Oberlin Blogs

A Ruby By Any Other Name

November 2, 2010

Ruby Saha ’14

I have a love/hate relationship with introductions. I believe strongly in first impressions and their impact on people, so I think it's important to represent myself accurately straight away. It might be shallow of me to say so, but eighty percent of the time, my first impression is my last impression. And I don't think I'm alone in doing so, whether you're willing to admit it or not.

More than anything, though, I don't think we recognize how often we wrap ourselves up in small labels which we think describe us adequately but... kind of don't. The truth is that I really don't think they reveal anything at all beyond the superficial layer of identity that we use to introduce ourselves.

Let me demonstrate. Pretend you've just met me on the street or in class. I'll say, 'Hi, I'm Ruby.' Maybe I'll elaborate and say, 'I'm a freshman in the college,' or even, 'I'm Indian and I live in Singapore.' What have I really told you? You have a name, you can guess my age, you know where I study, you know where I go home during holidays and what my passport is. You don't, however, know that I consider myself to be Bengali, or that I've never lived in India save for a brief six month period; that Robina is actually my real name; or any other of the millions of things that make up who I am as an individual.

But I digress! This is supposed to be an introductory post and I'm not doing a very good job of it so far. You'll obviously learn a lot about me just by reading my blog, but I really wanted to try to reveal things about myself that go deeper than just what my name is or how old I am. I'm going for an introduction that scratches beneath the surface of that protective layer of identification and gives you more of a sense of what makes me tick... without risking identity theft, hopefully. So without further ado, here goes!







































  • My 'real' name is Robina. At least, that's what's on my passport. In fact, you'll never find Ruby on any official documentation. In Bengal, where most of me comes from, we have a tradition of having a bhalonam (literally, a 'good name') by which you are formally referred to like in school and on official papers, and a daknam (your 'called name', or the name which people call you by) which friends and family call you by.
  • My daknam is, of course, Ruby. Don't make the mistake of thinking my first name is Rubina and that Ruby is the short form of it. The two names are actually completely unrelated.
  • My brother's daknam in Bengali means 'ruby'.
  • Apparently, I have a wet nose like a dog. I refuse to believe this.
  • I also apparently say 'artistic' like 'autistic' because of my so-called 'accent', which creates problems in social situations.
  • Another thing that creates problems in social situations is my not-so-secret penchant for mimicking accents and dialects.
  • Asking me where I come from is a very confusing question, and results in a very confusing answer. You have been warned.
  • I hate tomatoes, but I love sundried tomatoes. This hate has kind of defined my life. If I ever managed to eat one without gagging, I think I'd actually cease to exist altogether.
  • No, I don't say 'pohTAHtoe'.
  • I wanted to be a marine biologist until I realized I'd have to take biology.
  • Same with wanting to be a violinist — I realized I'd actually have to practice.
  • Depending on how you define playing an instrument, I play five: violin, flute, piano, guitar, and voice. Someday I'd like to learn the cello, which is my favourite instrument.
  • I can listen to one song on repeat for weeks until it actually starts sounding different. This has happened several times and never ceases to freak me out.
  • It's hard to find a song I don't like. As long as it's catchy, I'm hooked.
  • I have an aversion to capital letters and would write in all lowercase letters, except for the fact that I'm also a freak about spelling and grammar. My aesthetic side and my Grammar Nazi side don't really get along.
  • I once read the dictionary to see if there was a word starting with the letter 'q' that doesn't have a 'u' following it. I don't consider 'qwerty' to be a word, but I'm old-fashioned that way.
  • One of my favourite things to eat is toast with jam AND bacon.
  • But my absolute favourite thing to eat in the entire world is hot white rice by itself. Ultimate comfort food.
  • I contemplated being vegetarian (or, as my brother calls it, 'vegetablearian') for about five seconds until I realized I love seafood way too much.
  • My Hogwarts letter got lost in the mail.

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