Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life and Times of Yogabhai Tabbhai Lenovo...

I have often wondered how language, per se, came into being.  And how the language developed further, with the various words , the nuances, the inflections of voice, the acceptable variations and so on and so forth.

For many many centuries , possibly millenniums, language was restricted to communications amongst humans.

And then we decided to design languages that machines would understand.  Even then , it was English, and so many commands in those languages, matched with what you wanted to do , as understood in English (eg, Move, Add, Store etc etc). Technology moved so fast after that , that in my lifetime, we have moved from a room size mainframe, with punch card input, to PC desktops,  to laptops, to Internet on cell phones and smart watches.

This big tech jump, combined with a massive marketing effort has caused the most outrageous assault on the English  language with random words being used for even more random actions. 

I mean, burn was what happened when fire entered the scene, and not when you wrote things on a CD.  Boot was a hefty footwear, you simply wore for NCC parades, and in winter.  Pasting involved gum. Sometimes pasting was about someone getting a physical punishment.  Audacity was what you displayed when you wanted to defy or shock conservative middle aged folks. Windows were means of ventilation, and stuff you leaned out of. Desktops were where you spilt tea and coffee, displayed photos in frames, and kept 25 pens in pen holders with built-in calendars.  Those prone to crashes were bad car drivers, and your glass crockery. And hanging was related to wasting time with friends, or suspending something from somewhere, (when you were not talking about capital punishment).

Today, tablets are not what you swallow to get well. They are actually small town cousins of the aforementioned laptops.

The English language has now been truly and clearly abused with most words having multiple meanings, none of them using any logic.  I just wish Steve Jobs had invented the Mango instead of the Apple.

But wait. The Lenovo folks have now come up with the Yoga Tablet.  Aum My God !

Contrary to what simple minded types might surmise, this is not a medicine. It is a tablet computer (sometimes combined with a phone facility)  which can assume various Yoga postures .  It boggles the mind as to why then, in keeping with the distinct desi flavors, they haven't used the Pav Bhaji Android OS,   or the  GulabJam Android OS,  and the blindingly white Happydent  types want to know why Bluetooth were favoured over them, when they even offered a flashlight facility free.  And then  they even mention 2G, 3G in connectivity. All these legislative connections. I am so convinced that it is a scam.

You can buy the 8 inch or 10 inch version of this Yoga Tablet, and if you do so before Nov 24, 2013, the Lenovos are giving a bunch of stuff free, like, a sleeve cover, protective film and earphones.   

Aiyyo ! So much like buy a silk Paithani saree, and get a plastic bag, blouse piece and matching earrings free. Never mind.

Mr Shailendra Katyal, Director, Lenovo Consumer Affairs , says " "Technology is a part of who we are, therefore it needs to transition constantly to keep pace with our changing lifestyles. With this intent, we have re-engineered the Tablet from ground-up to offer users a better way to experience the Tablet. We are confident that the Yoga Tablet will redefine the category and set the stage for devices that are in sync with the evolving needs of the consumer.

Never have more truer words been said about there being a #betterway....

They keep making a big song and dance about how it has 3 postures , hold, tilt and stand.   

Now  I know.  While the Lenovo tablet may not be able to bend and touch its knees, or do things like Mayuraasan and  Ushtraasan,  it is amazing to realize how real their re engineering (from the ground up, as he says) is.

The "hold" position, believe it or not, with the amazing cylindrical edge,  is ideally designed to fan yourself in the standing-room-only Mumbai BEST bus, while simultaneously keeping your fake sleepy neighbor on the seat from leaning against you shoulder.  For those who still hanker after the days when Ghungats were supreme,  the Yoga tablet comes to life as a Ghungat with a difference. As you protect yourself with the Tablet Ghunghat , you get to click photos of the person on the other side beyond the ghungat (and then post it on Facebook to warn folks).
The "tilt"  position is a bit dicey.  Once again ,  a messing up of meaning. The tablet doesn't just do a gentle tilt; it actually tends to fall flat, with a part of it a bit raised., just like in Bhujangaasan ;  Yoga Tablet, remember ?

