Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Name

It is not a terribly uncommon name.  That was a double negative, awful.  It is not even an impossible name to pronounce.  And another double negative.  I apologize--they seem to be getting away from me.  It is not even easy to find me on Facebook.  Through some mystical mechanism, it is nearly impossible to find me on Facebook.  There are pages of Priya Parmars and I am on about the thirty-seventh page.

It is pronounced exactly like it is written.  Well maybe not, the 'y' is a bit tricky and can outfox you but when people meet me they do not know about the 'y' yet.  Now, it sounds like I am talking in code.  I am not.  Still, P-R-I-Y-A--not difficult, right?  But, I know that people have trouble with it and so rather than risk hideous awkwardness, I repeat it to give them a second shot at it, and reassure them that it is a hard name, and forgive anyone who forgets it instantly, and and and...

Still, I get people being occasionally, horribly rude.  I am used to the painful pause when people forget it, but it is an altogether different beast from the puzzled pause when they try to work it out.  This happened today when the man concluded the painful pause with "What are you?"  Ummm.  How do I answer that?

What he meant was, 'what sort of name is that?'.  This man was from Michigan, he was standing in a Waterstone's book store in Gower St.  I understood the nature of the question and I am admittedly a strange half Indian, been living in Hawaii, went to university in the UK, living in the middle of London with blonde hair mix.

I would be totally prepared to overlook the badly worded question if he tone had not been so meanish.  Why mean?  We were standing in a bookstore.  Who gets personal, rude and mean in a book store?  A lovely book store at that, one of my favourites.  The Waterstone's in Gower St. is marvellous.  It has a delicious early twentieth century collection (I have been romping through Forster, Bowen and West) and has about the best poetry collection in London.  Auden, Yeats, Akhmatova, Pasternak, Herbert, Milosz, Cavafy, Walcott?  Humph, one shouldn't get mean in front of Walcott.

Onto better news:

Nell is up for a group read on Goodreads!


  1. Ugh. As a former Michigander, I apologize.

  2. Ugh! The SAME thing always happens to me!

    Love from,


  3. I'm surprised to hear the name is so prevalent on Facebook. I thought it was fairly uncommon! That guy just sounds ignorant. There are so many ill mannered people around and about than I care to think of. Unfortunately, THAT is not uncommon! Don't take them on, Priya. They're not worth the energy or the thought.

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  5. thank you june! sorry--i managed to misspell 'thank you' in the comment above and had to delete it... x

  6. I totally empathize! My first name is very common but I spell it unusually, and my last name (German) is not at all common and I do understand when people mispronounce it, but not when they add multiple Ls to it (it has none). It's always been frustrating, but recently I was chatting with a woman whose last name is Montgomery, and she said it's misspelled and mispronounced all the time - which I find shocking! Sometimes I wonder if people don't try to screw them up. People with ordinary names really don't seem to understand how just a tiny bit of effort would go so far with those of us with more difficult names. It's disrespectful to not try.

  7. I'm sorry that guy was rude to you. Were you just a little bit tempted to say that you were a human and ask him what he was?

    I've had people ask me that before too (or they'll ask me where I'm from and what they really mean is my race because when I say "Ohio" they aren't satisfied). By the way, I think Priya is a lovely name. I have a cousin named Priya.

  8. carin, montgomery? how can you screw up montgomery? oh dear. it is true--the effort is so appreciated...

    chritina, that is exactly what i was tempted to say, but I had just been talking to the lovely manager of the book shop about eventually doing a reading there and it crossed my mind that he would uninvite me if i was rude back to the rude man....

    you have a cousin named priya? i actually just met my first priya when i was flying back to the states for christmas. she checked me in at the airport and gave me a window seat. i love that you answer ohio. i have to start answering like that.

  9. priya how awful! you are the only priya i know, but you do see the name in print quite a bit i'd say. i'd always assumed it was a fairly common Indian name. he was probably having a bad day, but that is no excuse! i'm sorry. usually when someone hears my name they either think i am Erin or Muriel. or they say "what kind of name is that?" like your bookstore friend was trying to do. then occasionally it is all made well by someone - who upon hearing my name - begins to quote verse from The Tempest. there seems to be a wide range of knowledge and, it seems, politeness out there. i wonder what his name was...

  10. erin or muriel! priceless! i love it xx

  11. It won the poll which is fabulous news Priya well done.
    Priya is a lovely name, a mean man indeed!

  12. lindy lou, i just got your message and went to look on goodreads. i am thrilled!!!!!!!

  13. I get the same from my name since it's Tibetan it has gone through butchering until I say... hmmm it's like Emma but with a P in the front... Not Pee ma...

    From one girl to another girl with a funky name just smile and say More Powers to the P!

    PS Hmmm gotta say.. that man had no class since he probably lives in a bubble. Voila hex on that mean man.

  14. Priya I know what you mean! I get that all the time (as does my sister, who is also a Priya :)). Not only have we gotten "What are you," but the question "Where are you from" always confuses us. Umm.. I'm American. Or do you mean Fort Wayne, Indiana? Or that my parents are from India?

    I always end up clarifying. But oh well, it's always fun telling people what your name means! Although I got "Pray to God" and my sister got "Bubbly and Lovely" haha

    - Puja


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