Friday, November 23, 2007

What's in a Name, after all?

Yes, you might ask, "What's in a name, after all?". And you might be right most of the time. A rose by any other name will have thorns just as sharp. But, to a select few, it matters a lot. And what matters to them is not your name per se, but rather, how many alphabets are there in your name.

Questions like, "Why?", "Who?", and "What!!?", might pop into your head. Let me answer them. It all began when I decided to fly to Bangalore for my convocation. And I usually used to book my tickets online. It was a simple, no-nonsense site that gave me good fares and let me get on with the job quickly. All that changed last week. I entered my name, "Tarun R" and said go. But, no! I have an invalid name. An invalid name? Apparently there needs to be atleast "two characters" in my last name. Screw them I said. But any travel website I visited gave me this helpful tip. Your name is invalid. Really now, of all the stupid validations to put on a website, two characters in your name is a bit much. On top of that, the place where I enter "R" reads Last Name/Initial. Come now, can't my initial be just one character? Because of that little check, I decided to book my flights on the websites of the airlines themselves. But, even there, I was greeted by that tip. Sure, the R in my name stands for "Ramesh", my dad's name and I could have used that. But, my only photo ID proof is my driver's license and that says "Tarun R". If the names won't match, forget the boarding pass, the security won't even let me enter the airport. So, in the end the only airlines that tolerated my name were SpiceJet and IndiGo. That little stupidity cost the websites and the airlines Rs 8000.

Speaking of airline websites, one of the travel websites showed me a flight that had a really convenient time for my return journey. An Air Deccan flight. So, because of my intolerable name, I went to the Air Deccan website. I was met by this really loud screen of red, perhaps suggested by Vijay Mallya to cement his take-over of Deccan. Talk about bad taste. Moving on, I selected a one-way trip and entered the source as Bangalore. At this moment, I was greeted by a rather friendly message, "Error in function ClearAreaList. Error = undefined". So, there you have it. Perhaps this was because they hadn't tested this site on Firefox running on Linux. If so, their ineptitude just cost them Rs 4012. Talk about expensive stupidity!