And like in some other aasans, it also assumes a totally horizontal attitude.  Naturally it lends itself to so many multifarious uses.  You use it to place papers on, when you need to urgently write a note to someone.  When friends suddenly land up, and it is bad manners to be caught staring at a screen, the surface provides a special unique spot to keep your plate of bhel which you have just rustled up for all. When you are lying on your stomach, there can be no greater joy, than placing your cheek against a warm screen , and hear a fan whir in your ear , taking you back to your childhood , of someone's warm palm resting on your face, and a whirring fan overhead. Yes the tilt position is dicey, but the secret can now be told.  The Lenovos want to take you back to your childhood.

There is so much Yoga to be performed standing.  And the third speciality position of this tablet is "stand" .  But unlike humans who can do tadaasan, garudaasana , ashwathaasana , Urdhva-Hastottanasana, and assorted stuff, without having anything to lean on, this Yoga tablet, cheats a bit, and has a small kick stand that keeps it standing.  

Come to think of it,  there are so many ideas the Lenovos haven't thought of.  

Like having music and piano scores on sheets replicated on these screens, and instead of keeping a music score sheet on the  piano shelf, you keep the Yoga Tab, and the page gets turned with a tap of the foot  as you continue to make music!   

Like attaching  some loops to one side , maybe the cylindrical side. Wear the Lenovo Yoga Tab as a pendant on some chunky chains.  And in a direct challenge to all those devotees of Bills, Gates ,Windows, and the displayed windows  logo, create technology that shows the outline of a red heart when the Yoga Tab pendant takes its first booting breath .  Beats all designer jewellery hollow.  And if you want to be really smart and defeat the Apple folks, how about personalizing the logo on sensing the wearer's actual heartbeat. All those folks going on and on , about  I-this and I-that, you cant get more "I" than this. 

 If loops make you feel narcissistic, attach some hooks , in the shape of question marks. Hang the tab over the front seat of the car, or bus, as you watch a great video on it from the rear seat .  Thread your trouser belt through the loops and wear it like a smart badge on your trousers. Those with wider waistlines might wear the 10 inch Yoga Tab, while slightly slimmer folks may enjoy the 8 inch Yoga Tab.  

I know you are getting terribly impressed with the things the Lenovo Yoga Tab can do.  But It isn't over yet. Because there is the alarm.

The ideal Yoga Tab would have a 3 level super intelligent alarm.  When you set the alarm for 4 am or 5 am,  you will have a choice of Gayatri Mantra ringing loudly, which if on snooze, will modify itself to "Jago, sone walon  ..."  after 5 minutes.  If you still don't get up, it will remodify to someone yelling and telling you, non stop, that you are going to miss the CST 7:57 am Central Railway doublefast

After that, the Yoga Tab , frustrated, would go into Pranayam Mode.  Buzzing, swearing, petulantly  beeping.   Making you get up. Finally.      

Actually, someone called Amit Ray once said :

Exercises are like prose, whereas yoga is the poetry of movements.

Yes, sometimes the movements could be Lenovically  electronic....

(Submitted as an entry for the Indiblogger-Lenovo Yoga Tablet contest)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Introducing Smart Eats, with a new OS, "Sangeeta"

(All these smart phone contraptions with jellybeans , icecreamsandwich, and kitkat OS'es .  I guess it is now time to introduce smart eats with human OS'es;  ting tong.... Sangeeta Inside !  Bye Intel)....

Come to think of it, I have been getting a lot of books and stuff by courier these days.  It has become so routine, that no one is even curious about what book it is or even curious about the package.

So it was a bit of a shock for folks, to see a box labelled SMART EATS suddenly making an appearance via courier. Very clearly these were not books.

