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.
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