then manager managed to turn it into Mikka, but she had a lot of far greater crimes to her credit, so it’s hardly even worth mentioning that.)

A few of my friends still call me Anamika. Several call me Mika, including some who didn’t work with me at that organization but got to know the name either through this blog or through common friends. A few – typically those who know me through Amit – call me Poupee. One eccentric creature calls me Poops (which is ok coming from her, but nobody else had better dare try it). My paternal grandmother, who didn’t get on with my mother (obviously), called me Pupu until I became old enough to make it clear that that was unacceptable even from a grandmother.

And I? In this multitude of names, what do I call myself? Which name do I like the most? What do I want people I like to call me? Strangely enough, I just don’t know any more. Or maybe, it doesn’t matter anymore. After all, as the Bard said, what’s in a name? That which we call Anamika, by any other name would still be me!

The Stay-at-Home Holiday

January 3, 2011

If anyone had told me that I’d take a nine-day vacation someday to just stay at home and relax… and that I’d enjoy it… I’d have said they were completely off their rocker.

But that’s what we did – and I did enjoy it. Totally!

The first few days of the holidays, my parents were here, so that was fun, of course. After they left on Tuesday, we still had the better part of a week to relax, unwind, and catch up on all the little bits of life that get left out the rest of the year. When we’d planned this stay-at-home holiday (or rather, when we’d realized that we hadn’t planned to go away anywhere), I had put together a long list of things I wanted to do during this time.

  1. I have 3 issues of the National Geographic magazine to catch up on
  2. I haven’t filed, sorted, and uploaded photos since May
  3. I haven’t read the book on Hadrian’s Villa that I bought in Italy; or any book, come to that, apart from Archaeology text books that are so successful in putting me to sleep
  4. I have to run down a couple of cheque payments that went astray and now require the whole stamp-paper-indemnity-letter runaround
  5. I haven’t been for a movie since I don’t know when; it would also be nice to get away for a meal or two with Amit without the kids
  6. I would love to have more time to play tennis
  7. I want to take the kids swimming – they have been asking for the longest time, but there’s never enough time!
  8. I could really use a sleep holiday – when I get to sleep right up till the time I wake up naturally

Of these, I achieved only 1 (partially – one issue is still left untouched, and no, that’s not the January issue, I haven’t got that yet), 2 (in the last few hours of the last day of the holiday), and 8. And I read one book. One. (Henning Mankell – heard of him? I hadn’t.) Agenda items 4, 6, and 7 were non-starters. As for 5, we did manage a couple of meals out together by packing the kids off to daycare, but the only movie we saw was Hidalgo, on TV – and that too, on New Year’s Eve, no less.

I’d hoped to at least catch up with many friends in the long break, but we didn’t even manage to do that. In fact, between the day before Christmas and the day after New Year, we didn’t have a single social get-together. This, at precisely that time of year when everyone is meeting up with everyone else and partying like there’s no tomorrow. All I wanted to do was stay home, relax, drink some more beer and/or wine, cook something simple and not too unhealthy, and go to sleep early. So that’s what we did and it was really nice!

I honestly don’t know where the rest of the time went. There were days at a stretch when I didn’t so much as turn on my laptop, even though it was sitting there on the desk and looking at me dolefully. It was most refreshing. I don’t think I’d want to do this again in a hurry, but it was definitely been a happy experience. Who’d ever have thought that staying at home could be just as enjoyable a holiday as going out somewhere?

Photos and a Video of the Twins

January 3, 2011

There are a few new photos of the twins up on Flickr.

And there’s this brief video of their Christmas dance show:

Mrini is the second from the right. Tara, poor thing, is completely hidden because she was put in the back row. The big, tall chap in front is the dance master.

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