What’s in A Name


“Manoosha Tatatonga? Did I say that right?”

“Yeah that’s close! It’s actually Manisha Ratakonda!”

(Muh-NEE shuh Rat–a–KON-duh)

The above is a routine conversation that takes place between a stranger and me at least once a week. I’m not very good with first impressions as it is, but somehow, having a weird name makes introducing myself to strangers much worse. Be­fore I even begin talking to someone, I anticipate the dreaded question, “what’s your name?” Upon recently meeting a teacher for the first time, our actual conversation went:

“Hi, how are you?”


Followed by a few seconds of uncomfortable silence as it slowly dawned on me that the teach­er simply hadn’t asked me for my name.

This wasn’t the only instance though; a similar conversation with a Starbucks barista went:

“Hi! What can I get you?”

“Manisha…oh sorry, that’s my name, not my order.”

Which was followed by a mutual cringe. But hey, it’s not my fault for being nervous and un­comfortable, I mean Starbucks is notorious for messing up people’s names. This is why the ma­jority of the time I go there, I attempt to create a new, simpler name for myself. The go-to is usu­ally Maya: easy and believable. Yet when it’s my turn to order, I always freeze and end up blowing my cover by blurting out my real name.

Sharpie in hand, the barista always asks (and I don’t blame them), “how do you spell that?”

I have to say it with a specific rhythm–slow enough for them to understand me, but fast enough for me to get it over with. If you watch closely, you can see the barista’s hand tremble while they speedily copy down my name.

I think the reason my parents didn’t give me a middle name is because they simply couldn’t fit it in. But maybe if I had a middle name, my initials wouldn’t be so terrible? I mean anything would beat having the initials “MR.” Yeah, like Mr. And, to make matters worse, the first three letters of my name are “Man”…. case rested.

But, in addition to all of the consequential difficulties, having a weird, unique, complicated name can be beneficial. The lack of “Manishas” at Hockaday and possibly a 10-mile radius of the school makes it impossible for someone to ask “wait, which Manisha?”Having a weird name makes you unique and memorable. After some­one asks you to repeat your name a few times, there is almost no way she can forget who you are. And, you get to be part of the rare-name club, the super exclusive group of people who share the uniqueness of their names.

Plus, since I have an uncommon name, I can pull a Beyoncé and just sign my first name on everything, AND, I have the career option/po­tential to become a rapper, with my rapper name being “Young Money-sha.” Swag on.

  • Manisha Ratakonda