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Err.. Excuse me what’s your name?

August 12, 2009

I have a very good memory and when it comes to names I am even better. For those who haven’t noted the tone of sarcasm in the above statement, here I confess: I am very bad at remembering names.

I see a person talk to him/her for a while and move on. But if the same person comes before me the next day, I remember talking to that person, I recognize the face, the discussion we had the previous day, but when it comes to the person’s name I somehow cannot recollect it 😐 And for obvious reason of sounding rude, I do not/cannot directly ask the person his/her name and hence I am left with no other option but to start the iska-naam-kya-tha contest, wherein I will try and devise plans to find out the name of the other person.

nameIn most cases, I would continue talking to the person (whose name I have to recollect) and listen attentively to all the words he/she speaks. If it’s a friend’s friend or someone similar, by listening to their words we can deduce their nicknames/short names and thereby my clever brain would recollect the name based on that little hint. If this doesn’t work out then I would have to follow any other similar tactics and thereby deduce the name of the person without they realizing that I forgot their name.

Here are two such incidents which I can remember as of now where in I forgot the name of the person and how I found out their names later on.

I was sitting in my cab (a mini bus) on the way to office.  I was sitting beside a girl whom I have known for a while. Those of us who come by the office transport have to sign some attendance-like sheet. As it’s a boring thing to do, generally the person sitting in the first row writes all the names. She and I were sitting in the first row that day. I wrote my name and then was about to write her details but I couldn’t recollect her name. I knew her from a while but somehow her name slipped out of my memory. I tried hard to remember but no luck. After knowing her for that long I couldn’t ask her name. So I asked her if she would write the names of everyone in the list and she readily agreed. While she was entering the sheet, I sneaked a look into the sheet and saw her name. I still don’t know how the named slipped from my mind.

Another such incident occurred when I was new in my job. Our team was a small one and didn’t have a manager until then. We would directly report to the department head. One day, he called me into his office and introduced one person to me and said that he’s a new joinee (a manager) and would be helping me do my work in the coming days and I should report to him from then. I thought that after my new manger comes out of this cabin, I would go and introduce myself properly and brief him on what I was doing. After that I came back to my cubicle and resumed my work. When I was going to this new manager’s seat, I realized I forgot his name. I talked to him and discussed everything but I couldn’t still recollect his name. With no other option left, I apologized for not remembering his name and asked for his name. Luckily, he dint get offended and told his name.

One thing that puzzles me is to why people get offended if anyone forgets their name. Name is something which is related to our identity but then expecting others to remember your name in the first or second meeting itself. Isn’t it a little too much? And more so is it practical to remember every name you hear on the 1st instance itself? For me, it’s not. Also, I don’t mess up their name or say that aren’t you X or Y or whatever name that comes to mind and give a stupid excuse why I thought it was their name. I try to remember the name or else ultimately ask the name rather than cooking up some stories.

The silver lining here is, Even though I am hopeless in remembering the names of people, I have a very good record to spell out people’s names correctly: Be it names like Saravanan, Swaminathan..Etc. (trust me I have seen people murdering such names in front of the person. For example there’s a person in office by the name Saravanan. He is called as sharavanan, shravan, sarva, sravan, sarvan, and the like. We also heard about how Smitha suffered from name mutilation) I always spell them correctly. I not only spell it correctly but also write down the spelling correctly 🙂

Dint anyone face situations where in you forget the names of the person you are talking to? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2009 5:39 PM


  2. August 12, 2009 5:48 PM

    Ask me abt name mutilation 😛 I hv been called Swarthi too 😯
    I said the same on Smithu’s post anyways 😉
    Ya..i have read about it! how in the name of god will they come up with such names!
    Coming to the topic, I can’t remember any such incident as of nw .. but what u said is rt – better to ask them again rather than trying all possible permutations n comnbinations 🙂

  3. August 13, 2009 12:19 AM

    dont talk to me about name mutilation!!! its madness!
    ashwathy (pronounced ash-wa-ti) … is actually a very keralite name. but a lot of ppl have difficulty in pronouncing it. thats why mostly the nickname ‘ash’ is used… but i beg to differ that there is no ever reference to aishwarya rai pls 😛

    i used to write to magazines during my younger days…
    i used to write to them as Ms Ashwathy and the letter used to return as Mr Awasthi 😐 go figure!!!
    lol.. Mr Awasthi! poor you!
    that apart, i really dont take offence when a person does not remember my name. but if it keeps on happening with the same person repeatedly, THEN i’d have a problem.
    that’s what i feel..forgetting the name once or twice should not at all be a problem.

