<%-- Page Title--%> Straight Talk <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 150 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

April 16, 2004

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The Name Game

Nadia Kabir Barb

Have you ever played the "Name Game"? I am sure you have, even if you did not realise it. How many times have you met someone and not remembered their names and then spent the next few excruciating minutes trying to think of ingenious ways of trapping them into revealing their identity without allowing the person in question understand that you have not got the faintest clue who he or she is. The worst part is when they obviously know your name (and possibly your entire life history) and are waiting to be introduced to your spouse, relative, friend or whomever you happen to be with at the time. "This is Shar…Nas...Rum… I give up, who are you?" is not the best way to make yourself popular. There are many people who are gifted as far as remembering names is concerned. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I do remember faces but names are a little more elusive. So for those of us who find ourselves in this sad predicament, we have to play this game of "Guess the Name" time and time again.

If the person you have thoroughly offended by not recognising them is a remote acquaintance it is still possible to live with yourself but what if the person in question is someone you went to school or college with? Having been hugged and told that you have not changed a bit, how do you then ask them what their name happens to be? Claiming that you are suffering from temporary amnesia is really not a good idea it only works in soap operas. So this is where the game begins and you find yourself trying to extract the name without being too obvious. You could play a very subtle game of twenty questions and see if you can come up with the answer or you can pull out your dairy or any scrap of paper you have at hand and ask them to write down their telephone number themselves. If providence is on your side they will write their name and number and you can wipe the sweat of your brow and feel like a less terrible human being but if lady luck is on holiday then they might just write down their number assuming you know their name and will put it in later on. Another scenario is when you actually recognise the face and just cannot remember the name or how you know them. In other words when you know you know the person but don't quite know who they are or where you know them from. I had this particular problem once when I was greeted by someone who I immediately recognised but just could not put my finger on who they were. Did I go to school with her? Maybe we had some tuition together somewhere or was it a 'dawat' we had met at. Fortunately she inadvertently helped me out by asking if I had heard from X, Y and Z which made me realise exactly who she was and how I knew her!

If I said "Avi and Ali" to you, would you know who was the female and who was the male component of this duo? My sentiments exactly! The androgynously named couple happen to be parents of a girl who goes to the same school as my daughters. My husband having introduced himself to the couple forgot to tell me who was who so when I met them, I took pot luck and greeted the husband and asked him to thank Avi for dropping the girls home the previous day. I had a fifty-fifty chance of being right but on the flip side I had exactly the same odds of being wrong. From the raised eyebrow and politely hidden look of surprise, I came to the obvious conclusion that my guess had been completely off the mark. Trust my luck, he was Avi and she was Ali, short for Alison! Moral of the story, when in doubt just go for the safer option of referring to the absent spouse as "better half", "other half". Oh yes, if you forget the names of peoples children, it really is alright to ask how the "kids" or "little ones" are or what the "family" is up to. You will be forgiven purely on the basis that at least you asked about them. However, one word of advice, make sure you know whether it is "kid" or "kids". Yes I speak from experience where I made the mistake of asking about the "boys" and then remembered they only had one. Come to think of it, it's actually a girl. Oops.



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