When one leaves Iran, he or she faces a large number of challenges when leaving the warm and trusted home environment and entering the wild, strange, unsure scene of the “Abroad”, or as we say it “Kharej”. To just name a few challenges to be overcome:
The list can go on for ever and every single person who has left Iran has a list with different top 10.
But one challenge that at least I have faced, and I’m sure many others would have experienced like me, is the challenge of my Name.
After living for almost 22 years outside Iran, still saying my name and introducing myself to foreign audience is a challenge for me. Well, to be honest, it’s more than challenging, I’m actually fed up with my name. And to us, Iranians, I haven’t even got a very difficult name, but I’m still not comfortable with it.
OK, by now you of course wonder what the hell is this guy’s name??
Well, my name is Homayun Mohasel Zadeh, as it is in my passport.
So, let’s analyze this name first among Iranian names.
Well, I think in whole Iran there are only a hand full of people having this strange name: my father and his brothers and my half brother…that’s it.
But this is even for us Iranians is an odd name isn’t it?? Have you ever met someone with such a surname?? I mean I even have problems introducing myself to my fellow Iranians. Whenever I introduce myself they go:
“what, MoaseNzade, MohseNzadeh??”
And then by the look on their faces I figure they are telling to themselves “what a strange name…”.
So here you go..
But then the problems really got started when I left Iran.
For some reason, when I moved to the Netherlands, long time ago, the translator who spelled my name, spelled Homayoon as Homayun, which is a very odd spelling. Even for Dutch language one would have written it as Homajoen. So there you go the very first seeds are being planted…
But then they and by they I’m referring to Dutch authorities, put a space between Mohasel and Zadeh for some reason, which I don’t know why! So now my last name has become two, which is very frustrating.
So where ever I go and have to fill in a form they ask:
“ is Mohasel your middle name?”
“is it your last name”
“Is Zadeh your last name?”
“partly, my last name is supposed to be Mohaselzadeh, without a space”
So why is there a space”
”I don’t know”….
So this goes on and on and on for ever and doesn’t stop!
And then there is the problem of each time spelling it, being in a store ordering something, or on the phone, etc.…
I have just memorized it:
H O M A Y U N - M O H A S E L – Z A D E H
Have you been in a situation, in a meeting at work, where they go round the table and every one get to introduce himself?? Well I hate that and in that situations I usually just introduce myself as Homayun or Mohasel and forget about the rest..
But the worst thing is when someone else wants to introduce my name, or call my name, like when you’re visiting a doctor. Oh man that’s just awful…
But as this was not enough, my wife and I were stupid enough to name our son Khashayar, which is a very nice name in Iran, but not here!! And this happened long time ago before I diagnosed myself with having this fear of name…
To make the matters worse, we spelled, I mean I, spelled my son’s name using the Dutch language and alphabet and I went against many others who advised me to spell his name as in English. But naive I was, I thought why? We are living in Holland, so why should I want to write his name like English?
You see, in Dutch the letter “G” is pronounced as “Kh”. And letter “A” that comes second in “Khashayar” is “AA”. But they don’t have a “SH” in Dutch. They have a combination of “SJ” which has a very soft “SH” pronunciation. It’s not a real “SH”, but still it’s the nearest to it. And the letter “Y” is “J”, like “Ja” for yes”.
So at the end, my son’s name got this spelling:
But now the nightmare came true. We moved for my work to US! And it’s very unlikely to ever go back to Holland. So now my poor son is facing a yet worse problem than mine!!! I mean just look at his name in English…That’s just awful, isn’t it…and it’s the way it is in his passport. I mean for ever…
I have long thought about of changing my name. Changing my last name and adapting a new western first name. When I moved here in US, I met a lot of Iranian people who have chosen an English name. Like we met this guy, Ray, who’s real name is Reza. Or Hossein, who shorted it to Hossi. Or my best friend Shahin, who goes by Sean. Well that’s nice, I could shorten my name to Homy, but that’s not a name to call a 40 year old guy!!
And what about my last name? Changing the last name is a pain in the ass process, besides being too expensive in Netherlands…You have to have her majesty’s queen of Holland’s permission to change your name.
But would I want to change my name to some other odd Iranian name, but albeit easier name? It’s still strange name to westeners, isn’t it!! Would I want it to change it for example to Ahmadi? Certainly not as long as Ahmadinejad is in people’s minds. Would I want to change it for example to “Jafari”?? what about Hosseini?? Or Taghizadeh?? Definitely not, no Zade’s any more!!
The best Iranian name that I would consider is my mother’s maiden name, Attaran.
But if I ever want to go through the painful process of changing my last name, I want to change it to something western so that I solve our problem, and my son’s for good and ever.
But hey, let’s be honest, do I look like a “Van Brook” type person?? With my hairy chest, big nose, 1.72m, brown ey and curly hair??..I don’t look like a “Van Brook”. Typical Dutch people are blond, very tall (in fact they are the tallest in the world) and love cheese…
If I’d do that, I’d put myself and my family in a yet more miserable situation, wouldn’t I!!
But what if every one in this world would just simply have a number as his name?? I mean let’s ask yourself, everywhere we go, we are basically associated with a number:
And then when you’d enter a meeting, you’d go proudly and say:
“Hi, I’m 872390, pleased to meet you.”
And they go like:
“Hi, I’m 56348”.
And then you go:
“Oh is that you I have been emailing to?? It’s a real pleasure to meet you in person..”
Well, I guess this is just our fate (sarnevesht) isn’t it??