Friday, January 29, 2010

The irony of a common name

After reading my recent posts, people have been calling me with a lot of names.
Wannabe, philosophical, gyaan guru are a few!
Some also said that you are such a funny guy ( yup I like to believe that :) ), why do you always write about deep, serious topics!!
So, I told myself – fair enough – I can write funny and after 15 days of clueless thinking, I gave up. But, you know I believe in destiny. Tonight I got an email which was meant for some other Amit Agarwal and it was the Eureka moment!!  I knew what I was going to write about.
So let’s discuss the irony of having a popular name.
Well, Amit is a very popular name back in India and Agarwal is an equally popular surname. So the combination of both can be highly lethal and devastating.
One big issue with having a common name is no availability of usernames of your choice on the web. Thousands bucks if someone can find me a username of my choice on any popular website. And believe me, I have tried all the possible permutations and combinations. So, what are commoners ( common namers ) like me left with – an username or an email which consists of my name and some obscure or weird numbers.
I am a big fan of Google – it helps you find facts and people so easily. I personally use it to look for people all the time (it’s not stalking). However, do you want to google me. Try it – a search on Amit Agarwal gives you over 240K results. So people who are looking for me ( dhoondhte reh jayoge )
The funniest and the most annoying aspect of having a common name is that in a 100 meter radius, you will definitely find a few who share the same name. So if you hear someone yelling out your name, there is no assurance that that name call is for you.
Also, I personally don’t like the idea of someone calling you by your surname. But as things would be, my surname has always been tagged to my name for identification purposes in class, at work and everywhere else. So, I have been unwontedly called Amit Agarwal all my life.
Having a common name also hits you big on your identity (so called pehchaan). With a common name, creating a niche for yourself becomes more challenging.
As a human trait, we will always find the grass greener on the other side (but, since I have achieved Nirvana, I am above all this :p). I only look at the benefits of a common name and they are numerous.
To talk about the first benefit, let’s go back to the story of the email I got today about the other Amit Agarwal. Couple of months back I went to a seminar on financial derivatives and risk analysis event (details intended). At the registration desk, when I gave my name, I was ushered into a private more luxurious suite. I was offered VIP treatment there with the perks. Now, I am a meager MBA student who deserves but never gets this kind of exclusive treatment. So without asking any questions, I enjoyed my moment of glory and fame.
After a few minutes, I was asked whether I was ready with my presentation. Trying to not act surprised or petrified, (which I obviously was) I asked the organizer what presentation are we talking about? With a bemused look, he said the 30 minutes talk you are going to give us about “Structured Products and their long term risk implications”. With the straightest face I could manage, I admitted that I didn’t have freaking clue what he was talking about. Apparently, there was a different Amit Agarwal ( yes another A.A. in HK ) who was suppose to give a presentation on that Greek or Latin topic . Well, it didn’t matter- The blueberry cheese cake they served in the VIP room was delicious.
Morale of the story, there can be perks of having a common name.
Another significant benefit of having a common name is that you can easily camouflage yourself when you don’t want to be revealed. I lost counts of the number of times I have shifted responsibilities by blaming it on some other Amit particularly if it’s about being delegated a task or an unwanted work.    
Furthermore, having a common name has the benefit that I never need to correct the pronunciation of my name. While my other Indian friends who get tired correcting the way their names are pronounced, I never have to go through that exercise.
Nonetheless, irony of having a common name will always exist. It’s upon you how you want to perceive this scenario.

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