Thursday, March 28, 2013














I'M NICKNAME GUY. If I like you, I'll create a moniker, often involving extra E's, mashing a few words together, or truncating your first or last name into a sliver of its former self. I constantly Brangelina couple's names to save time and sometimes just call people by their first initial. My friend Sandi is usually just "S" and she has been since high school. It's rare that I use your given name. Jeff and I do not call each other by our names, and if we do, we might be sore with each other, or we're avoiding the embarrassment of shouting "Sweetie!" in the hardware store

Names in Bali are an interesting topic. In the Balinese Hindu culture there is a very clear naming convention that goes like this:

The first born is named one of the following: Wayan, Putu, Gede, or (for girls only) Ni Luh
Second: Made, Kadek, or Nengah
Third: Nyoman or Komang
Fourth: Ketut, often shortened to Tut.

If there's a fifth child in the family, they start again, except they add "Balik" (ie. Wayan Balik) which means again. As in, Oh shit, here's Wayan again. And forget about a sixth and seventh - That just gets mad-confusing.

Now, at first blush, this seems kind of cruel and impersonal, to name your beloved children this way. But there's more to it. Nicknames! Jeff got into a long chat with a very sweet young man the other day while we swam at the Cold Springs. He explained, as first born in his family, he was Putu Cerah Berawan. His nickname translates to "Sunny and Cloudy". While the language barrier was thick, I understood that, as a baby, he was very happy or very, very sad, which he'd be reminded of for the rest of his life. I had to wonder if bipolar disorder could be triggered by a nickname. Another man we met was named Kadek Bottle, because he's tall and skinny, like a bottle.

I suppose some nicknames are more poetic than others, but the same can be said for the ones I give the most important people in my life, too.

This is Ni Luh Balik. Again. But if it were up to me, her nickname would be Shirley Temple.

3 comments:

  1. This is so interesting! And now I want to know what you and Jeff call each other. (I'm sure I'm not the only one!)

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  2. Love this post...and yes we're all about the nicknames in our house too! Goose, Violetta Pancetta and Tuckles are our true children.

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  3. Panda approved blogpost

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