Sunday, 23 June 2013

Coca-Cola: Resurfacing the feelings of exclusion and upset…

I made my own named coke bottle! 

Coca-Cola has branded their bottles with the 150, which apparently is now 250, most popular names in Great Britain. I am sure all the Johns, Sarahs, Gurpreets, Emmanuels, etc out there are having a swell time looking for the bottle with their name on it. Sounds so fun! For me it is not so fun – there isn’t a bottle with my name on it.

For people like me, who have only ever personally come across one other person in their whole 21 years of living with the same name as them, it just causes us to re-experience the feelings of exclusion and upset we had as a child. I was always so jealous of all my friends with their personalised mug or key-ring; they could all find countless products with their name on it. My cousin Tash even had a black headband with her name on it that she wore every day for ages. I didn’t have one. Social exclusion much? These feelings of exclusion and upset have resurfaced by Coca-Cola’s new marketing campaign. They are just not considerate of people with unique names. I can’t search the shelves for hours on end to find a bottle with my name on it like Harry, Amy, Amandeep and Kofi can. I just have to drink a bottle with any old name on it.

There has only ever been one other time in my life were I have found a ready-made product with my name on it. It was a bracelet. I found it at a jewellery stall at Chokhi Dhani (family translation: Crazy Village), Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. I made my dad buy it for me. I was 20. It made me so happy. It filled that gap in my heart from my childhood. I wore it every day, until I lost it. It was a sad day, I had so much love for that bracelet. Perfect example of why people like me have so much more appreciation to give to a coke bottle than Josh, Ben and Rachel have.

So yeah, I don’t like Coca-Cola’s new marketing campaign. But will I change my name? No. Because, although 9/10 people can’t say my name properly and it isn’t on a coke bottle, it is unique. I don’t need the first letter of my surname said after my name so I know people are talking to me (I believe I went to school with a Robyn O). I don’t even need the ‘ita’ in my name. I like to think that I am like BeyoncĂ© and Adele – I don’t need a surname to define me. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Why I can now see Thestrals: An Ode to my Ba…

So, I haven’t actually blogged since I have moved home due to going on Brownie Pack Holiday and what not. My next post was going to be titled ‘The Train Journey to  my Future…’ as I started to write it on my train ride out of the small university town of Aberystwyth, my home for the past three years, and back into the ‘real world’ located inside the M25. Unfortunately, I fell asleep half way through writing the post and it is no longer relevant as a lot has happened since then.

So, instead I am going to write about why I can now see thestrals. Thestrals, for all those who are not fans of Harry Potter, are magical creatures that are invisible to everyone except those who have seen death. I can now see them.

At the start of this month, my Ba (grandma) passed away whilst watching Star Plus (the Indian channel) in my living room. My parents, little sister and I were all present; we can now all see thestrals. It was a traumatic experience. Something that is still quite hard to believe at times, even after seeing her body in the hospital, dressing her in that lovely purple sari and feeling the heat of the furnace on my face before the coffin went in at the crematorium. These are all experiences that people simultaneously don’t want to deal with but probably will at some time in their life.

People say that Ba is in a better place now, which in one way I agree as she is no longer suffering and passed away before things got even worse for her. But on the other hand, I am quite sceptical about the after-life. So where Ba is or is not now will always remain a mystery.

Enough philosophical stuff, because for those who know me, know that I think philosophical stuff only belongs in a healthy but heated debate. So, instead I am going to share some of the wonderful things about Ba – some of which may have been taken from the speech her grandchildren gave at the funeral but I wrote the speech so it isn’t stealing.

Ba was a kind and caring lady, she always put everyone before herself and nothing made her happier than making a home for her family, known as ‘Mota Ghar’ (Direct translation: big house. Shah family translation: the main house of the family). My favourite part of ‘Mota Ghar’ was her ‘Nasta Cupborad’ (snack cupboard) stocked full of ghatiya, chivda, suva dana (various types of Indian snacks) and my personal favourite ‘Ba Biscuits.’ If you had the pleasure to taste them, count yourself lucky.

Ba was also praised on her ability to provide food; some favourites included her homemade popcorn and endless platters of sliced and diced fruit. I will always remember one morning whilst I was staying at ‘Mota Ghar’ in the holidays when Ba told me that we would have spaghetti for dinner. I was looking forward to it as it was a change from the regular dal, bhat, shak, rotli. Dinner time came. I went downstairs and sat at the table. Ba dished up. What did she give me? Spaghetti and dal (lentils)! Not a winning combination. I ate it, though, because if you didn’t finish your food Ba would say ‘matha ma bhushi nakish’ (I will rub it in to your head).  

These memories of Ba I have shared with you seem to have a common theme, food. I love food, so did Ba. And I have most definitely inherited her sweet tooth.

I will finish by sharing with you the most important life lesson I learnt from Ba: ‘Cereal is not just for breakfast!’