 Several pairs of eyes lit up, with one pair of hands even willing to open the package for me immediately.  But  I waited.  I had known this was coming. My friend  Sangeeta Khanna is the nutritional advisor to the SmartEats company, and as an avid follower of her cooking and writings, I was looking forward  to what she would be recommending to the company.  And how they would be creating a finished product.

(Sangeeta has done professional rigorous research regarding antioxidants, is a nutritional and botanical expert , and believes  in various traditional aspects of our Indian regional diets, that involve seasonal greens, spices,  good fats, and ways of cooking that preserve the rich nutritional values. She also advises on diet plans for specific health conditions. )  

There were honey roasted cinnamon almonds, tangy plum fruit, fruity Caribbean cookies, walnut browne biscotti, fruity granola bars, and for all those hours you will spend in front of your TV's watching Sachin Tendulkar's final match, a packet of    yummy Jaipuri roasted mixture, to pop into your mouth, every now and then ....

When you have a swimmer in the family,  aware of nutrition et al, you have to be alert to the sudden disappearance of goodies from a box such as this. 

Nevertheless, one was at pains to clarify, that the stuff was to be reviewed, and the reviewer had to taste, and this needed to be kept in mind at all times, by hungry types.

The first to go were the honey roasted cinnamon almonds.   Could have eaten the whole packet but didn't.  Wonderfully crunchy and lightly spiced. Overall , a delightful taste . Loved these. The packet found its way to purses, refrigerators and so on. I must have had, maybe, just 3 almonds. You know who finished the rest.

The Walnut Brownie Biscotti, had just the right type of controlled sweetness, suggestion of walnut, and crunch.  And a sense of lightness. I received a few pieces of it from the powers that were holding it all.  Clearly, some folks would need to develop a taste for this, given that life is today all about creamy sugar icing resting on layers and layers of chocolate. But this stuff, was clearly something I would enjoy with say, and afternoon cup of tea. An urge to dunk it in milk and slurp, cannot be denied.

The individually packed fruity Caribbean Cashew cookies, redolent with cashews grapes and melon seeds . Cookies with a delightful sense of fruit.  Unlike cookies that crunch and crackle, these gleefully disintegrate inside , with just the right amount of sweetness. Those who dream of cookies slathered with buttery cream in rainbow colors , might find these less sweet.  But a lovely filling, snack, that doesn't overpower you, and is heart healthy, since it contains Oleic acid . Go on, have another . 


The Fruity Granola Bars were next.  A powerhouse of oats , honey and fruit and coconut.  Just ideal for chewing on the go,  and individually wrapped. Which is probably a good idea, as there is always a danger of sitting next to a jar of these (unwrapped and ready to eat) and imbibing endlessly while preoccupied with something.  There was a sort of coconut-ty taste that was predominant. It took me back to my school days when we would sometimes have a roasted peanut laddoo after school, and the taste was similar.  In the current packaging and presentation, it is the ideal thing for kids to take in their pockets while rushing out to play.   

What can one say about tangy plum fruit ? From traditional ways of preserving seasonal fruit. Keeping all the micro nutrients intact.  A great tangy snack  that can be had anytime, rich with its natural sugars.  Doesn't make you full.    So much better that sourcing fruit from cold storages, and possibly forcibly chemically ripened.  I loved this dried fruit snack. And so did the swimmer in the family. The almonds however, were still leading in the race.

And then we come to the namkeen member. Yummy jaipuri  mixture. with lots of roasted lentils, dals, nuts  , superbly spiced. Like someone in the family called it, a Chana Chor type mixture. (I think authentic Chaha Chor is rosted on sand ). 

Something that doesn't dissolve the minute you put it in your mouth (say, like Gathiya), but releases its taste as you firmly chew on the crunch. The wonderful part being, that the crunch does not come from frying in oil, but from a great dry roasting .

