Archive for April, 2008|Monthly archive page

Indian names…

ahahahah…today i’m facing the same difficulties deciphering and remembering similar given names in India that I had when I first arrived in the United States.

When I arrived in the US meeting a lot of Johns, Bobs, Bills, Mikes, and Robs right of the bat, it was tricky for a french speaking Swiss to pick-up quickly these short surnames. They all blurred into a little small sound that did not resonate enough in my brain to make a deep enough mark. I was unable to repeat people’s name right after the first round around the room in official introductions ! Not good.

Anyhow, today I’m faced with the same feelings but in India. I have a hard time remembering who’s Vinod, Vishal, Vikram, Viral or Vikas. Too many V’s and my brain has not been wired to get all those in one go. At least not yet. They feel pretty different and varied for the locals of course and everybody looks at me, like if something was wrong with me, but I gurantee you that it’s not short of trying.

I’ve managed to get a special memory section to remember the Bills,Bobs and Mikes so time is on my side to do the same with the Vineeth, Vaibhav or Vinayak.

But don’t forget I sure would see you too getting at a party and being introduced around – “Bonjour je m’appelle Jean-Pierre, moi c’est Jean-Marc, moi c’est Jean-Paul, moi c’est Paul-Henri, moi c’est Jean-Philippe !”

Ha.

I love it. Diversity is blessed.

Good to be alive.

Advertisements

Holi Festival of Colors

This week-end …ok ok …it was last week-end when I started this draft but now it’s more 3 weeks ago week-end kind of, anyhow, it was an big celebration week-end in India. All around the world actually this year. Easter for Christians, Eid ul-Adha for Persians, Spring Break for the United States and Holi for many Indians. Apologies for certainly forgetting to mention many many others. But for us it was Holi, here in Mumbai, India.

Holi known around the world for its festival of colors. You know, when everybody in the streets throw colors and water at everybody else with a big smile. You have probably seen pictures of this celebration already !

kids on our street that day !

It’s like our ‘Carnaval’ actually. A pretext for young people to have a lot of fun, and for ‘males’ to drink and dance a lot. I say that because many of my indian female colleagues advertised this amazing celebration to me, the foreigner, whilst quietly mentioning that they would not personally go out on that day! Potential abuses of drunk people were enough to keep a lot of people in, it seemed. We were warned.

Holi celebrates many things. The end of Winter and the beginning of the Harvest. But mainly it is attached to the story of Holika. A legend in the Hindu mythology where a particular King wanted to be worshiped by his people like a God. He had been granted a wish by Brahma who made him almost invincible. Everybody was looking up to this King except his own son. Prahlad who continued to worship Vishnu. The King wished to kill his own son and to do so asked his own daughter Holika to help him. Knowing she had a gift of not being affected and harmed by fire, he asked her to go sit in a bonfire with Prahlad on her lap. The story goes that Prahlad chanted Vishnu’s name and was not hurt while Holika burned to her death.

So on Holi night people put on a bonfire around 11pm or midnight and dance all around it. Holika is celebrated. All your past problems should now stay behind you and the next day should be a new beginning. That what’s Holi – the Festival of Colors is symbolizing on the next morning. People start the day by splashing colors at each others. I mean kids do! Adults prefer to apply pigments gently on your forehead while wishing you a Happy Holy.

Having a family staying with us with two young girls and their mother, we didn’t dare to go deep in Mumbai town to check things out. We only went down the street in our neighborhood and to the fishing village. We met our neighbors and it was a delightful day. First because no drunk were annoying enough to ruin our day and even everybody was really respectful and polite, asking us prior if we wanted to get splashed. Secondly, because like I said we met our neighbors. And I mean we are surrounded by all types of caste people and degrees of wealth. So coming down the hill from our Las vegas-like building and being greeted to come in and take the tea in the probably poorest family of the street was a wonderful and human experience. Since then they are the only people I salute and I share smiles and hand movements with every morning when I go down to get the bus.

Happy Holy !