All names have some logic or thinking that goes behind them. I have always wondered how the stray dogs in Mumbai have been named by the paanwala’s the boot-polishwala’s, the slum & street dwellers and other people in general. Here's how…
Arvind, the boot polishwala outside Eros theatre at Churchgate found it relatively simple to name his dogs. Whenever he acquired a new dog, he used to look up at the hoarding of the film running at Eros and name them likewise. So he had a Pretty when Pretty Woman was released, a James after the Bond, a Tipu after some Tipu Sultan movie and he also had an Hritik and an Amisha when Kaho Na Pyar Hai was released. Hritik Roshan wouldn’t have been too happy with this dark, huge, hulky and big-Moose like (duh!) namesake.
Speaking of Hritik, many dogs have been named by street dwellers after their favorite stars. So there are Madhuris, Raveenas, Karishmas and Manishas. Not to forget the odd Shahrukh and Salman. Haven’t come across an Aamir as yet.
The most common name for strays is definitely Kalu. See a black street dog, call out Kalu and nine out of ten times he should respond to you. With so many Kalu’s doing the rounds we have to add prefixes to them for us to recognize which Kalu are we talking about. So there is the Regalwala Kalu, the WIAA Kalu, the Strand Book Stall Kalu, the Ghetto Kalu and so on. Once on a mass immunization drive, I was noting down the names of the stray dogs and asked a man to tell me the name of the brown dog that I had just vaccinated against rabies. He said ‘Kalu’. “Lekin yeh toh ‘brown’ hai”. Kalu nam pad gaya saab, kya kare”.
Other common names are Rani and Raja, all majestic in their own right and of course Tiger. Some of the Tiger’s would be so un-Tiger like that you would wonder if they should have been called ‘Mouse’
Its weird how dogs have been named Puppy and continued to be called so even when they have become 10 years old and some are Buddhi making you wonder from what age were they called that.
Then there are some strays, which are named after their physical traits… The dog, which has a permanent limp, is Langda, the poor fellow who has lost his eye is Kania, the thin one is Sukri, the fat one is Jadya/Kaddu, the tall one is Lambu, the short one is Chotu and a dog with a nerval twitch which shakes all the time is Disco. There was a dog outside the Ghetto pub, which used to love eating tomatoes and was called Tamatar.
Have heard of many pets that have been named after the drinks that their masters guzzle. Thus pets have names like Gin, Brandy, Coffee, Whiskey, Tea and Tequila. Haven’t come across any Santra, Mosambi, Narangi and Daru on the streets as yet.
At WSD, we name many dogs such that we can easily correlate with the person/place where he/she was brought by/from. So we had a Bandra who was run over by a train at Bandra station, a Bhaji who had maggots and brought from a Bhaji gully and a host of them with our volunteer’s names.
And last but not the least, sometimes its very embarrassing when you mix up the dogs name with the master/caretaker. Trying to lure a dog that was reluctant to come out from under a taxi, I asked some one “Iska naam kya hai”. "Vinod" came the reply. And I went on Vinod… Vinod …Vinod till I heard a man who dragged the dog out say in an angry tone, "Woh mazaak kar raha hai. Vinod mera naam hai”