x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

What's in a name? Everything, as long as it is spelt right

I am severely tempted to knock the living daylights out of the surprisingly fast-growing number of people stylising their names excessively. Please tell me what is so repulsive about "Syed Faisal" that one has to rebrand oneself "Caiyed Phaesel"?

There was a time when you could call a spade a spade. These days, it seems, you can call it a "spaide" or a "scpeyd" or, maybe (if you are more than a little crazy), "pspaied".

Is it just me or are there other people out there who are also severely tempted to knock the living daylights out of the surprisingly fast-growing number of people stylising their names excessively? I mean those of the moronic moniker persuasion who introduce themselves as Caiyed Phaesel and Ephra Schahh.

Aliah instead of Alia is understandable, I think. Schehzad for Shehzad is about as far as I can go without suppressing a gag reflex. Cyrah for Saira starts to wind me up - and I reach terminal velocity with Phaesel.

Please tell me what is so repulsive about "Syed Faisal" that one must rebrand oneself "Caiyed Phaesel"?

Because to me, Caiyed Phaesel sounds an awful lot like a Meyjurr Attenshun Seakurrr.

My favourites are the names that don't give much room for creative manipulation, so people end up interjecting multiples of the same letters. Picture an Aliii. Or an Anaaa. I've even seen some cases of three sets of double letters - Monica becomes Monniicca or Moniiccaa. I have been told that a lot of people do this on the advice of a numerologist who promises that the extra letter will bring, well, extra luck.

These people clearly need a psychiatrist, not a numerologist. To be a child whose parents decided that this is how your name will be spelt for the rest of your life (and thereby sealing your fate for a lifetime of bullying in the school playground) is tragic, cruel and almost bordering on child abuse.

But to be a mature adult with all your faculties about you, and to decide to spell your name like this? That testifies to something more serious, a more deep-seated demon at work.

It would be interesting to find out what the mechanics behind such a name-change are. Maybe one suddenly gets up one morning and goes, "I know what I'll do today! I'll change the spelling of my name to something that will automatically announce to everyone what a superior cretin I am!"

Because, honestly, what else can possibly make you decide to change your name to "Ephra"? (It clearly would serve better as the name for some vile, pink concoction sold over the counter to people with digestive problems.)

I normally spell my name as Ujala Ali Khan but you may have noticed that today I have adopted Oujalleh Aleiy Khannne. I admit that I am rather excited by the various potential benefits of the new stylised spelling.

For one, I am pretty sure I will never, ever get a cold call from a tele-sales agent ever again. I can almost picture some unsuspecting man sitting at his desk in a dreary backstreet office, looking at his Excel sheet and wondering which unsuspecting individual to talk into taking out a loan or credit card. He scrolls down the page and his mouse hovers over my name for a few seconds. Oujalleh Aleiy Khannne. I bet the guy would sprain his brain trying to figure out how to pronounce that monstrosity. I can see him hastily scroll on, looking for a Mohammed Ahmed or Sadia Rahman.

I can also be assured that the relevant usernames will always be available on Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media platforms. There is another Ujala Ali Khan (actually there are two, much to my disappointment: one from Lahore and the other from Peshawar) but cyberspace is devoid of anyone named Oujalleh Aleiy Khannne.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why.

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi fan living in Dubai