One of the most positive and redeeming features of this Smarteats package, was the fact that, there were no artificial flavorings or colors used. No preservatives of any kind. Local seasonal and dried fruit used for flavouring and nutritional value enhancement. Some of these snack pieces are individually wrapped  and they promise to stay good for a month.  Good natural fats , such as those in coconut used in conjunction with other substances that enhance their digestion .

The packets are often resealable  so as to keep things fresh.   Each packet lists nutritional information  for the snack.

On a personal note, I love the taste of ginger and ajwain. I would so love it if they came up with some kind of baked/roasted chip like stuff with a tongue tickling ginger taste; possibly to be eaten with a dollop of curds.  Or a namkeen biscotti (if such a thing is possible) with ajwain.

For those who are staying far away from their folks, and have no time to sit and make these things, the Smarteats folks have a scheme where they will mail you a box of assorted snacks , that change every month, for Rs  399/-  , and free shipping.  This is kind of ideal for situations where you are going to be away a lot, and want the family to enjoy a variety of healthy sweets and namkeens,  and dont want them to gorge at the neighborhood chat and samosawalla every now and then.

For the sweet stuff, you might have to develop a taste.  This stuff is mildly sweet .

And excellent.

Try it.

P. S.  My late parents were very nutritionally aware folks, and always spoke about the white poisons (white refined flour, white sugar), valueless calories, and the need to incorporate the natural tastes of fruit etc into our snacks. They would have been delighted to see Sangeeta Khanna's efforts. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rishis, GhasPhoos, and Immunities.....


adjective \i-ˈmyün\
: not capable of being affected by a disease
: not influenced or affected by something
: having special protection from something that is required for most people by law

All my life , i have been aware of the two meanings that are associated with the word "immune".

One , a very positive meaning having to do with your state of health.

And two; the other having to do with some folks being treated as special , possibly in a shameless way connected with power. 

While one only has to read the newspaper and watch television to see folks in the shameless category,  I have had the good fortune to be a participant and observer of the first category , almost all my life,  .

Not having lived your early life in the Internet age has its advantages. There was no ad bombardment, misguided statements on television, or  shelves full of things in supermarkets to boggle your mind. And parents in those days, depended a lot on knowledge that was handed down to them through their parents and elders. This was basically about treating food as your medicine, and enjoying it. It was also about not overdoing things. 

It was clear, that the children were the wealth of the nation, and in order that the nation prosper, it was essential that this wealth be nurtured properly keeping in my mind long term usage, and never, short term thrills.

My mother certainly didn't know what endorphins were. Neither did she agonize over glycemic index etc. All she knew , was that exercise was religion. You had to exercise to earn your breakfast.  So suryanamaskars , jumps,  were sometimes substituted with yogaasanas with my father, and sometimes with even a running climb of the Parvati hill temple near our house in Pune. And she had a firm belief that niggling things like coughs , colds, and minor digestive upsets were really about the body engine not running efficiently for lack of decent and correct fuel, and the inability to throw out waste products as exhaust.  Nothing that a decent sweat after a good exercise session couldn't cure. Between you and me, it actually works.

 Fresh hot simple food.  Full creme buffalo milk, good curds, daily fresh buttermilk churned by hand , and fresh white butter. Jowar bhakris at night straight off the griddle. Green leafy veggies eaten by us, unhappily. (We never dared refuse). Sprouts cooked in various ways. Seasonal vegetables having priority.  Festival foods remained festival foods, to be enjoyed on those days.  Hand pounded rice  (the garage had one of those pounding pits), and those days Khadi Emporium would sell  us hand pound rice .  Going to buy fruits in the main market was a weekly thing.  The crux of everything was there was no overdoing of anything. When we had the usual schoolkid's health problems, there was nothing that an infusion of tulsi couldnt solve, or some amazing things like Sitofaladi for coughs, which tasted brilliant with honey;  winter mornings would see a small bowl of pellets of a great mixture of dry ginger,turmeric, ghee and jaggery  nicely mixed, and we would have them along with our hot milk. Bread was totally persona non grata,  unless it was accompanied by a freshly stone ground chutney, and slices of vegetables between the bread pieces.