  4. August 13, 2009 4:28 AM

    Well! Well! Well! Look whos speaking about names !!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    None of us here know YOUR name!!!
    Me: 😀 😀
    Ok a PJ, is your name Teri ? you know, Miss-Teri !!!
    How intelligent of you vimmuu! to deduce my name as Teri. Keep up the good work 😀

    • August 13, 2009 12:31 PM


      mmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmm
      Swaram you are joining vimmuu 😐
      you being a fellow-city blogger should be on my side.

  5. August 13, 2009 9:16 AM

    I won’t forget names and if anyone forget my name i don’t mind but if they say my name wrongly i feel bad.I had a boss who used to call me sarika inspite of telling him so many times that i am not sarika,he used to call me sarika only.
    Some people do it purposefully saritha. it gets so irritating at times.. My name has also been twisted a lot of times on purpose..:(

  6. August 13, 2009 10:56 AM

    i always forget names……………… 😛
    Good that i am not alone!
    one tactics that i always use is to ask for full name????? 😛 hehehehe so the other person is also not that offended 😛 😛
    that is one good tactic OG! I will definitely follow it from the next time 🙂

    • August 14, 2009 12:18 AM

      as a reporter for a newspaper… when i cudnt remember the name of a person, i used to him/her to spell it out for me politely without asking them what the name is… they mostly oblige…
      of course that is successful usually only with slightly complicated names. simple names with no spelling change like amit, arun etc. usually get me stares when i ask this 😀 oh well, u win some, u lose some!

      lol.. spell out amit/arun! that would have looked really funny 😆

  7. August 13, 2009 12:17 PM

    Hi Mystery,

    You have been awarded:

    Please accept it 🙂

    Thank you Kanagu!

  8. August 13, 2009 1:44 PM

    Is that why you choose to be a Mystery? 😆
    Isn’t it the best? if at all they forget my name, the would wonder about it and then think it would be a mystery and then it would strike that my name is indeed mystery 🙂
    Ok.. i agree stupid explanation 😐

    My name is very simple and never had much problem but my daughter’s name is long and I thought it would be tough but these people here get it fast. Not at first instance though! but they do get it after sometime.
    it isn’t about long or short Solilo..somehow i forget the name’s only when i meet the person twice or thrice, i get to remember the name..

  9. August 14, 2009 12:29 PM

    😆 Mystery the first few lines of the post could have been about me 😀 😀
    I have a PATHETIC memory 😀

    yay! dont worry indy we have company here.. looks like not many are very good at remembering names 🙂
    regarding the line about how people get offended I am reasonable sure that not many would get offended if asked politely for their names (after you have been honest with them ..I do the same 😀 )
    That’s the point indi. i agree that i forgot their name and also apologize for it but some people get offenced for it also as if we have committed a big crime 😦

    The thing that irritates me is when people make no effort to pronounce a name properly even after it has been explained a dozen times…
    yeah.. they think it’s ok to distort someone’s name like that.. i guess they’ll know hte pain when their name is being twisted like ours 🙂

  10. craftyshines permalink
    August 14, 2009 3:39 PM

    gee…since u already linked smithu’s post, u have read in her comments section my saga! sigh!
    Yes crafty! shiney’s tales 🙂
    LOL! okie..i know its a dilemma when u forget names, but ur incidents are lol! manager didn’t get offended! good!
    ya..good for me 😉
    yeah, even i don’t know why ppl get offended when u’ve had only few interactions!!

    me to have forgotten…like old school mates…but only those who i’ve not interacted with too much with in school.u know…just the faces are familiar….and they come up and talk n remember my name, i do feel stupid! 😐
    then i talk to my best friend from school and describe the person i spoke to and she tells me who it might have been! 😛 😛
    lol.. even me does the same at times 🙂
    once, in college, i sat in a bus and a guy from my class was there. he joined me and spoke to me, and he knew my name, but i did not know his! i tried all efforts to look at his journal label, but i cudn’t see his name! finally i asked to see his journal! and read his name…

    but then, that itself was stupid! suddenly i ask to see his journal without any context! 😛
    Me: 😆
    i am particular about name pronunciation, and make sure i get it right! 😀
    Ya..we should make sure of it..after all it’s our name. right?

