For those of you who know my name, you’d agree that it is a fairly common name. The one thing that stood apart however, was my last name, or surname, which was pretty much unheard of in the small town in UP that I’m from. Additionally, even folks from my own community did not choose this surname, unless they were living up north – which is when they, like my father, chose it purely out of convenience and ease of spelling. And also to make an attempt to save their actual surname (their father’s name) from getting butchered more than it already had been in the past.
Anyhow, when I created my first mail id back in 2000, I was – in my defense – not even an adult, which is why the id included all the cliches in the world of email ids of yore. It had my name, shortened to an abbreviation no one ever called me by, was followed by an underscore – something that I hadn’t even heard of until then. And ofcourse, it also included my year of birth because displaying one’s age isn’t as big an issue for a 17 year old. And I lived with this for almost 4 years.
Which is when, Gmail arrived. I remember how you had to be invited to get an id, and when I got mine, I was pretty clear what I wanted as my id – myname.mysurname. One because I was no longer 17, and two because this would go on my CV for placements for the next year. And fortunately, I got it immediately. But then came the twist.
With the www the world itself widened, and all of a sudden I knew, or atleast knew of a lot more people, many with my name, many more with my surname, and lastly, quite a few with both. How do I know this? Well. Turns out, that when the gmail invites were going out – many of them were too young to either have an email id, or not lucky enough to have 24 hour internet in their rooms to create one. So while I did get my amazing firstname.lastname id, I also got curses from the others who missed it.
And these people, I assume to get back at me, to generally use my id to register on the randomest websites, even if that would technically mean they cannot verify the id. Or, even give away my id to – get this – their insurance companies, friends they meet at NASA conventions, or in general anybody.
Which is also why I get reset password prompts for multiple sites, none of which I have registered on to actually need to reset my password, all the time. And today, when I go to see if I have a Microsoft account, I apparently do – only, after resetting the password and getting in, I realise it belongs to someone else, from Kolkata, born 9 years after I was. And yes, I also get regular updates from the Kotak guys on the balance in my insurance account which I don’t have. And updates from the multiple communities I am part of, only I didn’t know.
My favorite story is from when a whole family sent me mail after mail, congratulating me on my engagement to this guy I didn’t know. This got fixed, when the guy himself started sending photographs of his family and detailed accounts of who was who. This was when I let him know that I was the wrong person. He was quite polite, and apologised, and passed on the message to all the mamas and mamis and thathas . But even then, it took almost a year for all of them to stop mailing me blessings. And fortunately for them, I was too good to send them my bank account details for some monetary blessings instead.
On second thoughts maybe I should I have. For my name’s sake.