As I was loading old newspapers and advertisements into the ahi the other day, I caught a glance of a reklaam (advert) for a peculiarly named brand of whiskey, "Johannes Walker."
"That can't be," I said to myself, shaking my head. I took another look and realized that I was looking at an advertisement for the Scottish whiskey "Johnnie Walker."
My eyes, having scanned through many issues of Postimees, were just accustomed to seeing the j, o, h, and n, and assembling "Johannes" from them instead of what was actually written, you see.
As I have written previously, Estonia is the kind of country where, if you have a foreign name, it makes your life a bit more complicated. It's not that they are unfamiliar with English names, it's just that they are not used to guys ordering taxis using those names.
I recently asked a friend in Tartu named Stew what name he uses when he orders taxis. He confessed that his wife usually does the ordering, but when pressed he uses "Sten" just to make his life easier. Then there's the editor of Baltlantis, who I am pretty sure is not named Vello Vikerkaar. Surnames too get "estonianized" without one asking. If your family name is "Johnson" it is likely that you will be rendered "Johansson" at the Post Office.
When I order a taxi, I have settled on using the name "Juhani." I like this name. I have been informed that mostly Finns are named "Juhani", but that will help explain my subtle yet definitely foreign accent. I have also noticed that the people at the taxi call centers are nicer when you say your name is "Juhani" rather than "dzha-steen" or "joo-stin". If I used my English name they might switch immediately to English and charge me double. As Juhani, I can pass as an a põder (reindeer) of the Markku Peltola variety and pay the actual rate.
What I would like to know is what names you foreigners in Eesti have used to order a takso at midnight? This should be interesting. I am also interested in knowing what names Estonians use when they are abroad. Epp's name is so unique that there is no English-language variant to adopt. Her uncle Tiit, though, goes by "Tim" in England with good reason. And when we met with a friend named "Ahto" in New York recently, he proudly passed off his name as "Otto", you know, like that bus driver on The Simpsons.