On umpteen occasions people have mistook my actual name “Vinaya” to be that of a girl. I often end up with e-mails addressing me as “Ms. Vinaya” or calls that begin with “Hello Madam.” When they do realize the mistake, it often ends with the question “So…what do I call you? Vinay or Vinaya?â€ To which I have always patiently replied, “My actual name is Vinaya. But you can call me Vinay.”
To being with, it was not like I had the choice to choose my name. My dad was a great believer in god, astrology, numerology, palmistry, and other occultic stuff. I did ask my dad one day, “Why did you name me as Vinaya, when Vinay was perfectly fine?” To which he replied that the extra ‘a’ made all the difference according to numerology. Since my dad was a very strict, no-nonsense kind of person, that was the end of our conversation.
The situation was not so bad when I was young than it is now. Sometimes it does get embarrassing!
In college, a physics lecturer while giving out the test scores said, “Oh! I thought Vinaya was a girl and so I was very liberal in my correction.” And that too in front of the whole class. I thought, “It’s not my mistake lady. Is it? Now stop embarrassing me.”
The ultimate humiliation happened one day when an astrologer asked for my name, deeply thought about it and then said “Well, you do look like you have a feminine side.” Thankfully, he did not say “parts” for “side.”
Moral of the story: Never have more letters in your name than necessary.