x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

What's in a name?

Having a double moniker is sometimes an interesting talking point, but it can also be a challenge.

Your name sir?" asked the hotel receptionist.

"Saeed," I replied.

"Your last name sir?"

"Saeed" I said.

"No sir, I meant your last name."

"That is my last name," I sighed and watched my inquisitor's face register incredulity and suspicion.

"That is not very common," he muttered before checking me in.

This is more or less a good encounter. Being blessed with a double moniker has sometimes been an interesting talking point, but it has also been the cause of hours of inane conversations at the most inappropriate times.

Like five years ago in a Washington, DC, terminal where I was in a hurry to catch a bus to New York.

The eyebrows of the man at the ticket counter arched upon hearing my name.

"Do you know a guy called Fred Fred?" he asked deadpan.

During another trip in Spain, the hostel owner laughed hysterically. Tears were coming out of his eyes and it took him quite some time to recover enough to check me in.

Back in my former home of Australia some wondered whether the name was a cultural or religious practice. Well, let me unveil the reason behind this double mystery: my parents' motivations were neither cultural nor religious, but rather purely practical.

I was originally born Saeed Abdul Hamid Saeed Nassir. However, before we migrated to Australia it was decided somehow that it was too long and the last name was unsentimentally snipped.

Ironically, the decision ended up causing more controversy than intended and probably caused many job applications to be rejected by hiring managers who didn't believe it could be the name of a real person.

Recently I decided to search the internet for other people who have the same first and last name.

I was astonished to discover a large population of the double-named. Unlike me, their names were not even manipulated, they were all the real McCoy. Such as Lance Lance and Thomas Thomas from the US, and Mehmet Mehmet from Istanbul.

And just last week an Australian Egyptian called Farid Farid got in contact with me.

All of this had me thinking of setting up what could be the first ever gathering of people with the same first and last names.

Naturally, it will be held every 11 years and alternate between the rural Australian towns of Wagga Wagga and Woy Woy.

I would invite the small boutique Philadelphian gallery David David Inc to display art work and entertainment would be provided by American comedian Bruce Bruce and 1990's RnB singer Lisa Lisa.

The best part of it all would be that no money would have to be wasted in sending out invitations.

Everybody would know if their name was on the list.