28 March, 2008


What’s there in a name?
You don’t choose your parents so also your name. Usually mother’s have an upper hand in choosing the name of the new born. It was not after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnasser that I was named.
The Wikipedia says, “Nebu is the Egyptian symbol of gold. It depicts a golden collar with the ends hanging off of the sides and seven spines dangling from the middle”. I am sure my mother never knew it then as well as now. The fact is that I grew up disliking my own name and even considered officially changing it.
When VSNL queried me for a user name I opted for nebu@vsnl.com. But to my dismay it was already taken. On the spur of the moment I send a mail to
nebu@vsnl.com saying that I too am a Nebu. Prompt was the reply from a dermatologist.
That it was a doctor of medicine aroused my curiosity. I knew from my mother that the original Nebu, her friend’s brother was a Doctor. It was his turn to be baffled reading my next mail asking him whether he was so and so. He thought it was one of his friends pulling his leg.
He was astonished when I narrated the story that I was named after him. After a few mails to and fro, it had to happen sooner or later, we arranged to meet. I took my mom for the first time to meet the person after whom she named her first born; it had been 45 years.
Her old friend had passed away a couple of years ago. The tragedy was compounded when her daughter too passed away embracing the mother’s dead body.


Lost Rome for a Lira
The ten hour flight from Bombay landed at the Leonardo da Vinci international airport Rome on a chilly afternoon. As an amateur traveller wearing inadequate attire the cold was biting.
Twenty four years ago it was the start of my solo two month trip to Europe. Not finding the familiar face of my uncle who was the first secretary in the Indian Embassy to greet me, I started to feel anxious.
There was only one other passenger who had boarded from Bombay and travelled all the way to Rome. The others had either disembarked or joined from Kuwait. Ricardo was on his way back to his home in Milan after visiting India. I narrated my predicament and he guided me with the formalities.
The bus from the airport dropped us at Roma Termini (train station). The Indian Embassy on Via Venti Settembre was only a short distance from the station. The embassy staff told me that the first secretary and his family had left for Paris before my telex reached informing about my advanced arrival. He would return only after a couple of days.
Ricardo helped me find a hotel to stay for the night in Pizza Barberini at the centre of which is the famous Triton’s fountain. He left after inviting me to his home in Milan; which I did after a few days.
The next day I went to see the famous Trevi fountain. Legend has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water over your shoulder with your back to the fountain. Having seen Rome, I saved the change. Now I wish for another visit but somehow or the other it doesn’t happen. I realise a Lira saved is Rome lost eternally.