Thursday, April 22, 2010

Naming a Dog

Naming a dog in India has always been racially discriminated affair. If the pet is a street dog (Pariah dog), it would be unanimously named Bhulu / Bhola / Kalu / Bagha / Pillu etc. But if the pet is a notch higher - say German Shephard, Dalmatian, Golden Retriever or even Pomeranian - nobody would dare to call it by a Indian name. Some violent, awe-inducing name would be decided upon - Tiger, Kaiser, Rocky, Devil, Bullet, Trigger and so on. I guess this is an unfortunate colonial hangover that most of the Indian dog-owners are yet to get over with.

My tryst with dogs and their names began in the south Calcutta apartment complex where I grew up. Flats were mainly occupied by middle-class families. Some of the wannabe snob families got themselves dogs, looking for status upgrades. Snowy, Suzie, Kimmy, Rummy were some of the names. Every afternoon, all of them would start barking, from different floors of the apartment. The vocal duel between Kimmy (german shepherd) and Snowy(pom) would serve as opening act for all primetime serials.

Later, Snowy's place was taken by Jhoru - my friend Paroma's dog. Jhoru was and still is a true son-of-the-soil. Armed with an Indian name, huge muscular body and a baritone bark, Jhoru was ever ready to take on the German Shepherd , albeit vocally. One of the witty residents called Jhoru-Kimmy's Woof-teri-ada a 'Jugalbandi'.

Rummy's dad --err, owner was born as a Bengali by mistake, and made conscious effort to uphold his British roots. Naming the dog was one such effort. Unfortunately, the Pomeranian gave away it's Bong traits very often. Take for example: One evening, the owner was making an STD Call (big deal those days, an STD connection was a status symbol). Rummy was constantly disturbing the owner by licking his face, tugging his slippers and what not. Owner politley asked Rummy to leave, in Queen's language - "Rummy, please leave me alone. Rummy, don't be a nuisance". Rummy won't budge. Owner finally got angry and shouted in Bangla - "Marbo Pode Ek Laathi!" (I'll kick your ass). And Voila! Rummy vanishes. Never again I found a dog who understood Bengali so well.

Few years back, I visited my friend Saubhik's ancestral home, in a tucked away village of Burdwan (not so tucked away anymore, now we'll get 3G coverage there) to attend Durga Puja. The property was made up several ancient mansions, manned by a lone caretaker. The caretaker had a companion black dog. "What's his name?" Caretaker replied with a deadpan face -"Nickname is Kalu. Good name is Rajeev."

Saubhik, later rented a house in Kolkata. His landlord owned a very irritating Pomeranian dog whose preferred way of expressing love towards a stranger was chewing on his/her fingers! Landlord's mom chose to christen the dog 'Mahesh'. Now, for bongs who can read Bengali (an endangered race), the name Mahesh bears special significance. Sharat Chandra Chatterjee (author of Devdas) once wrote a eponymous tragic short story, considered to be one of his bests. The story was about a poor muslim villager and his favourite pet bull. This bull was called 'Mahesh'.

Last Christmas I was at David's place (who is a close friend-of-friend-of-give and take a few more-my co-workers) along with a bunch of youngsters. David had two dogs - a Boxer hound called 'Dash' and a Dash hound called 'Boxer'. This Dash fellow (asshole - in David's words) has a bad habit of dry humping anyone and anything in vicinity, hence was confined elsewhere in the house. As we approached midnight, the smell of roasted pork slowly filled the air. Finally, it was Christmas Eve. Carols, Ales, puddings and cake flowed all around.

Someone suddenly shouted "Panni Ready Ayi!" ('Pig is ready' in Malayalam). All the other folks attacked the freshly prepared pork roast, me being left behind. After missing out on the roast I targeted the huge lump of mashed potato. Unfortunately, that bustard Dash also harboured similar intention and reached the bowl before me. All what I got was a majestic view of Dash slurping the bowl and wagging his tail with orgasmic vigor. Asshole.

My paternal family has a long history of dogs - not the elite breeds - the desi Bhulu and Pillu-s. The current pet Pomeranian of the house experienced drastic change of name. Originally called Philip, my uncle decolonized the name to 'Kutua' (from the bangal 'kutta'), now he's fondly called Kutu or Kute.

Naming a dog after someone has always been regarded as highest order of insult possible. I heard of two warring gentlemen in Burdwan town, Bhola-babu and Tapan-babu, who actually named their pets after each other. It was the 70's. Whenever Tapan-babu drove past Bhola-babu's house in his Yezdi bike, Bhola-babu called out his dog. The loyal creature also woofed back in reply.

And finally, the inspiration of this post. He would now be barking , jumping, somersaulting, tripping on his own chain and finally panting with unexplainable over-excitement. He is an Indian street dog, fondly called 'Hyper' by my friends. Having observed the dog for a few days, I can not think of a better name. Hyperactivity is the motto of this dog's life.

I don't have a pet. I love them, though. If I ever adopt one, I will make sure that it has a very normal name. And Indian, too. These were the few incidents involving names of dogs. Jotting down the events caused by action of dogs would need a fresh post.


