Disrespects in a Sea of Disregards

Usually, on Fridays I write my “Six Things I Learned This Week” column. Given that I didn’t learn anything particularly interesting over the past several days, it is a regular day here at the blog, my friends. I’ll be good and try to learn some fun facts over the weekend… maybe I’ll write that column on Monday. We will see.

So let’s talk about the weather shall we? In DC, it will probably snow on Saturday. I am quite bitter that winter came so quickly.  When the seasons change, I’m always good and promptly march down to get a flu shot.  Then I get the flu. (I never learn…)   Once I recover, I’m down for the count.  I become a hermit for the winter… actually, ALL of the Disrespect women hate the cold.   So when it starts getting cold, I start thinking about my family.  I will see them in less than a month for T-giving ya’ll… All five of us crazy kids will be under one roof.  It’s bananas I tell ya!

To begin the holiday/family spirit, the Hindu holiday Diwali just past us by…   (Did I do anything???  Sadly, no.  I went to my Wednesday evening class, stopped by a bakery and got some pumpkin bread to go… and celebrated at home by myself.)

Night of Diwali 2011, courtesy of NASA. Kinda cool, eh?

Hindus celebrate Diwali every year around mid-October to mid-November… the day changes every year.  Why?

The western calendar is based on the earth’s rotation around the sun.  (12 months, 365 days a year)  Well, just to be different, our calendar, called the Vikram Sambat, is based on the SUN and the MOON!  It uses a solar year but divides it into 12 lunar months.  A lunar month is just over 29 days.  Therefore, the Indian year is precisely 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 36 seconds long.  So to help the lunar months coincide with the solar year, every 60 months, an extra month is added… a leap month, if you will.   (You can start feeling bad for those kids whose birthday month falls every FIVE years(!))    Therefore, when you follow the phases of the moon for your calendar, the dates of holidays/birthdays/special occasions change every year.   We will get back to this point in a minute.

Back to the family.  When my parents immigrated to the US in the 1970s, in traditional INS fashion, they assigned my Mom and Dad different birthdays.  So my parents now have their “real” birthday and their “official” birthday.  My Mom is lucky as her official birthday falls six months after her real one… she gets a real “half birthday.”  (But her good feelings are tempered because the INS made her two years older than she actually is… actually, I don’t see that as a negative.  She can start collecting Social Security two year early, I say.)  My Dad though, never knew when his birthday was until recently.  (He was born in a poor village in India.  In 194x, pesky things like birth certificates weren’t handed out like candy.  Likely, his mother’s doctor was illiterate.)   So we always celebrated his birthday… well, on his assigned birthday.  FINALLY, a few years ago, somebody told my Dad when he was born… but it was in the Vikram Sambat calendar!  It took me a good year, but finally, I was able to locate the Indian Calendar from 194x online, and ascertain his actual birthday… it’s sometime in late September.  Well, that’s great, but the family keeps forgetting his “real” birthday anyway… so we will continue to commemorate his fake one instead.

Oh, and when my Dad decided to submit his paperwork to the INS in India… he changed his entire name also.  First and last name.  Why?  The rumor is, his brother renamed him after a movie star.  Or because the name sounded cool.  I dunno.  Now, anyone who is not a member of my extended family is immediately confused.  For, we are the only five people in our entire extended family named “Disrespect.”   Everybody else is a “Disregard…”  Now, Disrespect and Disregard means exactly the same thing.  (In Hindi, anyway…), but the White folk still don’t get it.  I am always asked if my dad was adopted.  (I can safely say no… all of the Disregard/Disrespect men look exactly the same.  Seriously.  Now, I question sometimes if I was adopted into my family, but that’s another blog post entirely…)  My parents even tried to give my brother our “proper” last name on his birth certificate… but everybody thought he was adopted too.  So bro’s official docs were changed as well.  It’s a Disrespect family pattern, methinks… For me, I like my last name; I was always a Disrespect, and will probably always remain a Disrespect, marriage or no.  It’s a great story.  Why mess with it???  I like being different.

(For the record, my dad once told me his real “first name,” but I promptly forgot it.  You see, I still call him “Dad…”  )

But I am still bitter that it’s cold at the end of October.  (Where did Fall go this year?)  And I’m suddenly startled because I have to start thinking about travel, Christmas presents and family stuff.  Oy.  Where DID the year go?


About No Disrespect

A little schmuck in a big world
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