Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The 'Phone' Identity

At work, the cubicle right across mine is shared by a couple of new joinees from another team. One of them is this jumpy youngster who can be often seen having outrageously loud conversations on the phone. When he’s not on the phone, he keeps himself busy with free coffee and snacks in the cafeteria. Both ways, ensuring he utilizes the office resources to his fullest capacity, of course. His repertoire also includes top-of-the-line acting skills, which is at its best when he swings into action, staring really hard at the monitor or typing away on his keyboard, at the sight of his project lead approaching his desk!:) Interesting bloke this huh?

But this is not about him.

This is about his cube-mate - the really quiet and unassuming Tamil girl, M. One would hardly notice M in that cube, except maybe on days when she’s wearing that extremely fragrant posy of jasmine flowers in her hair. Those are the days when the maintenance guys breathe easy, considering that they have one less task on their hand –of spraying room freshener in our floor.

M and I do exchange smiley hellos everyday and there’s the occasional small-talk about work. But, nothing beyond that.

So this week, as I headed home from work, I met M in the elevator lounge. As soon as we stepped into the elevator, her cellphone rang. And what I saw when she held up the cellphone to see who was calling, left me stunned!

Husband” said the caller id display.

Husband? HUSBAND??

Alright,in my defense, I didn’t really mean to snoop or anything. But then, all thanks to the horde of over-enthu people wanting to run home, squeezed into the elevator , I had her standing right in front of me. And in the extremely small distance that separated us, if she held up something to her face, it was as good as holding it up to mine!

As I picked up my jaw that had dropped to the elevator floor by then, I wondered for a second if I’d misread the display. It couldn’t be that, could it?? Sadly enough, I hadn’t.

My first thought was this - You’d probably store your plumber’s name as “Plumber” in your phonebook, just because he’s identified that way a little more quickly than by his name, if he called. But surely, your husband deserves a better deal, doesn’t he?

And then through my daily
bus journey back home, as I wondered what on earth made her refer to her husband by a name as cold as err.. “Husband”, a particular ritual in my wedding came to mind..
That was when the new bride (that would be me), was welcomed into G’s home for the first time after the wedding. The ritual is to stop the bride at the doorstep and “taunt” her by asking her to pronounce her husband’s name.
The rule is that the new bride has to act all demure and blush till her cheeks turn a dark shade of red and keep refusing. And the “taunters” will have the question on loop until you decide to give up.

Not meaning to sound curt, “G” , I blurted out immediately, in a tone that asked a “Didn’t you know that?” to the aunty who asked. Of course there was this cuteness factor associated with the ritual and most of them had a good laugh and all that. But still, I’m sure there were a few aunties and grannies in that room who’d frowned upon the rather audacious bahu.

Of course, we all know scores of women who don’t call their husbands by name. Most of our grandmoms and sometimes, even moms don’t. In fact, its commonplace to refer to one’s husband as one’s “yejamanru” (literally translated to “master”) in many a household in our state.
I ain’t no rabid feminist, but then this one still gets my goat.
Clearly, the term “better half” for a wife, wouldn’t sit well with people who coined this term.
I don’t even see them agreeing to “half”, let alone “better”.
To them, it all probably stems from the thought that your husband is someone you put on a pedestal. Someone you look up to and believe is only second to God (“patidev” after all eh?).

Does it sound a little too archaic for our times? Maybe, it does. But then, for M, it probably doesn’t.

I hope, things change soon with time and M gives a nicer name to her husband in her phonebook
For all we know, maybe I am just over-reacting to an innocuous phonebook entry or probably that’s her nick for him(it's possible, you know) or maybe she’s just being funny!

But seriously.. “Husband”??

26 comments:

Anu said...

I know a colleague whose wife stores his name in the cellphone as "Jamun". I think I'd opt "Husband" over that any day. LoL!

Sachin said...

Hey Smi (ta?), thanks for dropping by my blog!! And for the comment as well...yes, memories, especially those of our formative years are the ones that make up our mental makeup.

Went through your blog and enjoyed reading most of your posts. So, you're from Bangalore - love that city myself, have quite a few friends and relatives there. Hope to visit it with my wife sometime this year...

Btw, I've had a colleague who saved his wife's phone number as "Wifey" but I thought that was kinda cute! Keep blogging and keep visiting..

Cheers!!

itchingtowrite said...

apart from your thoughts, i think it is extremely dangerous.. anyone can sms her as husband and get details of bank account or other things if she leaves her phone lying around

Smi said...

@anu
Well, "Jamun" could be to her what "Vanilla ice cream" is to me, so no comments on that!:-P

@sachin
Welcome! Yup,Bangalore is a charming city, even with its relentless traffic jams blah blah!:)
Hey, just imagine if ur friend stored the number as "Wife"(much like the "Husband" on M's fone), doesn't that sound a lot more colder and indifferent as compared to the cutesy "Wifey"? I'm sure, u'd agree!:)

@ITW
Well, I never thought abt that angle, guess I was way too stunned!:-P

Anonymous said...

very funny! you should that ms.M to change the name on her phone.
infact i call my husband as "husband" when I am mad at him - that's a hint to stay away from me.

