Naming our son was stressful but we still managed to find him a name

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Sometime back we named our son, Ritwik. In fact the same day we even booked

Apparently, in US & Europe you have to decide on a name for your kid within two days of their birth. That is it – 2 days. Meanwhile, here in India, twenty five days after Rekha and I had our second child…we were still looking for a name.

In our son’s case we wanted to give him a name which starts with alphabet ‘R’ for that odd day when our family became a family of SuperHeros, we could call ourselves The ‘R’ Family. But our astrologer sought after by Rekha’s parents didn’t quote the alphabet ‘R’. So it was a question of starting a new life on this planet with a bribe – pay the astrologer to get a favorable alphabet. We did exactly that.

The astrologer was able to add ‘R’ in the list of probable alphabets without affecting any of the stars & moons, thanks to a NEFT transfer of Rs 1000/-.

I went thro’ all of this favourable alphabet seeking exercise in spite of being an opponent of the whole naming ceremony before the kid is 10 years old. I remember being pissed at my parents for naming me without consulting me. I think it was 1986 and I was a 11 year old whose name had been disfigured by his classmates.

“Why couldn’t you consult me before naming me?” I had shouted at my parents.

“Son, you were sleeping 22 hours out of 24 hours. How could we consult you?” My father replied.

“How about in those 2 hours?” I insisted.

“Son, even if we had asked you…you would have only replied with a ‘blahbla blahhbaba,’ my father kept a straight face.

“You should be glad we gave you such a nice name – Rajan.” My mother chipped in.

Anyway, as I said I was a reluctant participant in this naming ceremony. I thought I was cheating my son by not giving him an opportunity to decide for himself. As is always the case, nobody listened to me and we went ahead with the naming.

Since the alphabet was decided, we had all and sundry giving us name suggestions – from the fine sounding name ‘Rafat’ to the villain meaning ‘Ruffian’. While we politely refused the suggestions – the challenge of finding the right name hung over us.

To complicate matters, within a week of our son’s birth, celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kayne West had a daughter whom they named her ‘North West’….which unfortunately for us ended up trending on Twitter, globally. Now, we were under pressure to beat this and get a name that would also trend.

My mother had always wanted me to be a doctor and whenever I had asked her why, she had said: “Son, I want them to call you Doctor Rajan.”

So, Rekha and I deliberated on naming our son ‘Doctor’ so that when they combined it with his second name, it ended up become ‘Doctor Rajan’. Now that is how he would have been called and my mother’s wish would have been fulfilled.

We had almost finalized on ‘Doctor’ when I remembered that my father had wanted me to join the Army and become a General so that the World would address me as ‘General Rajan’. For a brief while we even deliberated if we should name our son ‘General’. But it was shot down.

With my two chances gone, my wife decided to chip in with suggestions. Her first suggestion was ‘Fire’….yes, she wanted to name our son Fire. Maybe, because he was born due to a fiery session of sex we had after a late night movie on a Saturday evening – a session that lasted between 11.00-11.10 pm. This is one of the advantages of having a planned sex life for you know the time of conception of your child till the last minute.

But I refused to accept Rekha’s suggestion saying I didn’t want my son to be listening to “Fire Rajan!” every time he turned his face.

During one of these days we had one of Rekha’s friend Shaina Ladiwala visit us.

“Why don’t you name your child 123ABC?” Shaina asked.

Rekha knotted her eyes and shot back, “And why would I want to name him 123ABC?”

“So that everybody can find him easily. On whatsapp if somebody’s name is stored as a number, he/she is visible right on top.” Shaina was convinced that it was a great name but we weren’t.

Many such suggestions poured in from all directions.

It would have been so easy if we had had twins – we could have simply named them Karan & Arjun or Dharam & Veer or Ram & Shyam or Sita & Gita, whatever be the situation. Our son being a single child we had to rely on our own creativity.

Whenever Rekha and I zeroed in on a name, and I gave my mother a feeler about what we were thinking and she would ask: “So, was it suggested by our side or Rekha’s side? ” My mother’s reaction on the name was always based on my answer to her this question.

