“But sir,” the nervous attendant at the Check-in counter stammered, “I’ve already handed you the Boarding Pass for Ravindar Dugal!”
“That was for Ravindar Dugal. Now give me the Boarding Pass for Ravinder Dugal!”
“Check the spelling” Ravi urged him, nary a trace of exasperation in his voice. He’d been through this before. A zillion times.
But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sikh names, for some strange reason, are gender neutral. So it’s not uncommon to see a neon lit sign in Maler Kotla cheerfully proclaim `Mahinder weds Surinder’, or a garish `Harpreet weds Manpreet’ lighting up the skyline of Kot Kapura.
Or even in Bombay, as in the case of Puja’s in laws, a card being delivered at your doorstep, reading `Ravinder weds Ravindar’!
|Ravindar and Ravinder|
Ravinder weds Ravindar, seriously?? You’d be forgiven for thinking that this guy called Ravinder was really taking narcissism to a new level. But no, if you looked closely, you’d notice a minor glitch in spelling. An `a’ versus an `e’. And, if you read the fine print, there was also the case of a `Singh’ versus a `Kaur’
Of course this only adds to the confusion. Seriously, what on earth were they thinking?
To come back to our case in point. We had just returned from the nuptials of Puja and Sukh at Ananda near Rishikesh, and were trying to check in at Dehra Dun’s Jolly Grant Airport for our flight back to Pune.
So Ravi was being patient. The check in clerk was a meek, mousy little guy, unlike the beefy, no nonsense African-American female at Newark, with whom the Dugals had had a similar altercation. She had almost chucked them into a flight back to Bombay!
Ultimately, the clerk saw the light, and realisation dawned. His eyes, behind their nerdy glasses, actually twinkled! Relieved that he wasn’t on Candid Camera, he notched this incident up as yet another sardarji joke!
And then there are the highly anglicised Sardar nicknames. All Grewals are invariably `Gary’, and anything ranging from a Harminder to a Harpreet to a Harsimran is automatically shortened to a `Harry’.
Check how their conversation goes.
Having exhausted their angrezi, both Harminder and Grewal immediately revert to their roots in Phugwara.
The word `Hor’ in Punjabi is loaded. Punju etiquette dictates that when the first `Hor dasso’ comes up in a conversation, you start looking furtively at your watch. By the second, you raise your collective asses off the couch, and you should actually be well past the door when the third one is uttered.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore this community. Anybody who has spent 30 odd years in the fauj will tell you the same. And now that I have a Sikh samdhi, how can I even afford no to?
But gender neutral names? Seriously?? The confusion is best summed up in the limerick
Harminder wed Sukhjinder in Khartoum
And when they finally retired to their room
They spent that night
In one hell of a fight
As to who should do what and to whom!