Surprise Potgieter is a PR professional working in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: I was browsing through my emails this morning when I came across an invitation to a meeting with the founding family of a 150-year-old Italian coffee brand. The invitation said the fifth and sixth generation representatives of the historic Barbara Café were in town to participate in the Gulf Food exhbition in Dubai.

The pitch - to discuss the cultural aspects of coffee with the father-and-son duo Enrico and Elio Barbara - seemed promising. Oddly enough, what I also found intriguing was the name of the PR professional who had sent out the mail.

I read the name, smiled to myself, and re-read it. A fleeting thought ran through my mind. Someday, perhaps, it would be interesting to speak to the person carrying the name, I told myself.

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Moving on to other emails, I went about my daily grind. When I was just setting out to the office, I received a call. Believe it or not, it happened to be from the same person who had sent out the email.

“This is Surprise,” she said, living up to every bit of her name. And had I not seen her email earlier, I would have excused myself for wondering if I had missed an article in her statement.

Well, the fact is, Surprise Potgieter took me completely by surprise. It was almost as if the universe had read my mind and conspired to make this call happen.

I could hardly hold my curiosity now.

Having confessed to her that she was on my mind a couple of hours earlier, I jumped to the question that I was dying to ask: What was the story behind her name?

She seem unfazed, understanding even. She said it was her mother, like in most of our cases, who had given her the name. And any particular reason? “Well, my mum told me that I was prematurely born. I have argued with her saying that that hardly justified my name, but she has stood her ground. In fact, she just loves the name. And over time, I have also come to terms with it,” said Surprise.

The 34 year old, who hails from South Africa, said she was so used to people wondering what’s with her name.

“But back home, we do have some novel names. In fact, I come from a family of four children and my younger brother is called Gift. We also know someone whose name is Entourage,” she said.

As christening goes, we come across a number of situations: People named after their native places, their families, their ancestors, their - or rather their parents’ - idols, or even their accomplishments. There are long lists of baby names inspired by Nature, the elements, objects, even food items.

We also come across people with emotive names and nick-names like Joy, Happy, Lucky and so on.

Now, we know a Surprise too.