Similarly, there was intense pressure from Rekha’s side to name our son using the Malayali Name Maker. There is a very convenient Name Maker Table that is available in every Malayali’s house, and all we have to do after giving birth to a child is to pick up one syllable from the first column and a syllable from the second column and combine it to form a name. OK…now try it.

Here are some syllables from the first column:
Jo, Ti, Bi, Si, Vi,

Here are some syllables from the second column:
Nu, By, Bi, Ju, Di, Jul

Now you know why we fought the Malayali Mafia, tooth and nail and didn’t get a name out of this Malayali Name Maker Table.

In spite of all these challenges, we did manage to find a good name for our son – Ritwik. I am very proud of him.

In fact, on many days I stand before my washroom mirror, extend my arm forward and say aloud to myself “Hi Ritwik Rajan here. Nice to meet you” just to visualize how my son will introduce himself to the rest of the World long after we are gone.

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The frog in my father in law’s house

There are eighteen types of people who shouldn`t be reading this article and one of them are: Those who get nightmares in which huge frogs with wet, spotted backs chase them down the street even as they slip on the road while running for safety. OK….enough of the disclaimer.

This article is about a frog that lived in my father in law`s house for three continuous days while we were visiting them for Vishu celebrations. He was my constant companion these three days. I meant the frog, not my father in law. This piece was written sitting in the verandah of my in-laws house. As of today, the house in question wears a desolate look, a stark reminder that it is people that make a home. My father in law passed away a few years back, and now my mother in law lives alone in this house.

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The Story

My wife and I were travelling to Kerala for Vishu. We boarded a Jet Airways flight at Mumbai and reached Calicut. We then took a three hours drive to Kannur in an old Ambassador to reach my father in law`s house.

Before you proceed any further you should go through the map of my father in law`s house.

Blueprint of father in laws house showing the frog
This pic is to give you a fair idea of how my in-laws house was designed and where exactly the frog in question was located.

Notice, that the frog lived in one of the bathrooms. Also, notice that there is a forest zone in my father in law`s house which makes life all the more difficult for a son in law whose only interaction with nature was watching ‘natural` Brooke Shields in the Hollywood movie titled Blue Lagoon many times over.

It all began when we reached ‘Kedaram’, my father in law`s brilliantly named house. Kedaram is a raga in music (or so I am told).

Since I am suffering from what in medical parlance is also known as the King`s Urinary Bladder Syndrome (OK, I made that one up!)….I had to pee like a race horse when we reached home. After dumping my bags on the verandah, I rushed in. My mother in law was blocking the way, ‘Where are you going she asked?”

“If I were going for a cup of tea, would I be so hurried?” I asked.


“How about coffee?”


After 24 such questions, my mother in law guessed that I had to use the loo. That`s when she turned towards my father in law and asked him: “Do you want to tell him now?”

This triggered a pensive look on my father in law`s face. And when that expression didn`t break after three mins, I broke it for him: “Do you mind? I have been holding back diluted urea for the last three hours. What is it guys?”

At this my mother in law intervened and broke the news: “There is a frog in your favourite bathroom!”

“So?” I was indignant. “I can always take a broom and push the guy out. Or maybe pour some water and slip him out of the washroom.”

It was my father who gave me the bad news: “Rajan, we have tried that many times over in the last six months. This guy doesn`t go.”

“What are you saying? Where in the washroom is he?”

“He lives in the water closet.” My mother in law added.

Just in case you were wondering, ‘water closet’ is the white contraption inside your washroom, which is also referred to as the pot, pot seat, throne etc.

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Ever since that fateful day when this frog dude flew in from the window and lodged himself (or herself – I am yet to see the frog`s gender) my in laws house I haven`t used my favourite washroom. Many attempts have been made to retrieve the lost land but to no gain. So much so, the territory occupied by the frog has been codenamed ‘Tiger Hills` so that it doesn`t understand my in law`s plans when they are discussed. Pity actually, for I found a major disconnect in the codename why name it after a hill, when the territory in question is a shallow spot?

For a casual reader, the answer to my predicament seems simple. “Use the other bathroom!” But the answer to this problem isn’t that simple. For the bathroom with the frog wasn’t always my favourite bathroom. It had become my favourite bathroom after a small snake had started living in the water closet of bathroom one.

Now you know why Kerala is God`s own country – because man and animal live as one.