I just call myself Ash now. Simpler and easier to remember. Capiche?
How do people with unusual names feel about it?
While my name is pronounced ‘Ashfaqe’ (اشفاق or अश्फाक), it is spelt as ‘Asfaq’. To my utmost horror at the time, I understood what it meant when I was in the 5th grade.
When asked, my parents told me it meant ‘the brightest star in the sky’!! Thanks to the internet, I now know it means sympathy/compassion. However, that doesn’t stop me from explaining to clueless people that I am the brightest star in the sky 🙂
It is such an uncommon name in India and in the non-urdu/persian speaking world, that most times, it is difficult for people to pronounce my name correctly. I get called Ashpak, Ashwak, Asuk, Ashok and strangely, even Asif. I live with this daily.
I am not upset with anyone. There used to be a time when I was annoyed with my parents for naming me this way. I was annoyed with people who spelt/ pronounced my name incorrectly or would make fun of it.
7 years ago, I decided to make do with however people pronounced my name. It doesn’t bother me at all if you pronounce my name incorrectly even if you have known me for a few years.
When people do decide to make fun of my name, its mostly because they have a reason to do so. I try to figure out this reason (I should really stop watching Criminal Minds, I know). Sometimes, complete strangers will make fun of my name and that is OK too. I believe it shows their emotional intelligence.
The only real downside I have experienced so far is that sometimes, my username – which is usually my name – gets banned from online forums or websites.
The positives are many – having an uncommon name means I get my name as the username on every website. Its also turned out to be a great ice-breaker in a few situations.
However, the real advantage of having a unique name is this – when someone remembers my name, knows how to spell it correctly and pronounces it right, it is a breath of fresh air. That person has my attention for the rest of the conversation and I remember them, clearly, with my visual memory 🙂