I always wanted a 'good' pet name since the time I was very young. A short-form for my long name is just ‘Sha’ which doesn’t make sense or ‘Shaw’ which doesn’t sound right or Punjabi enough either. So what should my pet name be? Once my Czech friend mispronounced my name as ‘Shweti’, and she continues to call me that. Another lawyer friend calls me ‘Shruti’ as that’s what she heard when I introduced myself to her at a restaurant that played loud music, over dinner.
My dad lovingly calls me ‘dabbi-ka-putti-kau’ since ever. This long pet name has no meaning in my reckoning and doesn’t match my official name either. He still calls me ‘dabbi’ though, despite my age because to him, I still am his baby… anyway. Some of my teachers call me ‘Shaaa weta’ as I hurry through JNU corridors just because they are perfectionists and want to pronounce my name the way it is spelt.
Many times, the sounds emanating from my name or inspired by my name slightly ache my ears but I do respond to them because I believe I still am socialized to be convent-school-polite. For one, it’s difficult to completely unlearn everything they teach you at school and secondly, I think it is the intention that counts. So if anyone calls me anything, respectfully, or lovingly, think I can make peace with that.
In a recent you-update-me-I-update-you conversation with my Mumbai-based friend, I naughtily named her ‘Billo Rani’ from the hit Bipasha Basu number because in my understanding, men of our batch still drool over her. It happens to them involuntarily, just the way our vital organs work i.e. without asking. Think my calling her that did boost her ego :), but guess what she ended up naming me in return - Tapusa Singh! She claims profound logic behind the new name. My other Mumbai friend thinks the same too. Think it’s a Mumbai thing rather than what both these women see in me. Let me contextualize my own pet-naming ceremony a little bit :).
After the wedding got over last month, for some of us from the over-enthusiastic, self-proclaimed organizing committee, the exhilaration didn't die down much after we had ordered Thai Chicken in Red Curry dish from Yo!China, immediately after savoring shaadi ke ladoo that had already started going bad. Gluttony is a feeling that can overwhelm the strongest minds at any point if one is not alert.
At that point last month, different types of foods in more-than-adequate quantities ended up getting mish-mashed in my poor stomach. Being used to digesting simple vegetarian food for a long time, my stomach couldn’t tolerate the gastronomic torture unleashed upon it, quicker than it could literally digest.
In retrospect, I do realise that the shaadi-food was only a trigger to regular over-consumption of rice (I am primarily a wheat-eater) and too much caffeine intake through tea, coffee, chocolates and my favorite choco-chip hide-and-seek biscuits since few months. This condition was worsened by unprecedented lethargy leading to a discontinuation of physical exercise, including the gym and morning walks around the JNU ring road.
The pill-for-everything allopathic doctor gave me strong medicines that made me vomit anyway, or feel dizzy and worthless during most of the day. Besides acid reflux (liquid from stomach leaking back into food pipe) and heartburn, what I additionally got were terrible skin rashes every time I took bath. A gentle soul advised me to apply coconut oil which continues to work well for me. My allopathic doctor however handed me cetrizine tablets to cure the medicine reaction. Still have those tablets in my bag in case some day I am not able to tolerate skin irritation in exasperation.
After visiting two allopathic doctors over two weeks who diagnosed my state differently but gave me one common advice about the kind of food to eat, I decided to quit all pills and start a healing-by-food diet. But after having water-porridge cooked over hostel heater for so many weeks, with often tea in between, I realised there is something more wrong than what I was able to comprehend. The skin irritation and eruptions continued all through.
Bless my friend who told me about ‘Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala’ last week. Once there, the doctor consoled me and prescribed me herbal medicine for fourteen days. She diagnosed my condition as ‘aggravated pitta dosha’ that is the imbalance of fire element in the body, which is basically an imbalance of the digestive energies.
According to her, due to prolonged intake of spicy/oily/heavy food or even over-eating, I got excessive heat/pitta in the body, even though it is winter-time. Usually, pitta-dosha occurs during summer months. The one good thing I learnt from this experience was that there are cooling food items like cucumber, cauliflower, beans, peas, sweet apples, coconut, cool badam milk etc. that I should prefer to eat anyway since I do have an intense pitta personality. It is from a description of this pitta personality that my Mumbai friend thought of the name ‘Tapusa Singh’ for me.
In Punjabi, the word ‘tapusi’ means a jump/movement from one place to another. The time I was conversing with my friend, I was walking up and down the house after lunch, making up for the lack of exercise in my life. The moment I called her ‘Billo Rani’ in some context she reverted back by calling me ‘Tapusa Singh’ in another.
Love for movement due to pitta dosha or not, most of my friends seem to agree with my new pet name. Happy that I finally have a ‘good' and meaningful pet name luckily suggested by a really thoughtful academic. Glad I am not called Golo, Pinky, Baby, Guddi, Bubli, Bittu, Babbu, Babbi or Gudia. Have nothing against these names. Just that with any of those names, I’d have to work harder to get taken seriously.