March Hare said...

my aunt (who lives in toronto) owns a dog called dogendranath chatterjee. they felt that the dog should share the family surname too.
i rest my case. :P

Satraa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tapas said...

Ha ha ha nice one satra .. wat a tragedy.One of ma friend has two dogs a golden retriver and a pom and they are named as JACK and KALLIS WTF :D. But wat is the basic logic of this kind a naming convention, is it the STYLE statememt or Just to show the dam STATUS ?
well I cant accuse others for this as I my self had a golden retriver and I named him as Tommy.

geetika said...

The best part is that the dog becomes so much of a family member that we actually dont like when someone calls it a dog ;)
My pom is named bruno and if someone calls him a dog we say ex cuse me it has a name which u can respect :P LOLZZZ

sambits said...

Well @Satra there are many funny names which people do keep as a name for the pet such name is SAHEB (If u translate it to english from bengali it comes to be as SIR)...think about it..funny. But then its not written anywhere that dogs cannot share these type of names, so long live our bholus, pillus,tommys etcs etcs..... :)

Peripat(h)etic said...

hee hee! Loved the write-up...jhoru will be 'mighty'(ahem) proud, man!!! don't know if you remember, but jhoru's "good name" was Pepsi; it was only when he he refused to respond to that Anglicised/Americanised name, did we give him a name far more befitting to his nature. Thanks for such a warm and fuzzy piece!

Anirban said...

Amazing piece of work satraa.... i didn imagine tht ur intro with "Hyper" would result in this :P ... BTW my uncle had 2 german sheperds in kolkata....(lucky n jacky).... :P

Tzu Phi's Experiences said...

I enjoyed reading through the post and a few best parts were:
Marbo Pode Ek Laathi!" (I'll kick your ass), 'Kutua' etc.

The name Hyper is too good. I wonder who gave this name. :)

Satraa said...


Jacque/Kallis - owners must be cricket fanatics :)


You own a pooch too? :)


'Saheb' and 'Sir' is an amazing piece of observation :D Never thought of it.


Now that you told, I remember Jhoru was originally called Pepsi. I fully support Jhoru not responding to such a pansy name. Bagher bachcha.

@Tzu Phi

I guess it was Anirban who named him Hyper.

TapasDas said...

@ Satra .. Jacque/Kallis ownwer is a gal.. and the thing which amazes me is that SHE HATES CRICKET

Aditya said...

Just wanna write some random things which came to my mind (-:

1. When I was a kid I was afraid of 2 things, 2nd thing(s) was/were Dogs(of all kind, desi, biliti, markin, german, geyo,spanish,leri .. i mean all kinds) . Now I guess I'm comfortable with 'em as I'm kindda used to dogs. Cuz some of my friends ARE Dogs (you know few of 'em i guess, n undoubtedly you're one as well) and we call each other "Dawg" , I've dated couple of bitches, so you know...the fear is little gone

2. My dad is fond of dogs but hasnt got one yet because he's afraid of being dumped by mom after 27 years of their wonderful marriage life. I heard mom threatening my dad of leaving him if he thinks twice about getting a dog

3. Did I tell you about my Kaku who stays in Lake Town? ya Sukhendu kaku. When he didnt have his own apartment, then the place where he used to live at, was a flat-bari but on rent. Their neighbour was Bubai da who had a spanial dog called Ria. N that dog/bitch used to wear a Bindi(tip in bangla) of red color. I asked him about the reason behind such nomenclature, in answer to which he opened the baggage that he carries from his past dard-bhara relationship with a girl called Ria.

I still wonder whether a girl is being remembered by Dog or being insulted by a dog! I believe he cant answer this question either. But it's evident that, it's about the baggage that he still carries from his last relationship. So it's it's not only Gadhas who carries the baggages

4. Dogs have human-type relationship with us. Whenever I visit my Mashi's ( Rumki didi r ma, jei didi ke tui baje nojore dekhar chesta o korechilish :-|) mashi tells her dog(Kali, some fancy imported dog, but was named in total uttor-kolkata style) that "dada eshche to, dada !!dada !! Dum dum park er dada". Somehow Kali establishes a relationship with me n quit licking me and let's me in with a bhongima that "a'ite ma' bad, didnt realize you're one of us, cmon in now, u ppl dont visit us often so kindda missed out on ya dude ... ma bad "

5. We still bet on our opinion that "eta jodi thik na hoy, tahole amar naam e ekta kutta pushish", without considering how a dog's name would soound if it's Aditya/Satrajit/Tapodhir

6.Girls like being crowned as Bitches these days

7.Some ppl become dogs with an invisible belt on themselves after getting married or even being seen by some hottie(relative term) more than once

8."Kutte-kamine main tera khun pee jaunga" is still a not-cliched diaogue for scriptwrites on hero's lips, while addressing the bad dude in the film.

Aditya said...

n yeah forgot to add... a popular sex-postion comes 4m 'em. So we kindda owe 'em :P

Satraa said...


#3: that fellow needs counselling.

#4: kon didi bol to? thik mone porche na...

RBC said...

Like! Like! Superlike!
Mine are called Babulal and Putlibai. Both Indian Desi Kuttas.

Heathcliff said...

lekha bondho korechish keno , gandu?