A few days back, when I had a problem with the internet at my home, I called customer service. The conversation went like this.
I’m Jahnavi. My internet connection is not working. Can you please check the issue?
My last name is Chintakunta.”
“You want me to spell it. Ok.
C as in California
H as in Hawaii
I as in Indiana
N as in New york
T as in Texas”
So on and so forth.
By the time, I spelled out my last name, I had listed 10 states in America.And by the time I spelled my complete name over the phone, I forgot why I had called the customer service in the first place.
Did you face a similar issue? Is your name too complex to pronounce? Is it too long to spell?
Well, I have some funny incidents about my name and here they are.
While I was growing up, my name was so unique that even native people found it difficult to pronounce. The exact pronunciation of my name is Jahnavi (3 syllables; ‘h’ and ‘n’ overlap making a sound ‘hn’) and obviously, a lot of people faltered while pronouncing. People started creating their own versions of my name and the result: Fifty shades of my name.
At school, my teachers called me ‘janaavi’ or ‘janhavi’. My friends, unable to put even that effort, shortened my name to ‘Janu’. That name was so cute and so sweet, it felt very personal. So, except for my close friends, I didn’t like anyone to call me by that name.
I did my schooling and college in my native place. When I got a job, I moved to a different state. In India, people speak different languages in different states. So, my name was completely new to my colleagues. They found it too hard to pronounce. Generally, before uttering my name, they paused for few seconds to gather all the syllables in my name. I loved their respect for me, but I also felt pity for them. I wanted to help them, at the same time, I wanted to save my name from further disgrace. So I started introducing myself as ‘Janvi’ (2 syllables instead of the 3 syllables). At that time, I was working in a software company where I had to interact with European clients. The experience was even more hilarious. One day, someone called me Geneva (like the city in Switzerland), some other called me Jawani (which means youth in Indian language). Slowly I got so adjusted to my name abuse that in the meetings if anyone was struggling to pronounce a name starting with ‘J’, I would volunteer and ask “ Are you looking for Jahnavi? It’s me “
After I moved to the United States, the issue with my name got bigger. For any inquiry over the phone or for scheduling any appointment, I have to spell my full name and it became a tedious process.
In those few moments of despair, I feel “ Darn! Why do I have such a complicated name?”
One day, I asked my Mom, “Mom, Why did you give me such a difficult name? No one ever calls my name correctly”.
She replied in a cool manner “ Oh! That’s a character in a novel I had read when I was a teenager. I loved that name and so ..”
“So.. So you gave me that name.Moommm ! ”
“Baby, it is also the name of an Indian goddess. Actually, it is the other name of River Ganges”
I figured out that there was no point in arguing with her now. I decided to find a solution for my name trouble. I wanted to shorten my name. But how? Will it be ‘Jaan’ as in ‘January’ or ‘John’ as in ‘Johnny’ or Just Miss ‘J’ ?
As I was still searching for a perfect nickname for myself. one day I had to book a doctor’s appointment for my daughter. I called the hospital. The conversation went like this.
“Good Morning. I would like to book an appointment for my daughter. Her name is Yasaswini. I’ll spell it out for you.
Y as in Yellow
A as in Africa
S as in Seattle.
Wait, Isn’t it Deja vu? Didn’t I do this before? Oh! this was similar to my struggle to spell my full name. Then, I realized my mistake. I was so attracted to the meaning of my daughter’s name that I forgot I was passing on my legacy: complex name. Yasaswini means a successful woman and I always want my daughter to be successful., Oops! I hadn’t given much thought about pronunciation. As of now, my kid is just 5 years old. But I think, in few years, she will ask me ‘Mom, Why did you give me such a tough name’.
What should I do? How will I answer my kid’s question about her complicated name?
As I was thinking about this, I came across words of wisdom from the famous play ‘Romeo and Juliet “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Wow. That’s it. I got a solution to my question. I need not shorten my name and neither my daughter.
Thanks to the legendary writer, Shakespeare who helped me settle my anxiety over my name. Now I can say “What’s in my name. ‘Jahnavi’ , ‘Jaanvi’ or ‘Janhavi’, It will always be me.”
In fact, I’m proud that I have “Fifty Shades of ‘Jahnavi’”.