Wednesday, 10 October 2007


Me and S went to a restaurant the other day and arrived just before Iftar. I acknowledged the manager who I’d known in another capacity several years ago. He greeted me by name but all I could manage was ‘Alright mate?’ After we sat down I tried first to run through all the typical Bengali names but nothing rang any bells: Ahmed, Abul, Abdul, Ali, Albert…

Cunningly I called one of the waiters over:
“What’s your boss’s name?” I asked, pointing him out at the bar.
“I don’t know but will find,” he replied with a conspiratorial grin. He returned about five minutes later with a double conspiratorial grin (but no food):
“His name YAKVADAD.”
“What? I’m sure he wasn’t called that when I knew him, how do you spell it?”

Eventually I found out his actual name and learnt a salutary lesson: When you forget someone’s name don’t ask one of his employees that doesn’t speak very good English.

Talking of names, S noticed the other day that the pool of names seems to be getting smaller. We both have ‘best’ friends with the same name even though they are different sexes. My son shares a name with one of the blokes renting my flat and so on. Maybe it’s time to do that seventies thing again where people started to make up names like ‘Sky’. The new ones could reflect the zeitgeist: Bluetongue, Baghdad, Eco, WMD, Suicidebomber, Microsoft or even Zeitgeist.

That wouldn’t work in Switzerland mind you. Apparently, you can’t call your kid anything weird as all names have to be from an approved list. That’s probably why they’re a bunch of boring squares who never have wars and have a high standard of living.

No comments: