Thursday, February 27, 2014

Every Wife's Dilemma

It’s not easy for married men to understand what married women go through. Sharing the bed with a jerk like you and signing a treaty to share the TV remote is the least of their worries. They have bigger issues to grapple with. Stuff like giving up on their family, quitting on their childhood friends, scaling down their ambitions, relocating to a strange new home and donning your surname just because you happen to wear the pants in the society, weigh heavily on their heads.

Most men can relate to everything but the name change. ‘What’s the big deal about giving up a maiden name?’ you may ask. Well, try renaming yourself post wedding and you’ll understand. Imagine Rajiv Gandhi marrying Sonia Maino and changing his name to Rajiv Maino. Do you think he would have become the Prime Minister? That’s the point I am making. Every surname comes with its own destiny and by forcing women to surrender theirs, you’re actually tinkering with their future.

Unfortunately, the practice of taking a man’s name is the norm in large parts of the world. In the USA, 65% of married women confessed to have opted for a new surname. That includes stars such as Jessica Biel (now Jessica Timberlake), Salma Hayek (Salma Pinault), Eva Longoria (Eva Parker) and Jennifer Garner (Jennifer Affleck). But the silver lining is that for every Garner there’s an Aniston who refuses to forego her identity even she finds a Brad Pitt.

The trouble with adorning the hubby’s surname is most apparent after a divorce. Demi Moore learnt this the hard way when she became @MrsKutcher on twitter. After the break up with young Ashton, her twitter handle now reads as @JustDemi.

That’s one of the reasons why celebs are opting for unhyphenated double-barrelled surnames. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, and Kim Kardashian West are some examples of this genre.

The visionary ‘Beatle’ John Lennon tried something different. When he married Yoko Ono, he became John Winston Ono Lennon and she became Yoko Ono Lennon. In my book, it’s always better to be retain your identity à la Vidya Balan, Gauri Shinde, Kiran Rao or Sania Mirza, as it gives your child an option to choose another surname.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Different Kind of Beast

Any man who wears cow dung and fish glue as perfume to impress his chick must be really wacked out. And if Salvador Dali happened to be that guy, you’d expect nothing lesser. Talking of Mr. Dali, the story goes that, one day, he walked into a restaurant in Manhattan with his pet in tow. A lady seated nearby panicked as it looked like a real leopard. Dali soothed her frayed nerves by informing her that he had done some optical art on his cat to make it look like a leopard. She was gullible enough to buy his yarn. Little did she know that his pet ‘Babou’ was an ocelot or a dwarf leopard from Colombia!

The surrealist painter was neither the first nor the last chap to pet a bizarre animal. A few years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio zapped everyone by showing up at the American Reptile Breeders Conference and Trade Show. He had hopped over to buy ‘Jack’, a 10-year-old tortoise that weighed 17 Kgs. Wonder if the tort is now playing ‘Catch Me If You Can’ with Leo.

In comparison, George Clooney went the whole hog when he shared his bed, home and life for 18 full years with a Vietnamese black bristled potbellied pig called ‘Max the Star’. David Beckham is another superstar with a fascination for the swine. He has two micro-pigs sportingly named after his family friends Elton John and David Furnish. Joining the pig-heads is Miley Cyrus. She was gifted ‘Nora’ by PETA on her 20th birthday. Ever since our lady has been ‘wrecking balls’ either twerking or booty shaking.

Mike Tyson and Michael Jackson were made of sterner stuff. At different points in time, they had tigers as pals when the world preferred pooches. Michael Jackson’s Bengal tigress was ‘Thriller’ and Tyson’s went by the name ‘Kenya’.

‘Legally Blonde’ starlet Reese Witherspoon’s best buddies are donkeys ‘Honky’ and ‘Tonk’, and goats ‘Booker T Washington’ and ‘Lavender Valentine’. Charlie Sheen, in contrast, has a lizard as his pal that goes by the name ‘Hopper Jr’. While Kirsten Stewart spends all her twilights with her wolf dogs ‘Jack’, ‘Lily’, ‘Tommy’ and ‘Lola’. If dinosaurs had been around, I bet, someone would have petted them too.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Going with the flow

If nations were living, breathing creatures, rivers would be the arteries that carry the oxygen-rich liquid of life to the remotest corners of the body. By meandering hither and thither, and snaking its way through steep canyons, the average rivulet slakes the thirst of the parched earth, irrigates vast deserts and creates cosy coastlines for civilisations to bloom, all while breaking rocks, busting boulders and flowing against all odds.

To the rather impressive résumé of rivers, add the not-so-measly achievement of changing the destiny of billions by lending their names to things you can’t even imagine.

Very many countries owe their venerable names to the ebb and flow of serpentine water bodies. There would be no ‘India’ had it not been for the River Indus. ‘Bosnia’ wouldn’t have made it to the maps, if not for Bosna. ‘The Gambia’ owes its existence to a watery namesake in West Africa. Ditto with Uruguay, Paraguay, Nigeria, Moldova, Jordan, and Zambia.

Even states like Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Iowa and Ohio; cities like Moscow, Amsterdam, Des Moines, and Minsk; towns like Cambridge, Plymouth, Dartmouth, Arundel, Ashbourne; and locales like Adyar and Kabini, owe their names to rivers.

If that were not enough, Indian Railways has Jhelum, Godavari, Brahmaputra, Vaigai, Gomti, Indrayani, Ganga-Kaveri, Tapti-Ganga, Ganga-Jamuna and Ganga-Sutlej Expresses chugging along the length and breadth of our country.

You might be surprised to know that many leading brands have profited by trademarking creeks and estuaries. Finnish telecom giant Nokia is a derivation from the Nokianvirta that connects the Lake Pyhajarvi to Lake Kulovesi. American computer software company Adobe got its label from the Adobe Creek that ran behind the houses of founders John Warnock and Chuck Geschke. Commercial Trucks major Isuzu Motors gets its moniker from River Isuzu in Mie Prefecture, Japan. World’s largest online retailer is perhaps the best known advertisement for river-themed names.

Back in India, the Nyle shampoo from Cavin Kare, the Ganga sabun from Godrej, and the Goa-based Zuari Agro Chemicals are tiny tributaries of the urge to tap the power of rivers. Wonder if the technique will ever wash with our hard nosed customers.