Somewhere ,  there was a belief, that a good sweaty out pouring  after a decent amount of exercise, would actually  solve a lot of  health issues. I remember running back down the Parvati hill temple as a child,  automatically deep breathing and suddenly getting my systems cleared of all the phlegm. Many decades later, a  daughter who would get frequent coughs and colds, joined an early morning fitness class as a coughing child,and it disappeared a few days later, enabling her to join a swimming beginners class, after which she has never looked back.

One of the things my mother heard about, was Chyawanpraash. 

My mother made Chyawanprash at home, from first principles. We used to know at one time so many of the names of the almost 40 herbs that went into the making along with amlas in season. Not just any amlas, but dongri amlas.  The recipe , courtesy one of my mothers's vaidya-doctor-best-friends.  Slow cooking, and the final product was amazing.  Those were not days of intense competition amongst companies, one tended to actually believe in stuff one personally supervised,  and there was often a feeling that commercial Chyawanprash had a predominantly sugary taste.  In those heady days of the 60's, we never bought commercial Chyawanprash

If Dabur were me, they would agree.

Chyawan Rishi was supposed to have invented , and prepared this and regained his youth.  I am sure that was not the main intention of Chyawanprash, and Chyawan Rishi very smartly used it as a marketing ploy, hitherto unmatched in the annals of advertising. 

But behind it all was an entire spectrum of herbs, designed to strengthen your power of facing all kinds of childhood and other diseases/health upsets. In short, building up your immunity.   

Amla, the magic fruit, with loads of Vitamin C, with a built-in preventive for its oxidation in our bodies; You name it, and the fruit has a solution: lowering cholesterol, inhibiting clumping of platelets, excellent for liver function, cleansing digestive tracts, anti ageing, eyesight , strengthening teeth and bones etc. Ashwagandha for helping you manage stresses, Pippali, for respiratory upsets so common amongst schoolkids ; Kesar, for energy and glowing skin; Guduchi, for strength, and toughening up the nerves ; Karkatshringi, which I remember being used for tough sounding coughs and seasonal colds; Bala Vidarikand for energy , and Shatavarikalp (more about this later) for mental sharpness, stamina, and improving eyesight. 

There were so many other herbs , and one may give an overall total list them here .  Bidrikand, Safed Chandan, Vasaka, Akarkara, Shatavari, Brahmi, Bilva, Choti Harr (Haritaki), Kamal Kesar, Jatamansi, Gokhru, Bel, Kachoor, Nagarmotha, Laung, Pushkarmoola, Kakadsinghi, Dashamoola, Jiwanti, Punarnava, Anjeer, Ashwagandha, Giloya, Tulsi leaves (Basil), Meetha Neem, Saunth, Munakka, Mulethi.  All boiled in a container of water where the amlas were tied in a cloth and dipped in to cook, and absorb the goodness of the herbs. The amlas would turn blackish having cooked and imbibed the herbs, and they were then deseeded and made into a smooth mixture, by pressing the pulp , via a fine white cloth, a procedure my mother used to call "vastragaaL" (वस्त्रगाळ ). The rich herb water was kept for later use, the sugar and other things, certain spices, honey, etc were ground and added. I don't remember too many details, but the whole thing resulted in an amazing Chyawanprash.

The immunity given by this amazing concoction doesnt just cater to physical immunity.  It gives you strength of mind, ability to withstand and tolerate trouble, manage stresses (which includes temper). So many times, a mental upset leads to a physical affliction . This is wellknown, and we have what are called as psychosomatic disorders. Very clearly, a regular measured imbibing of something like Chyawanprash, will, at the end of the day , idiomatically speaking, give you the power to face life , as we know it today.

