Sometimes you can comment the most horrible cultural faux pas and never know it. Before we left Georgia I received an email from one of our young pastors asking me to name his new baby girl. She was born a couple of days before Christmas. I was assured that if I did this, I would not be held financially responsible for her education and marriage expenses, as is the normal custom of India. I knew that the parents expected a name with some special meaning. So I truly put some thought and prayer into this task. I decided on the name of Starr, so that she may be a shining star for Jesus. Even though I would have liked to name her Sabrina after my granddaughter, I felt that the parents would want a biblical woman’s name too. Loren and I discussed many names, pondering how the name sounded with Starr. We decided that Deborah, the Old Testament woman who became a judge and was well respected, a strong personality, and wise—Then I thought, OH, let’s spell it Debra, an American way!!! So off we go to visit the couple and see the new baby with gift and card in hand. As I held her and said the name I knew that the response to the name was less than enthusiastic.
The next morning the father arrives at Prakash and asks to speak with me privately. He is humbly apologizing even before speaking. As it turns out, the name Debra in Marathi means, as he motions with his hands over his stomach, a pregnant women who is having a baby out of wedlock.
Oh WOW, how embarrassing!!! He wanted to know if I would be offended if they named her Sabrina instead. I laughed out loud and said, “Yes, yes, no way would I encumber a child with a name that had a stigma attached to it. Plus the fact, Sabrina was the name I first wanted.” I asked, “How do you say the woman’s name in the Bible, so that there is no problem with this meaning?” They really emphasize the O in Deborah, but now I understand why I have never heard the name Deborah in our Christian Marathi community
|Today Loren had another experience with words and meanings. Of course, we have a toilet issue again. There has been a smell since we arrived that I kept telling Loren, but he did not smell it sooooooo no action was taken. I saw a cockroach (just a small one) on the floor by the toilet and went to pick it up with a tissue then realized there was about a half inch of water on the floor behind the toilet. Loren identified where the problem was and Devidas; the maintenance person was immediately called. Loren told him to get some “putty” to fill the crack around the drain. Devidas looked as if Loren was insane. Why would Sir want to put a “bandage” around this drain? Why would he not want me to use “pooty” that is filler for cracks? Finally, there was understanding and the crack was filled.
Again, like I have said so often, knowing the right word makes life in India so much easier
Thank you again everyone who has helped us with getting a new generator for Prakash. Loren is working feverishly, to get this project underway. Thankfully, the weather has been unusually cool, so we have not missed the air-conditioner and fans. We can live without lights.