As some of the readers of this blog may recall from an earlier post, I definitely have the most common Indian first name in our generation. Not convinced? Here are some statistics:
- In my undergraduate institute, I had five Amits in my class. And this is just about my stream “Computer Science and Engineering”; I am not even trying to count the Amits from other streams, but the number should be at least 12!
- In the first year of engineering, we had to share hostel rooms: four guys in one room. In my room, there was one guy named Achal, and three of us were Amits! The hostel had a common phone for incoming calls from families of students (Most of us didn’t have cell-phones at that time), and one day in the very first week, when my roommate Amit Verma turned up twice for phone calls meant for Amit Bhatnagar and Amit Sachan, he instituted a rule: The callers should be asking for the person they want to talk to by their last name!
- At Adobe, I was one of five (or maybe six, I don’t remember correctly) Amits in my team. At company level? I don’t have the exact number, but the internal directory of the company had a maximum limit of 32 results for any search string.The last I searched for “Amit” as the first name, I maxed out the limit!
Anyways, when I got an admit to a B-school in USA, I was very sure that I should no longer be worried about this. In US, it should be the Johns and the Mikes, who should be facing this issue, not the Amits. Right? Unfortunately not! In Goizueta class of 2011, we have four people named Amit. Actually, it appears that Goizueta has a history of admitting many Amits. There were 3 Amits each in classes of 2009 and 2010 too!
I used to find solace in this fact that at least I don’t have a common last name; certainly, A “Bhatnagar” is relatively harder to find as compared to a Gupta, Kumar, Patel or Singh. But this changed when I joined Goizueta, and didn’t get a firstname_lastname email address for my official school ID, as I had a namesake from class of 2008. (Yes, another “Amit Bhatnagar”!) I was a bit disappointed, but still, I didn’t foresee the repercussions of this event.
Quiet often, my teammates sent across their drafts for team-assignments to the wrong Amit Bhatnagar; I missed birthday parties and Club leadership meetings; And at times, I was deemed unresponsive when mails supposedly addressed to me went unanswered. And these are all the instances, where I actually got to know about this and explain the situation. I’ll perhaps never get to know how many people hate me for ignoring their mails.My namesake perhaps doesn’t check his mail quite often. And when he does, he has every reason to get irritated! The first time I got to meet him, he expressed his irritation: More than a year after he graduated, he had suddenly started mails requesting him to complete specific questions in team assignments! Anyway, by the end of the first year, everybody knew that just for official school mails, I am “Amit A Bhatnagar”. The problem was mostly over, and I had already seen the worst of it.
Or so I thought! Recently, I appeared for an interview with one of my target companies. After the first round, some of my friends got invitation for the second round, but I didn’t. Instead, I got a message from the company’s travel agents to book my flights (which I guess was for the second round) When I contacted them, I got to know that I had indeed made it to the second round, but perhaps, the HR lady, while sending out the invites, followed the regular firstname_lastname format for all the Emory guys, and hence missed my actual mail ID. Anyway, I booked my flight and got ready for the interview. At the pre-interview breakfast, we had an introduction session, where each of us had to share some elementary information and a “fun-fact” about oneself. I couldn’t think of a better fun fact than this, and everyone had a good laugh at my situation! But more was to come: the fun-fact for the girl sitting next to me! Believe it or not! Her husband’s name is “Amit Bhatnagar” (Yes, a third one!) and people in the common interview invite list were thinking that both of them were appearing for the same interview! Now, this was really unbelievable, and had it not been a formal interview session, I would have thought that she is making it up! (As an aside, her husband turned out to be a good friend of my brother-in-law and an “orkut friend” of mine, whom I had added six years back, just because I found someone sharing my name! Small world indeed!) By the way, do I even need to add where did the email for the offer letter go, once I cleared the decision round? I am sure you must have guessed that!
So, dear readers, when it’s time to find a name for your kids, think about my story twice and don’t go by popular superstars’ names (I am assuming the commonality of Amit in our generation is thanks to Mr. Bachchan’s popularity in the seventies and eighties). Try finding names in other languages maybe. (I suggested a Japanese name for my niece)
Do you have any such experiences with your name or other common names? Do share such stories in your comments. Maybe that will help me feel better