V. Candid Verses: Romancing with Exotic Nepali Names!
A global hysteria has gripped the Nepali communities of late. A quick survey of the new-born of all my friends, family, and relatives in Facebook makes me wonder: Where the hell do they come up with these exotic names? Is there a prize for coming up with such names? What happened to the good, old names like "Ram"?
"That's so Pakhey" exclaims my cousin and is desperate for a "unique" Nepali name for her baby boy.
"Ram, (also pronounced Ryam) is a male sheep, is the most apt name for any Nepali boy today and its getting very exotic" I mock her.
She gets defensive immediately and explains how she's fearful of her child losing the Nepali culture and identity. Ah! So this is all to save our identity. Then it can't be limited to the name, can it? Certainly not!
The houses of any Nepali in a foreign land have these tell-tale signs: walls and space decorated with musical instruments like Sarangi, Flute, Madal along with Singing Bowls, Buddha Statues, Thangkas, and other "authentic" Nepali items. Interestingly, I don't know a single person that plays these instruments, let alone strives to learn it. Nor does anyone really know the history, significance or the symbolism behind these objects. Yet, by showing off these items, we've preserved our culture (Maybe the culture of showing off)!
The older generations that have emigrated are worse: Forget tolerance, they incite racism/castism very early in children by segregating them in the name of preserving one's ethnicity. They preach about outdated beliefs and taboos many of which are relayed through Mahabharat & Ramayan (hindi serials mind you); Forget embracing, they consider mingling with Black/Hispanic kids a blasphemy (somehow whites are the lesser evils in this situation). Then they have the audacity to gloat about their superior nurturing practice among their friends in their so-called cultural gatherings, while shouting orders to their wives.
Yo Rams (to be pronounced “Ryams”): If you're serious about teaching Nepali culture to your kids-- send them back to Nepal. Let them explore our culture through their lens; let them grow up in our broken political and economic system. Admit them to school where they get education the Nepali way (beating, bullying, and bandhs); let them build their immune system by breathing the KTM air. If not, please make their lives easier. Don't kid yourself by giving those unpronounceable names and exerting inane beliefs & rituals,
My cousin called me a few weeks later and told me she'd settled on a name. She said that she'd mulled on what I'd said. "After all, I realized when they turn 18, they are going to go away and he'll always be an Aussie. I can't beat the “Nepali” into him" She lamented. I empathized and sympathized with her.
"AJ..Not AJAY is his name" She went on, "It’s a very exotic name here in Australia." She told me how she'd already got 52 likes in FB. Then a panic seized me. I tried to imagine my Nepali cousin named "AJ" The more I tried, those vivid freshman days in college began dancing in my mind. And my roommate AJ: 6' 3" that slept all morning, smoked pot all day, and rapped all night.
Hopefully, my cousin, AJ, will turn out to be a bit different even if he can't keep up with the Nepali culture.
Disclaimer: The views above are strictly my opinion and by no means be taken as a measuring stick reflective of Nepali Communities.