Today's children face inordinate food additives, air pollution, water pollution,  antibiotic resistance, and newer and newer infections.  Today's parents, are working parents, who have little time for their children, and whatever little they have is spent in kowtowing to the wishes of the kids.  In our time , we had to finish what was served in our lunch plates, regardless of whether the sabji was a hot favourite or not.  Today , you hear indulgent women shake their heads and say things like " My family must have Coca Cola when I make Pav bhaji; they cant do without it" or " They wont eat this unless I fry it in butter " or " My family insists on red meat 3 times a week, they call rest of the vegetables in the meal,  ghaas phoos" .

This is a recipe for messing up the health of the nation's wealth.

And so , Dabur Chyawanprash, with its specially selected herbs, and readymade set of solutions, is a godsend for such parents who are pressed for time (and are not blessed with Mom's who make great Chyawanprash).  Ready to eat, as the current marketing phrase says and full of the goodness of the herbs mentioned above.

(I do have issues with introducing orange and assorted flavors in Chyawanprash. I am sure Chyawan Rishi did not foresee that.   There is something about  teaching folks to appreciate the original. We learned, and I am sure today's kids will surely learn.)  

Chyawanprash is not the sole magic potion for them. It has to be complemented, by a  decent sensible nutritious diet, plenty of exercise.

It is amazing what little kids enjoy .  Chyawanprash tastes wonderful not just when you lick spoonfulls.  It tastes great as a  roll when slathered on a chapati  , sometimes with honey too.  Shatavarikalpa  was something I have used even as a grown up and as a mother, and at one time my kids took great delight in eating shatavari kalpa chapati rolls with a bit of ghee and jaggery. Sitofaladi , always given in coughs, has been another hot favourite.   So many roasted seed chutneys taste amazing today on salads and even toast.  Eaten in decent moderation, this is an amazing way to build up immunity in children. 

 Most ayurvedic herbs, have multiple uses for us.  While ayurveda is all about providing excellent combustion facilities, with enlightened fuel for the machine that our body is,it is also about figuring out that there is some exhaust that needs to be thrown out, and  teaching/encouraging  the body to do so. 

Immunity , of the type described first is what we aspire for.  The ability to withstand disease , and if at all one falls prey to it, then the ability to emerge out of it with minimum collateral damage.

Immunity as described in the second meaning is what happens we are not up to the mark, and someone has to make special provisions for us. Excuse us from all kinds of things, possibly as a quid pro quid. It isnt something that encourages honesty .

I do so wish, there was a special Chyawanprash for the second type .......         

Submitted as an entry for the Indiblogger-Dabur " An Immune India "  contest

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Life, be not proud ......

For decades together, I always thought , being alive was the default, and you only needed a certificate to prove you were dead. 

No longer so.  Has not been so, apparently for donkey's years.

Having taken voluntary retirement 9 years ago,   I am required  to certify  my "alive" status every six months, to those that generously beqeath a pension to me.

It is called a "Life Certificate".

One goes to the office, asks for the forms, and one is pointed to an area where they lie  tied up in a greatly ignored heaped splendour.  You enter your details, and get it signed by a person of approved seniority. I mean you are there in flesh and blood, walking, talking, in your senses, and so on,  but the 5 folks amidst whose desks you wander cannot certify that you are alive.  

And so ,I walk into  an office cabin, where someone with the appropriate seniority sits,  hold up the sheet, and  smile and say " Certificate that I am alive!" .   The needful is done amidst much smiling, the paper returned to another heap, and I am done for another six months.

Some people must do this at banks, where their pension is deposited, since they stay possibly in another city away from their erstwhile working places.

There is a nationalized bank branch in Pune, where my late father had his pension account. This particular branch was like a pensioners' haven  in the first few days of each month, with various folks, some shuffling with canes, some hard of hearing, some with failing eyesights, and some fit enough to shame obese young bikers, would congregate.

