Stop Calling Me Names!

Pandemonium, emails flooding my computer, chefs buzzing about, people dodging in and out of office, phones ringing off the hook. It was a regular day at work. Then this happened.

Receptionist – There’s a call for Swapnil, shall I transfer?

Me – Yes patch them through please.

Caller – Hi, this is Swapnil?

Me – Yes, hi, this is Swapnil.

Caller – I’m calling about the contract please?

Me – I’m sorry what contract?

Caller – This is Swapnil!

Me – Yes, this is Swapnil!

Caller – I’m  sorry who am I speaking to?

Me – Swapnil!

Caller – Yes?

Me – What?!

Caller – What?!

Me – Who are you?

Caller – Swapnil

Me – Your name is Swapnil?

Caller – Yeah? And I’m calling about the contract?

Me – (Sigh) I think you want to speak to Sales. My name is Swapnil too and I’m in Marketing.

Caller – But…’re a girl?

Guess if I transferred his call to Sales?

Punjabis are never ever sexist about naming their children. If Honey is good enough for your mum, then it’s good enough for your strapping 6 foot son. This is of course laudable. Except when your parents give you a name that even Punjabis don’t name their daughters. I have spent nights staring at the ceiling, contemplating changing my name to something else. Anything, please, even Princess Consuella Bananahammock.

Eventually I’ve learned to live with it, and even like having an unusual (traditionally boy’s) name. It wouldn’t be so hard if it weren’t for people mispronouncing your name ALL the time!

Here’s a list of names I’ve been called:

Mr. Swapnil

Mr. Midha











Swarmil (what?!)


Sobana (what?!)



Shtop shtop please for the love of God shtop! It’s easy. It’s pronounced swup (like pup) and nil (like bill). Two syllables. Come on!

And then of course there’s what my parents call me. Anku (what?!). That’s a story for another day.