How do people with unusual names feel about it?

I just call myself Ash now. Simpler and easier to remember. Capiche?

I have been meaning to write this post for a while now. Last night, Mehul Ved tagged me in this interesting question on Quora and that was reason enough to begin:

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 🙂


  1. haha, this incident reminds me of the time I added your name to my phone book, and auto correct did something “interesting” to your last name 😀

    ps: I’m in an interesting situation too… Common name, uncommon spelling!

  2. I never tought your name was strange, actually. I always thought it was ‘Ashfaq’, a common Muslim name, spelt without the ‘h’.

    But, why the hell was your user-name banned from Forums?

  3. Kris: Yeah.. I know about that incident. Hehe. Happens with everyone. Damn the T9 dictionary!

    Savio: I don’t know why. Websites that manually screen new usernames are normally the offenders.

    Nicky: There there..

  4. Imagine about my name!!!!!!!!! Neelofer such a beautiful name with a beautiful meaning,, i.e., water lilly! But people call me and write my name as nilufer, neelofar, nilufur, and nany call me LOAFER! ( you the lastest in the list) and I am living with it since birth… my name on my passport is Neelofar, thanks to the government officials, (thats a different story, it was earlier correct with wrong date of birth) I gave them to change the date and the changed my name spelling and gave back. ) I went with that name on my passport overseas though far far away… 😀

  5. Haha..!!, I know what you really mean , coz mostly around more than 70% people don’t spell my name right even its not that hard 😀 , their favourite names for me are ritesh and pratik and I have got accustomed with it,
    In early days I used to feel bad on people not able to pronounce my name.
    But as I grew up I felt proud I am not among the other common ones hanging around, this makes them give a bit more attention and clearly the real advantage you mentioned.

  6. Nice to knw the reason and d fact tht there ia no reason 😉 … keep smiling and now I knw tht I have ur attention :p

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