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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pettikattal or packing

Going on leave to India for people in the Gulf is an occasion ,

even though these days it is not a big deal as things are convinient and one can fly at ones whim if the timing is correct .

Earlier the interval was longer and the preparation was also elaborate

Those days one had to buy the mandatory foriegene things for the near and kin as India was starved of such goodies

Today it like taking coal to Lancashire as almost everything is available there and sometimes with better choices too !

As I was packing today for my trip tomorrow my friend Biju came to put some items in a carton and pack it neatly .

Biju was an expert in so many things and neat packing was his forte ,and he was a boon to a clumsy person like me

As we packed Biju was recounting on the yesteryear Dubai when packing was an event by itself .

It was called Pettikattal or tying the bags !

most of them used to use cartons to pack all the nitty gritty they bought and there were some experts who were sought after for the act .

This was very common among the workers who used to go home once in say two or three years and had a lot to pack

The D Day was usually the eve of departure and many friends used to come to the room of the person who was going home for the pettikattal event .

some experts even came long distances for it ,

It would begin usually in the dusk and many would be fortified by a peg or two ,there would be hoots of laughter at the selection of things bought and the traveller would be the butt of many jokes ,it was a happy occasion indeed for all including the friends who werent going as they anticipated thier D Days and it would end with a sumptous dinner and lot of back tapping .

some experts in pettikattal prided that the bags they packed were never opened by the customs ! ( rememebr those were the days that the customs stripped all bags and left it like that so much so that the bag owner disgusted at the long act of waiting and worry over paying duty just put them all together in heap and lugged them home )

One hardly finds such incidents these days !

I asked one of the old timers about this pettikattal as it intrigued me ,

Mr Ummer a Gulf vetran working in Abudhabi university told me during pettikattal some even put old torn underwears , old khuboos or torn lungies along with the packed items so that the friend got an emabarassing shock when he unpacked them in front of an adoring family !

there was lot of fun and frolic and it was a gay event indeed .

so today with my "pettikattal "over I thought i will pen this before I start home tomorrow !

Thursday, September 16, 2010

what is in a name ?

A rose by any other name is still a rose !
Add Image But still a name is a name .
In Advaita philosophy life itself and all of us are just illusions and our existence is described by that wonderful term MAYA which has no equal in the queens language and so our names and ourselves are actually quite worthless .
But for a mere mortal like me Advaithic thoughts dont come in the way of name attachment .
We are so much used to our names that we see ourselves as a projection to our names
All of us are happy when somebody calls us or remembers us by name
This has been one of the oldest tricks in the chicken soup for your soul business !
Remember names to keep winning in life .
With an inborn amnesia bordering on the early Alzheimers for me name remembering exercises have been one mostly of embarassaments and fiascos .

To make a long story short this post is all about my name and its mutations after coming to the gulp sorry Gulf .
I always knew myself as Harimohan
( heard my parents wanted only Hari but added the appendage to please a friendly neighbourhood longnose who insisted on adding Mohan why should he do that ? ).
So I got a Mohan as a tail due to no fault of mine .
Hari with Mohan is not very common but Hariharans ,Harikumars and Harikrishnans grew wild like weeds specially down in the south .
There are lot of Punjabis who were Harmohans I heard .
Neither my appearance nor outlook would fit a burly sardar or a brawn muscled Panjabi Jat.
Iam neither tall nor sturdy and would would describe myself as a podgy spectacled wimp who could never ever burst into a Bangra on hearing balle .balle .
( I have just 2 left legs you see ).
I did search Harimohans in Google and surprisingly found that the first few searches were on me and my blog ( you can try it ).
There was a Harimohan.p who was a writer
well I liked that .
After all all Harimohans dont end up dreaming to become writers ,
some also do so !
I did contact this Harimohan and he was nice of enough to reply to me and keep in touch .
Now I am coming to the heart of the matter which is to dwelve upon the mutilations my name suffered the last three years .
I work in Tawam hospital run by the Johns hopkins group .
It has a resonable sprinkling of humanity from all corners of the earth as its staff
( they say around 80 countries ! ).
The day I joined here they called me into the office by the name Dr Narayanan as my passport shows me as Narayanan Harimohan ( Narayanan is my fathers name )
I ignored the call for some time before enlightment dawned on me and then sauntered in creating the impression of having an auditory disability .
Slowly friends and colleagues started calling me Hari .
Formally I was Dr.Harimohan.
The Filipino nurses who were in abundance generally spoke in thier tingling high pitched tones converting names to thier Legalo language .
To them I was Harimona !
Monne in malayalam my mother tongue is an endearing adjective akin to darling so no issues there .

To the whites what could I be other than Haaaarry .
Some nurses made it a habit to call me Haarry potter !
my pot luck I should say
( in Malayalam potter is kosavan so it is Harry kosavan no potters from Kerala dont hail from Serbia Kosova !)
The Arabs( syrians ,jordanians ,Algerians ,Morrocans ,Somalis ,Ethiopians ,Sudanese Iranians ,Iraqis you name them we have them )
like to call me Hani or Harith which are familiar to them .
I often got phone calls directed to my Iraqi friend and plastic surgeon Harith Al Ani
In the ER ,Hani was another physician who often got confused with me !
The South African nurses would sometimes would call me honey !
( Honey I would kill you if you give me more work )
The best part of it was in one formal letter I was even called Hairmohan .
Well that takes the cake for someone who doesnt have a lot of this crowning glory .
Narayanan and Hari both are lord Krishnas names .
How I fit the honour I dont know
I too have a roving eye like him but had never been so sucessful .
So all is not in a a name itself you know .
Down here people are called by the family and the fathers name .
Bin means son of ( like Osama Bin Laden .....Osama son of Laden )
So I would be Hari Bin Narayanan if I take from my father .
If it is from my paternal grandfather I would be Hari Bin Moose no no not mouse he was Parameswaran Moose an Ayurvedic phsyician ( The Mooses are a Namboothiri clan who have a penchant for medicine as thier profession )
some of his genes wouldhave been swimming in my professional chromosomes !
If I take from my maternal grandfather I would have been Hari Bin Raja
That sounds a bit pompous ,but he was P.C.Manavedan Raja of Padinjara Kovilakam Mankavvu Calicut ( Iam showing off you see )
Thankfully Iam nothing of these
I am still your plain old Hari


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