  11. August 14, 2009 6:50 PM

    Oh Mystery! Names! I normally do not forget people’s names.. But once in a while, I do. My driving instructor’s name – I just did not get. I mean, she introduced herself over the phone and I did not catch it – for some reason. And then, I was too embarrased to ask, so everytime, I rang her, I would introduce myself and feel horrible that I did not know her name. Finally I asked her and apologized for not catching her name 🙂 She was really sweet about it though 🙂
    Names told over the phone tho dont even tell.. i never remember them in the first instance.. never
    But, yes, most of the time, I get names and I do try to pronounce(and spell) them the correct way.. My name mutilation saga – you already know 🙂
    Ya.. i know..thats why linked your post here 🙂

  12. August 15, 2009 12:42 PM

    I have some good memory for names and numbers, so never messed them up much.. 🙂
    Lucky you!
    but multilation happens with my name often… its a big name which makes the matter worse..

    In my college, during first day they called my name… and I didn’t got it and by guessing I went.. and I shocked at the name they have written in the register.,.. its a complete mismatch 😦 don’t know how people are so careless about one’s name.. 😦
    it happened with many of my friends too.. the attendance register always had their names wrong..

  13. August 17, 2009 5:11 AM

    My name is so simple that I never thought it would be misunderstood.. how much can you twist Meena ? but I have been called Meera and teena a lot humph!
    Simple names are the ones which people mess always!
    And in our school we had this craze of calling ppl only by last name.. even know I remember ppl as patil vaidya etc etc and they called me as Iyer..

    So once something happened and these ppl told someone about me as Iyer this or something.. and that person didnt catch it properly as said What wire?

    Since then my nickname became Wire! Can you believe that ??
    LOL..wire!!! poor you! you must have felt like thrashing that person.right??
    Oh I am good with names/nick and dates. I still remember the Bdates of my school friends whom I have not met/talked in 10 years!
    OMG!wonderful memory you’ve got!
    Once in a while you might see me pondering.. ah today is someone’s bday.. I dont remember whose though.. And until I figure it out.. i go crazy remembering 😀

    I still remember my friends name whom I haven’t seen in nearly 18 years 😀
    18 years!!! 😯

  14. August 20, 2009 1:54 PM

    Just recently in my bro’s wedding…

    an uncle came and shook my boss’ hand… and asked him do you recognise me… ??

    he didnt… and he pointed to me and told me to introduce him…

    and suddenly

    i was blank…

    this uncle i knew quite well in bharuch… he would regularly gift hriday chocolates when we would go near his shop… !!!!! but the name at that moment just wouldnt come… I was going red

    and just spluttered after smilling sheepishly for about 10 seconds…

    he lives in shivam !!

    shivam apartment is the building where he lives… and my boss is a Indore resident…

    he wouldnt have a clue what shivam means… !!!!!!!

    I was so badly embarassed… !! that uncle was Rameshbhai as my wife and mom reminded me…

    bah… these names… !! very bad… and my memory most pathetic..

    It happened a lot of times to me.. i go blank at the required moment..

  15. September 2, 2009 9:32 AM

    I felt u were writing about me 😉 because am exactly the same way 😀
    Me: 🙂
    In my initial days in college I kept forgetting names and when I asked this girl her name again she said “this is the 10th time am telling u my name now I will not tell again :D”
    Oh it happened to me too.. in initial days of college, there were two guys who(i thought) looked similar. i knew two names but dint know which was whose 🙂 and i bugged them the whole year 😀
    In my MBA Class also my neighbors used to prompt me as I never remembered names 😀 Even now I have a tendency of going blank and you can often find me saying “tumhara naam kya hai, uska naam kya hai” and that too with ppl with whom I interact almost daily 😀

    All I say is hota hai duniya hai, chalta hai 😀
    ha ha hota hai 🙂 there are lot of people whom we interact daily but then the name suddenly slips out of the mind.. luckily for me many have understood this and tell their names again 🙂
    PS Sorry for coming in soooo late
    Chalta hai 🙂 🙂 🙂

  16. October 12, 2009 6:41 PM

    “I remember talking to that person, I recognize the face, the discussion we had the previous day, but when it comes to the person’s name I somehow cannot recollect it”

    I suffer from this curious disease too….70% of the time I directly ask but sometimes its just too embarrasing to ask.
    The latest is….one of my daughter’s classmates mother calls me often to chk on HW, etc. She always calls me Nancy & I keep calling her Samia ki Maa :-(. I asked my daughter to find out from Samia in school but my daughter keeps forgetting how to pronounce by the time she reaches home :-S
    yes it gets embarrassing many times..

  17. October 12, 2009 6:42 PM

    The best part is tht I remember almost every bloggers screen name 😀

    🙂 that even i remember..but its getting tough with blogs of similar names..

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