Living as an expat in a land that uses a jumble of different languages presents particular challenges. One of the biggest is making ourselves understood to each other. I realised shortly after arriving that I would probably not become fluent in Arabic, let alone Urdu or Pashto. But that was the least of my worries - I could not get a taxi driver to turn where I wanted him to for the life of me. Weeks of frustration later, I learned that "turn right" means nothing; "signal right" means everything.
And so it is with my name. Barely anyone can understand what I am saying. And hey, I get it. I am challenged by loads of the names here. So last week, in an effort to ease the process, I decided to go with just "Ann". Hilarity has ensued. It seems, particularly among people from the Philippines, that "Ann" is even harder to understand than "Ann Marie".
This was about the third conversation, when booking my spot in a yoga class last week, and the point when I decided I needed another method of making myself understood.
Staffer: What is your good name please ma'am?
Me: No, Aaaahn.
Me: No, ah, ah, Ann.
Her: I am sorry ma'am, Em?
Her: Ah, yes, Mary. Thank you ma'am!