Pixie said...

Hi! Thanks for dropping by my blog :)
It does sound weird to keep the name as "Husband" in the cell phone.
Reading some of your posts and I really enjoyed myslef here!

Cheers!

Smi said...

@anon
When I saw the "very funny" at the beginning of ur comment, I interpreted it as a mockery sorta "very funny"!:) But hey, thanks for dropping by..and it's interesting to know u call ur husband that when u're mad at him..I mean, u've almost made it a gaali!:))

@pixie
Welcome here! And thank you!:)

Anonymous said...

no mockery dear. it was truely very funny. i was even picturing ur colleague M with lots of jasmine flowers and flowery printed silk salwar kameez. Nice writing style , I enjoy reading your blog :-)

Zenith said...

Hey S,

Great bunch of posts! I am amazed by your recall and introspection! Nutrine pineapple flavored candies! :O ..Damn! I should have been your in class....I used to hand out Melody toffees! :)

"Husband" is pretty unimaginative nick ..but what's in a name right? ;)

accidental diva said...

I swear the first thing I thought when I read this post was..."seriously...husband????":):)

guess Ms. M's "husband" has her name saved as "Wife"in his mobile...lol

Shyam said...

ha ha ha. good one. nagu banthu reading this.
husband??? this is age of 'baaro hOgo' antha andhkoddidhe!!

Toe Knee said...

Husband! Yes, that does sound funny. But I guess if she was really mad at him, she would have referred to him as 'Dark Lord' or 'Devil' of 'Nemesis' :)

Smi said...

@anon
Thank you very much!:) Hope to see you around, going forward as well..

@zenith
Welcome back to the blog!:)
Considering that we studied in the same college and hadn't even seen each other before we ended up in the same company, I wouldn't be surprised if we actually were in the same school, buddy!
Oh and yeah, Melody was among the favorites of birthday kids too!:)

@Accidental diva
Hahaha!:)) Probably he would do that to take revenge!:))

@shyam
Yes, I thought that this was a "baarohogo" generation too, but my tryst with M, rather her phonebook was an eye-opener!

@toeknee
Welcome here!:)
Hmm.."Dark Lord", probably yes, considering that it has the word "Lord"(never mind the "dark")..but "Evil" must probably sacrilege for poor M!:))

Deeps said...

Lol :))))

One of my first conditions to my hubby was that I wouldn't call him "Reeeeeeeee" or "Enooooooondre" or "Ivre". I am from the "baaro-hogo" generation myself and I feel that has in some way brought us closer than the "Banni-hogi" people :).

I'm really surprised at M though. I mean I thought girls who have mobiles store their hubby's names with some sweet nicknames and so on. Well, maybe I'm the only romantic around :-D.

Orchid said...

Lol!!...maybe she did it in case she forget who he was ...no really LOL!!...good one!

Anonymous said...

Great reading your blogs 'Smi'. I love the attention to detail.
Looking forward to your next post.

Smi said...

@deeps
Surely this "girl with mobile" didn't bother with anything sweet!:)
About your other point, it's great that the "baaro-hogo" thingy worked well for you guys, but I guess it takes a while for couples to get there. Ours is not exactly an arranged marriage and we knew each other for like a year, yet G and I used plurals for each other for quite some time before we got to singular mode!

@orchid
Thanks!:)Oh Man! Like I mentioned in the post, u'd probably forget ur plumber's name, but your husband?!:-))

@Anon
Thanks for stopping by!:)It's great to see nice comments from people who'd prefer to remain anon. Doesn't happen too often in the blogosphere!:)

temporary insanity said...

hi smi
reading the part of being asked your husband's name on entering their house for the first time made me remember a similar funny thingy from my wedding very recently!!

but seriously "husband" is the limit!! i irritate my husband by calling him ree... or swami lol...:). but i am sure there are many out there who indulge in such "name calling" ;)

temporary insanity said...

btw, nice blog!!!

Smi said...

@temporary insanity
Hey thanks for dropping by!:)
From ur most recent post, I gather u've tied the knot real recently..so the memory of the ritual must still be fresh in ur mind!!:)

Sunita said...

Maybe she also has my son, my daughter, youngest sister and so on ... LOL :)

Thanks for the visit and you have a nice interesting blog here.

Smi said...

@sunita
Thanks for dropping by!
I pray to God that "Husband" is the only out-of-the-way entry in her phonebook!:)

Ish said...

"husband" huh? funny,

one of my friend had put his wife's phone no into the phone book as "Aapaya" [Danger]Heh heh heh

Shiv said...

Lolz. Nice post about that husband thing. Now dun ask me if my ph book entry wud be 'Hubby thing'. Yet to decide on that. Few more years to go for that. anyways, smi actually refers to my mail id at work. just that mine is smu. Grinz.

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