Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Quid Pro Quo

Arati Pandya Singh in this Little India article echoes the sentiment of many a desi who have their names routinely mauled and slaughtered beyond recognition in the West. My first name is more pronounceable than the last and I always encourage people to not even try to say my full name. First name is all I go by.

It used to cause some discomfort when at conference calls in the workplace, when a bunch of us would be introduced by the meeting organizer to those on the phone. Whereas, everyone else got referred to by their full names, I was only a first name. It was as if I was missing an appendage that everyone else had. And this is the fate of many a desi. Rarely if ever does anyone trouble to take on the challenging last name let alone get it right. Rarely if ever does a desi insist on it.

There must be something to do with pecking order in the organization, that I don't get to be a part of (for better or worse) being a consultant, and ability of the locals to pronounce a desi's name in full. I have noticed that desi brothers and sisters in corner offices, irrespective of how convoluted their names, always have their full names pronounced reasonably well. No one bothers with such niceties when it comes to desis lower down in the totem pole - and there are of course a whole lot more of those.

Like Arati Pandya Singh I have been wowed by customer service reps from India with pleasing American accents who can spell my name without any help and can pronounce it right the very first time. Unlike her, I have trouble dealing with anyone who is trying to sell me something and is not able to say my name correctly. If desi call center workers can get accent trained to interact with Western customers, quid pro quo would require that their western counterparts get a primer on pronouncing ethnic names and know to tell a male and female name apart. I have firmly but politely told many a telemarketer that I will be glad continue the conversation when they are able to pronounce my name correctly.


Arati said...

Nice article, glad you liked my article in Little India! :)


Heartcrossings said...

Arati - Thanks for stopping by ! Yes, loved your article in Little India.