Whenever the staff had to guide someone about something regarding paperwork/signatures et al, they had to speak in a loud voice since so many had hearing problems, and they would  then themselves answer back in a loud ringing voice, to the immense amusement of other customers of the bank.  I handled my father's things in his last few months,  and one of the staff even cribbed  and said how stubborn these folks are and how they refuse to listen to things; how they fire the bank for not showing their deposits and simply forget that they had already withdrawn something; and how they simply nod and wave their hands when reminded about adding a nomination to their account .

 But it was nice to see the younger staff going around attending to the Ajobas , Ajis and Kakas, and being patiently respectful with them.   

Turns out that if your pension account has accumulated  without withdrawls for , say 3 months, the bank investigates why. After a while the amount gets credited to the nation's treasury.  I am talking about the situation alomost 9 years ago. Rules might have changed.

I was asked to see the manager. My father was bedridden but alert, and I was advised that one could ask for bank staff to come home , and have a withdrawl slip signed/thumbprint taken, and duly certified and stamped by the bank staff.  You provided transport to the bank people. So I wrote in an application, and was asked to come to the bank in the afternoon  to escort the staff to our home.

I arrive in  an autorickshaw.  I am surprised to see a manager type getting ready to accompany me  to our house, 5 minutes away by vehicle.

My father is happy to see the bank come to him, and goes through the various signing/thumbprint stuff. His hand shakes and his signature might not match.  The bank certifies.

We get up, and get ready to leave. The aforementioned staff looks around the house as we reach the front door.  As we turn on to the last set of steps leading down to the ground  floor, he looks at me and says , "Have you thought about renting this place ? The bank would be interested  for its officers ..."

I try to control my temper.  I must escort him back to the bank, where the documents he carries will reflect that a withdrawl was effected , indicating movement in the pension account.

And then , I look up at him, and look him in the eye, and say , "You know , my father  lives here......."     

Yes. It is complicated.

This effort of proving that one is alive.   In a blatant thoughtless world , where death is the default.  Death of empathy, understanding and good sense.  

P. S.  The bank just lost two accounts of mine.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Name Game....

Our attitudes towards names, is , to say the least,  intriguing and even confusing.

It is even a function of time.  In personal and public spaces.

In Maharashtra, in the personal space, we all bear complete names made up of our given name, then father's name and then surname/last name.  After marriage , the father's name and last name gets replaced by the husband's name and last name.  When i first ventured into what was IT 40 years ago, and did programming, I always thought that this system , with appropriate linkages, would display amazing family trees and the evolution of various families. I knew it was not  that simple, but possible.

Then women started keeping their maiden names and just appending the husband's last name, sometimes with a hyphen, and sometimes without. That too made sense. It may have raised a few eyebrows.  But it also elicited a few hurrahs.

Legally, it is not necessary for anyone to change names.  X and Y can be married to each other and still keep their names.  But its bothers folks with attitude, in places like government registration offices,  passport offices , ration card offices and so on and they often complicate matters by insisting on extra odd paperwork.

In public spaces, things go pretty much haywire.  Changing names in public spaces , is steeped in political patronage, vote mongering , and money.

While scant attention is paid in Mumbai , to arterial roads being constructed, and the subsequent rehabilitation of displaced folks and commercial entities, those on the fringes of power often get agitated over the naming of these places. Chhatrapati Shivaji, the various Gandhis, and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar are almost always the leading choices.  Sometimes, local and state leaders manage to  win , but it is always more about satisfying a vote bank rather than honoring the departed great soul.

