Isis Singh, a 28-year-old woman born to a Punjabi Hindu family in Delhi, has a first name that is about as rare as her surname is common. Her family named her “Isis” after the Egyptian goddess of fertility and womanhood.
So, in October 2015, when Singh saw her first name splashed across television news shows in upper-case letters, she was confused. She soon learnt that the channels were using “ISIS” to refer to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria: a violent extremist organisation that had beheaded a group of Christians in Syria who refused to convert to Islam.
Things soon started changing for Singh. Friends joked about how she was wreaking havoc around the world. Some of her colleagues teased her about her name, once even pasting a cutout from a magazine story about ISIS on her desk. Singh told me that nowadays, people sometimes ask her if she is considering changing her name.