Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's in a name??

"What's in a name? " Shakespeare said, yet he put his name under that quote.

Well I also feel the same but there have been myriad incidences where people look extremely confused and at times ridiculous when they call out my name. Ok I know you might be baffled and not knowing where I am leading to. Well lets start from the beginning.

My name is

  1. Harshad
  2. Harshad Desai
  3. Harshad Suresh Desai
  4. Harshad S Desai
  5. H S Desai
  6. Desai Harshad Suresh
  7. Desai Harshad S
  8. Desai H S

This is not a multiple choice question. It is actually the different ways in which I am called or referred to.

My school (St. Andrews' High School) registered me in the format Desai Harshad Suresh and that’s the way schools (under State Board) in Maharashtra register all the students (no idea how some one without a surname manage). So till 10th standard all my mark-sheets had my name in the same format and so was the format followed in the SSC Mark Sheet. This format continued without any problems till I passed out 12th from Modern College.

Now even during IIT JEE and AIEEE, the admit cards had my name written in proper format. The real problem started after I took admission in NITC. Here I met people from all over India and the format which seemed so ubiquitous in Pune totally disappeared in Calicut. Only my friends from Maharashtra and some from State Boards were compatible with this (Surname first) format. But my other friends and more importantly teachers were confused with this format and couldn't make out what my real name was. Some called Desai (with horrible pronunciations), others called Harshad Suresh, a few even called Suresh (that's my Dad's name by the way). I had to clarify that my name was Harshad and call me just that. Well some teachers adapted and there were others who were confused for the entire semester.

It continued for 5 semesters without much problems (if I may say). But then came the biggest problem when I had to apply for passport.

Now if you have seen the passport application form it clearly has different boxes for surname and your first name (given name... that’s what they call). I filled the form with great care and the surname row had DESAI while the given name had HARSHAD. Father's name was included in another row so I thought there shouldn't be any confusions here. Feeling confident I went to the Passport Office waited there for half an hour or so till I was called in with forms and documents. So I reached the counter a bit nervous but much more satisfied.

I gave the lady at the counter my form and the other documents. She was going through all of those and I was happily waiting to get the acknowledgement. But then from nowhere she springs up this question "What is your name?" and all the previous efforts of making people understand this format came rushing. I tried to explain her and then she replied your given name (in all my mark sheets) is Desai Harshad Suresh and that is what you should write. All my attempts of convincing the people in charge were in vain and finally I had to make that change in my form. After a couple of months I got my Passport but then there was a problem!!!

The surname column in my passport is left empty and the given name shows Desai Harshad Suresh. I have no idea how many more problems will this create. I feel irritated and angry at times when people cannot understand or rather do not want to understand such everyday nuances. Now because of this misunderstanding I may face problems when I apply for a visa. Changing the name in your passport costs 1000 bucks. But more precious than those 1000 bucks is the time I will have to spend on rectifying this issue. People are requested to suggest me how should I approach this issue.

By the way I prefer being called as Harshad Desai than the other formats discussed above.

And the surname first format is the international format and is followed almost everywhere except some places in India (Calicut Passport Office to be particular).

I just want to say "What's in a format of the name?" rather than "What's in a Name?"


umang said...

Hey dude i m a 3rd yr student from IIT Roorkee and i completed my 10th &12th from nashik.
i face a similar problem.
my first name is Umang & surname is Rungta. But it has been enrolled 'Rungta Umang Omprakash'.
Thats the name called out during attendance and thats the name that comes in my gradesheets.
My passport has been made by surname as 'Rungta' & given names as 'Umang Omprakash'. i m planning 4 a foreign intern, can i face similar problems.

umang said...

i made my passport from maharashtra only, so i might not hav faced the same problem

Harshad Desai said...

I don't think you will face any problem...i read it somewhere that the visa form has a surname column which should match ur passport's surname.. in ur case it's ok i guess.

Nidhi said...

Hi Harshad

whats in a name indeed!
This is Nidhi.My passport does not contain a second name.I do not have a second name in any of my documents.I would be applying for MS this yr.What should I write in my second name column in my applications.I ask this because I believe that u might have faced similar situation.
Apologies for being so desperate!