In Malaysia, the name Ernie is widely accepted as a female’s name while in the UK, Ernie is a short name for a male’s name, Ernest.
My first name is Ernie Melini and it was given by mother who creatively combined a female Indonesian artist, Ernie D’johan and a female Bollywood actor, Hema Malini. Hence, the combination made up Ernie Malini. However, my mother replaced the letter ‘a’ with ‘e’ so that Malini became Melini as she felt that Ernie Melini sounded better.
Among my family members, I am popularly known as Melini or shorter version Melin while among friends, I am called Ernie. Since the word Ernie started at the front, every time I introduced my full name, people will end up calling me Ernie as it is the easiest name to remember and some says that it is quite a catchy name (grinned).
Since I studied and later migrated in the UK, I have quite number of times encountered different experience with the English people and this experience I had are related to my name, Ernie.
There is one time I booked a taxi from home using my name ‘Ernie’. When the taxi arrived, as I was about to enter the car, the driver lowered down his window and said “Hold on a sec, what is your name, love?” I was like huh? “Oh, I’m Ernie” and I grinned at him. He apologised to me and explained that he was expecting a male passenger instead of a female passenger. I told him not to worry as I used to get this kind of response many times.
When I was studying in the UK Universities, I always received formal letters with the title ‘Mr’. And I had to contact the administration several times for the repetition mistake they made on my letters.
I also remember when I came in to register my attendance for postgraduate study in Norwich, the lady who attended to me laugh when she saw me. Again, the same comment was made by her-expecting a male student. I just rolled my eyes.
Sometimes, people would ask me “Do you mean Ernie as in E.R.N.I.E?” and I will get the about to laugh face from them.
I am not upset of being named Ernie. In fact, I feel lucky and thanked my mother of her creativity. Because of this name, I am blessed with interesting experience that makes me smile.