How I Got My Name

Jumping straight to the conclusion, my name is a real example of the Indonesians’ love of abbreviations. Something, by the way, which I have recently learned in my to-date 1.5-years of living in Indonesia. Not a wealth of experience you might say, but it is all I have (if you discount the 7 years of childhood of which I remember nothing except for blurry images that may actually be re-enactments of what people have told me).

So, who chose it, and why? Uhm, I’m assuming here that my parents gave it to me instead of some random bum off the street. Covered in blood, eyes wide shut, and very much naked, I wasn’t really in a strong negotiating position. As to the why, I only hope nothing but best wishes and awesome parental love were the main factor.

The first part, Asti, is apparently the abbreviations from my father’s name (A. Asra) and my mother’s name (Ningti B. A.) Funnily enough however, Asti is actually a very common name in Indonesia! So much so, in fact, that during my highschool years in the Philippines, there were 3 Astis out of the total 5 Indonesians in the whole school! And so there I was looking like a complete idiot every time I asked my friend if they had seen Asti, only to have them reply “Uuuh, yes.. You?”

On the plus side, there is a whole Italian town (complete with a coat-of-arms and all) and sparkling wine (naturally, everything I touch has to sparkle) named after yours truly.

The middle part? Nuraini. (Could actually be spelled Nur aini, or Nur’aini.. but verifying it would mean looking for the actual birth certificate, and that is just asking too much at this time of the night!). It is of Arabic origin, and speaks of my Moslem heritage. “Light of My Eyes.” No complaints there, but you’d have to double-check with my parents if I actually lived up to it 🙂

The last part? Asra. Technically, “Asra” is not in my birth certificate. However, years of living abroad have forced my family to adopt a common last names simply for easing the paperwork process, (for the uninitiated, the concept of last names is not common in Indonesia and therefore it is very common for a whole family to have different “last names”)… which ended up being Asra as it is my dad’s “last name” — strictly in the sense that it is the last name in his full name, and not that it’s his family last name. My passports, university certificates, ID cards, credit cards, etc all uses Asra.

And, here’s the kicker, Asra is actually an abbreviation too! From his parents, my Dad only had one name (again, a common practice in Indonesia). However, as he was born in a remote village, government administration had not reached there yet and therefore he only made his birth certificate when he attended highschool in Jakarta. Not content with his one name, he added Asra as an abbreviation for A: Abuzar (his own first name), S: Scorpio (his Zodiac sign), R: Rahmah (his mother’s name), A: Abubakar (his father’s name).

Voila! You’ve got me! Abbreviated, Arabic and all.

[Bonus story: While my birth certificate has my name sans my Dad’s, my sister’s name in her birth certificate actually has my Dad’s full name… as in, his first name and last name. She was born in Australia, where they required a last name of “Asra”, to which my Dad objected as it is only a made-up abbreviation. His request to use his first name (i.e. his “real” name) as her last name was a no-go too. The compromise? Put his full name in the birth certificate. See, even from birth, my sister already required negotiations and agreements of a global nature. My sister, the confused TCK from the get-go.]

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Gah, you’re not the only one. I got my first name “ridho” from my mom “meiry” and my dad “yudho”. see? see?!


    • Posted by asti on April 2, 2011 at 9:41 am

      Phew, good to know me and my family are not the only ones — one of my cousin’s named Nadandi, and I’m told it stands for “Lina” “dan” “Yudi“. I mean, the word “dan” (Indo for “and) is even included!

      …at least yours have the added benefit of being an abbreviation, but having an actual Islamic meaning too.


  2. Nope. You’re certainly not the only ones. I have a friend whose name is quite unique (I think he’s the only Indonesian with that name) and it turns out his name is also the result of abbreviation. I can’t write it here but it’s quite hilarious! 😀

    I think I’ve told you this, but my full name is quite long, 6 words in total. The embassy had to put “see page 5” on my passport for my full name 😛 Arabs need to include father’s name, grandfather’s name, and family name; hence my 6 word full name 😛


    • OK, now you just made me curious about his name. Tell me! 😀

      Girl, why do you make things so complicated for yourself? 6 names?! So how do you fill in those notoriously-tiny (dis)embarkation forms? Do you just put your first and last (6th?) name then? Maybe the Indonesians should teach the Arabs a thing or two about abbreviations 😀


      • I sent you an email already 😛

        Well, the Arabs forced me to have 6 names -__- It’s required coz I was born there. The Saudi immigration card always have the boxes to put those names. But other than that, I just use 2 or 3 out of 6 names 😛

  3. Hey asti.. salam kenal juga..
    and yeah the abbreviated name thing. mine is like that too somewhat. well when mom was pregnant with me, dad wanted a boy, so he had only boy names for me. but then i came out and whaddayanow, i had a vagina! not exactly what he wanted but second best lah. his name is amir, so having no girl names he just used his name and turned it backwards and rima was born. then comes my second name, geofary. my dad is a geologist so naturally geo is from his love of the profession and then fary is from his family name (fauzi) and mom’s first name (cherry). So since I am the first child, and when I was born they thought the world (greek: geo) were theirs (dunia fauzi dan cherry = geofary) that is where I actually got my name from. A whole lot of mush, menye menye and their love of abbreviation.
    i hope that was as amusing to you as it is for me. 😉


    • Great story, thanks for sharing! 🙂

      It’s nice to know my parents aren’t the only ones that got infected with abbreviation-ism. Even worse, my sister’s name is “Asri”. It’s not an abbreviation by itself, but it was chosen simply because it’s similar to my name “Asti.” So add “rhyming names” to the list of things Indonesians love. I wonder if the trend continues to today’s generation too.


  4. Hi Asti, I am from the Philippines. You did say you went to high school in the Philippines. In Philippine history, I learned that Filipinos prior to arrival of the Spaniards (of course they were not identified as Filipinos then) only had one names too. Years later the Spanish government decreed that everyone should take on a last name which explains why most Filipinos have Spanish sounding last names. Nice meeting you here!


    • Hi Ramon! or should I say “Mabuhay”? 🙂 I went to middle and highschool in Manila, so I lived there for about 5 years but my parents were actually there for 11 years!

      …but I wasn’t aware of this lil historical fact. I thought that the last names were always there, but was Spanish-fied (?) through marriages and gradual adjustment as the cultures merge. I guess this adds to the similarities between Indonesia and the Philippines!

      Thanks for stopping by, and hope to see you here again 🙂 Salamat po!


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