Anvi, Avin, Ani, Avini are some of the tamer and understandable mangles.
Vivienne, Ami, Vavni, some of the more inventive.
I absolutely love my name. I love it's spelling (the right way), its meaning (the Earth, in Sanscrit), the way it manages to be succinct in a way that I can't quite manage in real life.
But inevitably, at least once a day, I fight a battle, endure an embarrassment, or suffer a slight on its behalf.
Mostly it's in cafes or lunch spots where they take down your name in the effort to be more personal and have the staff connect with their customers. But that's irony for you. Because by the time I have to watch you pick up my order, stare at the name on the slip, scrunch up your face and look up to scan the room in the hopes of saving you from the embarrassment, I am already wishing it were just a number and we weren't connecting so much. I will usually rescue you from further distress because I'm that girl that can't bear to listen to those embarrassing prank calls on the radio for the sheer awkwardness or watch painful interviews on the news.
And by this time, I'll likely also have endured the drawn-out process at the cash register where I had to give you my name like I was spelling conscientious on a bad international connection. And I get it - it's loud, you deal with too many people in too short a time. So here too I will have tried to make your life easier:
"Avni. A-V-N-I" I do it automatically. As if that's my full name: AVNI A-V-N-I. I have always defaulted to avoiding the conflict and the confusion. I am a student of efficiency and love my life to be the same.
Not everyone thinks like that. M has a harder name than I. There are d's and g's and h's involved that exist to make your life harder. Yeah, she doesn't care. This is how her version goes down:
"Mugdha." Then the eye to eye stare down that dares you to ask her to "repeat that". And I love it. I love the confidence and the belief that the burden of accuracy shouldn't have to fall on her shoulders. I remember the first time I noticed this, back when we were both consulting and we had popped over to a local burrito joint for lunch.
"Why should I have to spell it?" (I bit my tongue on the obvious). "They'll spell it how they'll spell it. Saves me the effort."
I remember thinking that was genius. And bless her, she totally dealt with the inevitable mangle that came back.
Names are hard things. You don't choose them, but they are the most prominent, daily part of you besides perhaps your appearance. They represent you, identify you, and in some ways define you.
And everyone has their own personal battles with their monikers, whether it's Megan or Jasper or Stephen. But it's likely not something they have to confront on a daily basis.
I love that I have a unique name that means something in the language of my forebearers. But each time I hand over my name, I sigh a little sigh of relief if I don't have to engage in this little dance.
Because my name, by any other name, does not smell or sound as sweet.
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