Kapoors Year 1: India/S.E. Asia travel blog

Parth Pabaru

I Think He Has The Mehra Forehead

Parth and Some of His Extended Family



I waited to post this entry until Deven sent me some photos of the new baby, but I was told that he is not inclined to email pictures around generally, so I won't hold back any more.

Manju left Nagpur on the morning of Dec 31st because her daughter Kajal was scheduled for a caesarian on Jan 2nd. This meant she was not with us for New Year's but it worked out for the best in the end. Manju called us on the morning of Jan 1st to say that Kajal was being admitted to the hospital because her blood pressure was fluctuating. We spent the whole day waiting for news when at last we got a call just after 9:00 pm that a baby boy had made his entrance to the world. We were so excited - it was great to be with Kamal and see his reaction. He said he was so happy not to be on his own like he was when his first grandson was born eight years ago in Michigan.

I want to take a moment to tell you a little about how Indians use family titles when addressing each other or referring to another member of the family. Each and every relationship has its own title and these are always used in place of names when a younger person addresses someone older. Children are taught these titles as soon as they are able to speak and often don't even know the first names of senior family members until they are much, much older. I was pleased to see little Ashna Mehra refer to her brother, Ankit as "Bhaiya" whenever she spoke to him. As the children grow and meet all the people in their extended family, they learn the appropriate title for that relationship.

I had the disadvantage of not knowing any of these titles when Anil and I married, and had to learn them fast. It was not appropriate for me to address an older relative by name. I am sure that people would have understood, but it would have hampered us developing a close relationship as quickly as we did. The titles are different depending on whether the person is related through the father's or mother's side and then they are different for blood relatives as opposed to people who have married into the family. Now that I am familiar with many of the titles, I find that I am able to speak about my family in Canada using these titles and everyone knows the relationship I have with the relative.

I mention this because Kamal and Manju have been Dada and Dadi for some time now to the children of their son Kapil and his wife Ishani. With the birth of a first baby to their daughter Kajal and her husband Deven, they have now become Nana and Nani. Gaining this title is almost as exciting for Kamal and Manju as becoming grandparents for the very first time - they are both over the moon.

Now to the name of the baby! The next morning when Kamal had finished talking to Manju, I asked him if they had decided on a name for the baby. He said yes, but when I pressed him to tell me, he scratched his head and said he had forgotten it. Men! I learned later that evening that the baby was to be named "Parth". This is a name I had never heard before but was told that it's another name for Arjun, a Hindu god. It seems like such a grown-up name for such a tiny baby, but they will no doubt give him a pet name until he is older. Pet names are very popular in India, sometimes it is months or years before a baby is given a formal name. Many people wait to see the personality develop before choosing just the right name for life.

We had a great laugh over pet names of Kapil's friends in Nagpur. Until recently, I have always referred to Kapil by his pet name "Bunty". The nephew, whose wedding we attended in Lonavla, was always called "Monty", his real name in Puneet. Confusion reigned for Anil and I when "Bunty's" old school friends in Nagpur were referred to as "Hubloo", Bubloo" and "Puploo". I never did get them all straight but we still have a laugh when we hear about these three musketeers. Let's hope that if Parth is given a pet name, it isn't one of these. Check this entry later, if you see a camera icon beside it, it means that I have posted some photos of the wee Parth.

In case you are interested, I will list a few of the family relationship names below:

Dada - grandfather on father's side

Dadi - grandmother on father's side

Nana - grandfather on mother's side

Nani - grandmother on mother's side

Chacha - father's brother (his wife is Chachi)

Bua - father's sister (her husband is Phupar)

Mama - mother's brother (his wife is Mami)

Masi - mother's sister (her husband is Masar)

Bhaisahib - your older brother

Bhaiya - your other brother

Didi - your sister

There are a lot more names but this is just a sample. When I tell people in India that Audrey Hawn is my Masi, they all know that she is my mother's sister. This is a whole lot more informative than if I had just said that she is my Aunt. Aunt and Uncle probably are the western titles that provide the least family information of all.


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