I have always had a bad memory for names and it’s even worse now I live somewhere where the names are not familiar and have no point of reference for me. Following a visit to Israel I telephoned the house that my Husband-To-Be was staying at and spoke to one of my now very good friends, I had met her and spent time with her only a week earlier but I called her Hagar, her name is Gali. No they are not similar in any way but the week I had been visiting Israel I had met a lot of H-T-B’s friend’s girlfriends and there was Hadas, Hagar, Gali, Tali, Michal and Michal. It was very confusing for someone who knew a host of Clares, Rachels, Sarahs and Helens. You would have thought 10 years on I would have got better. Not so. Of course I no longer call my friends by the wrong name but a couple of weeks I made what the French would call a faux pas, the Israelis call a fedeekha and what us Brits would call a balls up.
I was on my daily power walk (yes I am old and I don’t jog) and my phone rang. The name Noa came up. Noa is a very popular girls name here – not to be confused with Noah with a kh sound at the end which is a boy’s name. I don’t know anyone called Noa but she was saved in my phone and when I spoke to her it turned out she was one of the Mothers from the twins’ nursery inviting us all over for dinner. How lovely. I said great, made a note of the date and kept walking. A few day’s before the date I asked her to pick the twins from the nursery and I would get there as soon as poss with no. 1 son because I had double booked something. All good so far, she was sweet enough to deal with my two 3 year olds plus hers and a baby alone for half an hour. One hour in to our date I received a text message ‘are you on your way?’. I was so confused. I am here. What on earth. Oh bugger. I am at the wrong house with all my children and now how do I explain inviting ourselves over, asking for the favour and who on earth really invited us? Uh oh. I wondered why there was no sign of dinner.
To cut a very confusing story short Noa is the name of the girl whose house we had all invaded and the mother who had invited us was also Noa. Oops. I eventually explained the predicament and went to dinner at the other Noa’s house (whose daughter has the same name as my daughter) and all was well. Must remember people’s names, must remember people’s names.
Luckily my name also causes problems for Israelis. There is no ay sound in the Hebrew language so Katie is often pronounced Ketie or Kitty. As I am sure I have mentioned before, the Israelis love coffee shops. The local coffee shop is to an Israeli what the local pub is to a Brit. Many of the coffee shop chains have a name system whereby they call your name over the microphone when your order is ready. I have been called Hattie, Kaley, Kitty, Ettie and my personal favourite Titty. Yes someone called me Titty once. Go figure. Thank goodness for Katy Perry, I now say Katie, as in Perry.
At a meeting in the early days here a receptionist asked me (in English) who she should say was here and I said, its Katie. She promptly picked up the phone and said Skatie is here. My Brit friends still call me Skatie to this day. So you see it’s not just me mispronouncing, messing up, not remembering names but if everyone had pronounceable Anglo name I am sure I would fare a lot better – Chen is an old school friend of my husbands, pronounced Khhhhhhkhhhen. I really don’t stand a chance.
Is this just me or do any of you have the same problem?