There are some people who are really good with names - they can see a face and immediately know what to call it.
And then there are people like me.
Names have often proven to be the bane of my existence. And not just others' names, mind you - my own nickname has been a cause of trauma during my formative years, and no, I am not going to tell you what it is. Anyway, this is not about names that I would like to forget - it is about names that I forget to remember.
It happened again last week, at the tea & coffee machine in office, a place that I often tend to embarass myself.
I was sipping my tea dreamily and peacefully, when a girl with a familiar face came up to get a drink. Never one for small talk, I nevertheless thought it would be good to practice.
Girl (Smiling in a friendly manner) Hello.
Me: How've you been?
Girl: Good! Pretty good!
Me: Haven't seen you around lately, you been Travelling a lot?
Girl: Uhh..No...I've been coming here everyday for the last three weeks.
Me: Really? Well, I haven't seen you.
(Pause as we both sip and look around)
Me (To break the silence) Your hair looks great.
Girl (Pleased, but looks a bit uncertain): Thank you.
Me (Continuing to push it): You've grown it a lot, haven't you?
Girl: Uhhh - No..it's always been like this only..
Me (Now confident in the chatter, thinking this is going unusually well - I clearly know her better than she knows herself!) What are you saying! It was sooo short earlier (gesturing with hand above ear)
Girl (A little less friendly now): You're talking about someone else. I don't think you know me.
Me (Truly shocked by this twist in the tale): What? Aren't you Neha from Accounting?
Girl (A little icily, maybe she doesn't like Neha) No, I am not. I'm Asha, I work in Training. We met three months ago at the course in Bangalore.
Me (Trying to salvage the situation): Ohh..heh heh...this is a little embarassing. You really look like Neha though. Do you know Neha? Short hair like soooo ..(can't stop myself from gesturing again)
Girl (Bugged, clearly not flattered by the obvious resemblance): Yes,I know her.
Me (Trying to get out of this): Well, I'm Y and I am bad with names, as you might have guessed. Ha ha.
Girl (looking like she wants to throw her coffee on me): I know who you are. We've met before.
Me: Well, gotta go! It was nice seeing you again.... (Sudden wave of hopelessness)...What was your name again? I'm sorry...
Girl (Fiery hatred in her eyes) It's ASHA.
Me: Ok, bye....Asha! (Escaping into nearby bathroom, cautiously emerging only after I am sure she has gone)
Author's note: Please note that the names in this incident have been changed, to protect the identity of the characters - and also because I have subsequently forgotten them
But, in my defense, I would like to say that I know for a fact that this kind of thing happens to a lot of people. Take one of my best friends, Richa.
So Richa knows a lot of people, is one of those popular kinds. But one day, after having had a long conversation with a familiar faced fellow, she realised that she had no idea who he was. She could probably have managed to get away with it, but her curiosity got the better of her at the end of the conversation, and she thought she had cracked a really smart way to find out his name.
Richa (Super casual): So listen, yaar! Just tell me...I was having this argument with my sister...about the exact spelling of your name ....how do you spell it?
Stunned and embarassed silence all around.
I know how you feel, Richa. I know it.