Despite the massive renaming of roads and squares , as is evident from the destination boards on Mumbai's iconic BEST buses,  people still refer to the various roads, by their original names.  I doubt if folks know the new names of Pedder Road, (Gopalrao Deshmukh Marg) ,  or Marine Drive  (Netaji Subhash Chadra Marg) , or Nagar Chowk (Boribunder).  Such is the desperation to  rename  roads that towards the end of the last century, the Municipal Corporation had actually renamed 2500 roads and squares in a 3 year period. While the government passed a rule allowing renaming of places that carried names of pre independence British rulers in 1950,  today there is a renaming spree happening.   The famous Laburnum road in Gamdevi was in danger of being renamed, as someone thought it was a British Officer's name, till someone pointed out at the eleventh hour, that it was named after the profuse laburnum trees that made the road special. There was a Ropewalk lane in Fort, named so because in earlier days, ropes were supplied to the ships in the dock (by the Fort Officials) , and the rope makers would use this lane to stretch the jute fibres.  Today this piece of urban history has been celestially wiped out; the road is now known as Saibaba Lane.                 

The sad part is when names are changed due to money power.

Long ago in my childhood in Pune, there were a bunch of very well regarded schools for both girls and boys, in various localities named after a person called Bhave. I had friends who attended these schools, I had relatives who taught there for years. My late mother once told me that the Mr Bhave after whom these schools were named, was a very dedicated, hardworking, not very financially well off teacher,  who brought up these institutions from scratch.

Sometime in the last few decades of the last century, there was a donation to those schools,  from a very well known industrialist family in memory of the family matriarch.  The old man was relinquished to history, and all the schools were now renamed after the matriarch of the donor family.   A lot of us were saddened by this. But i guess this was a sign of the times to come.

Today, almost all naming of public places has immense political overtones, deals, quid-pro-quids , rather than a sense of gratitude.  

There has always been something in the news about renaming universities.   Nothing much is said or publicised about the infrastructural facilities, the standards, etc at these universities.  Most such renamings are politically motivated.  

The latest is about renaming Pune University after the late Savitribai Phule, who  besides being a freedom fighter, was instrumental in ensuring and making possible, education for women. While I have the greatest respect for Dynaanjyoti Savitribai Phule, I have always felt, that instead of just renaming, it would make more sense, if the government offered funds, and prime land,  for a state of the art  Women's University named after her.  This would necessarily include, besides various colleges and disciplines,  schools for girls in rural areas, with free education and mentoring. Such a University would have the freedom to grow according to its needs, and not within the rules incumbent on an old university.

Unfortunately,  we live in times where everyone wants quick returns.  Votes, prestige, social standing, and many times, revenue.

I wonder why we do not rename jails . The Arthur Rd jail in Mumbai, presumably named after a Britisher, could be renamed . So could Tihar Jail in New Delhi. All have seen star prisoners. There are even other regional jails  in various states, where powerful types are currently domiciled.  But this is a catch 22 situation.  As a politician , you may be at the forefront naming the jail, after its distinguished resident(s) , only to be in a scam later and inhabit it yourself.

I wonder why we do not name the numerous flyovers that we desperately construct.   It would shame those who participate in shoddy constructions  in connivance with unnamed others,  once the potholes, and breakdowns start happening.

I wonder why we do not name the huge official municipal garbage dumps after people.

I wonder how the recently opened Eastern Freeway offering a fast North South connection on Mumbai's eastern seaboard, has escaped a naming controversy ? On second thoughts, has it ?  

But then I think back to the various small local temples,  that dot the original city of Pune, the city of my childhood.  They bear names like Khunyaa (Murderer) Murlidhar , Patryaa (leaf-like) Maruti, ChimNyaa (tiny ) Ganpati, Sonya MarutiHatti (elephant)Ganpati., Garud (eagle) Ganpati, Jilbyaa (fond of jilebis, a sweet food item) Maruti; all names indicating some kind of backslapping familiarity of the locals, vis-a-vis these gods. None of these names, are respectful; on the other hand the names are indulgent.  I wouldn't be too thrilled to be referred to as Khunyaa (murderer).

 The dedication to the Gods continues  regardless of these indulgent , often shocking names.   No one has ever tried to change these names, and no builder has ever dared to rehabilitate these small temples , which are now in the prime city area.

I wonder why .