What’s in a name? Plenty, it appears
I happened to be in Singapore the other day and met some chums over a tipple at the top of the Marina Bay Sands. With the city's investment banking business not having had the most sparkling run of late, finding company was easy enough — and that's what misery loves, I'm told.
My friends’ imposed idleness reminded me of the charmed life I led as a banker in my heyday, when you felt you'd done a full day's work if you managed to remember your office address after lunch.
In our group was a gentleman I didn’t know too well — a friend of a friend. He'd done stints from the Middle East to New Zealand, and the conversation came around to cultural differences.
As he regaled us with unlikely stories of his global adventures, I couldn’t resist throwing in a few anecdotes of my own. I of course apologised to him for the interruptions, addressing him by his name to sound more sincere.
Now, I consider my accent to be excellent — perfect Queen's English, no matter what language I'm speaking. But despite this skill I apparently mispronounced his name, and it ended up sounding like a minor insult. After an eternal moment of uncomfortable silence, he corrected me through gritted teeth.
I am expert at defusing a situation, so I reminded him: "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet".
Sadly my literary reference didn't work as well as I'd hoped, providing just another example of cultural difference. I looked across the Marina Bay's pool and considered jumping in, and then perhaps over the side. But, inspired by the water, I quickly suggested making my drinks tab as infinite as the pool. All was quickly forgotten.