What’s in a name :-)

by, Avinash Gujral 

How many names a person can be given? We, Indians, especially North Indians, are generally given two names each. One is the official name, which like a silken dress, is used very sparingly. It may be used only on official documents like testimonials, passports or Aadhaar cards, etc. The second one, the nickname or the pet name, given endearingly to everyone in childhood sticks to him/her all through life. Thus an old wrinkled lady past eighty may be referred to as “baby daadi”. But apart from these two, we have another habit of giving strange names to our acquaintances which we use in their absence or behind their back only. For example, a very strict man may be called ‘Hitler’ or a person having a lot of free time may be called ‘vehlarh (idler)’. During the depressive period of today, I often visit my happy childhood days, just to ward off the present worries. During one such rendezvous with childhood, I was reminded of two strange sobriquets given to two aunts—one was named as “lutro aunty” and the other “phus-phus auntie” I could not help laughing as I remembered the explanation given by my mother at that time for naming them so. The ‘Lutro’ title was given to that lady as she was often seen roaming about aimlessly. The other, “phus-phus auntie” had the habit of speaking in a whispering tone all the time. “Phusphusana फुसफुसाना” is a Hindi word that means speaking in a whispering tone. Hence, the title was given to her 🙂

Recently, when strangely titled films “Chhichhore” and “Fukre” became very popular, I started thinking about the directors of these films. I am sure, they were also brought up in families in which the habit of giving strange names to their friends and relatives was prevalent. 


  • Very nice
    Good suggestions

  • Rakhi Jain

    This brought a flood of memories. So many faces that we assigned such names to, conjured up in my mind. Names could be for anything, their habits, body type, gestures or quirks. Loved reading this. I feel it wound up too soon. Would have loved to read about a person who came to know about his/her strange name. Dil mange more.


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