A name is a label for a human or animal, thing, place, product and even an idea or concept, normally used to distinguish one from another. – Wikipedia.
Name is the first thing that a baby learns to react to. Babies, even before they learn to speak, or for that matter, even crawl, are able to identify their names and react to it when called.
The other day, I was discussing about names with my friend. We were talking about how people have weird names and what was the weirdest name we have encountered. Somewhere in between, she nonchalantly declared that she will name her kids with names that are quite common and easier to spell and pronounce and would not spin-off to anything goofy or hideous. Now she herself has a name that is the Marathi word for a flower-pot, and the actual noun is really funny when uttered, but I have been forewarned with dire consequences if I mention her name here.
I, myself, have had quite a few problems with my name. Now, I have an Islamic name even though I am a Hindu. I have absolutely no issues with my name being from any community, but it gets on my nerves when people do not comprehend the proper articulation of my name, irrespective of whether it is said on the phone or in person, or for that matter, even spelt out to them by me.
I face many issues when I utter my name to someone and that person is trying to write it down. First and foremost, people do not have the patience to hear the complete pronunciation from me. Then they get the spelling all wrong, and lastly, they themselves give a shot to pronounce their interpretation of my name, eventually making it all a big mess. I even resorted to taking extra pain to explain, like,
“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘N…I…S…H…A…T’; ‘T’ for ‘Train’.”
“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘Nisha’ with a ‘T’.”
“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘Nisha’ with a ‘T’.”
Even after this, most of the times, my name comes across incorrectly. Maximum people get my name as ‘NISHANT’. There is this one friend, V, who for close to two years called me ‘Nishant’ even though she sends me emails regularly. Other common distortions of my name are ‘Vishal’, ‘Nishad’, ‘Nishan’, and once someone even got it as ‘Nisha’, never even once bothering to reflect that it is a female name.
I have had many problems with my name on official documents too.
<--- See the alteration from ‘Nishant’ to ‘Nishat’ on my birth certificate.
The Maharashtra Road Transport Office issues book type of driving license. Recently, they upgraded to the digital I-Card type ones. I have two copies of the book variety and one of the I-Card types. All three of them have different spellings of my name. One got it correct; second one as ‘Nishad’ and the last one as ‘Nishant’.
Check out the goof-up in one of the driving license --->
Such was the outcome even after personally filling out the registrations forms.
My experience with my name in Bangalore was the most remarkable. We are all quite aware of the convention of people from southern parts of India (the area starting below Goa till Kerala) to insert extra ‘H’ in names. Now, they got a little more adventurous and decided to play around with the ‘H’ in my name instead of inserting one. They revolutionized it from ‘Nishat’ to ‘Nisath’. After getting tired of playing with my first name, they resorted to calling me by my surname, which is ‘Parekh’, but they construed it as ‘PORREKH’.
Another aspect of my name being pronounced incorrectly is with certain community. Out of these, the Gujarati community is most notorious for not pronouncing the ‘H’ in any word. So, even though this category of people gets my spelling right, I advertently become ‘Nisat’. On similar lines, a real conversation between a cousin and his mom:
His Mom: (frenziedly) Kusal? Kusal?
Cousin: (annoyingly) Mom, if you wanted to call my ‘Kusal’, why in the God’s name did you name me ‘Kushal’?!
His Mom: ?????
Then there are cases where kids are given weird names whose pronunciation is either difficult or the name would have an intrinsic part to it, or, the name can easily offshoot to something infuriating.
1. I know a person named ‘Tanan’. I always forget how many ‘an’ does his name contain and I eventually end up adding extra ‘an’ to his name and consequently calling him ‘Tanananan’, or something like that.
2. A friend decided to name his kid ‘Jashit’. I warned him that his kid might grow up with a disturbed childhood when kids at school start excluding the ‘Ja’ from his name. He did not heed my warning though and I pray till date that my prediction comes out wrong.
3. A friend’s surname as ‘Abhyankar’ and he is always referred to as ‘Bhayankar’.
I have lost all hope that anyone would ever get my name right the first time I utter it. If I have a cold, the number of times that I have to utter my name in the hopes of getting it across correctly, increases exponentially. I have now ceased to correct anyone who gets my name incorrectly, if there is no official document involved. I simply agree as long as the noun which is blurted rhymes with my actual name. I usually respond to Nishat, Nishant, Nishanth, Nisha, Nishan, Nishad, Nishal, Vishal, Nisat, …..
Your personal experiences with names are welcome in the comments section.