If my mother were to be alive at the time I got married, I’m not sure she would have been too happy that I was marrying someone named Pinky. At the least, she would have insisted that we call Priyanka by another name.

The reason for this is that for my mother, the “default Pinky” was her friend Girija’s dachshund. Now I might have told you about “default names” – basically for every name, there is one person with the name who you instinctively think of. While the default person attached to a name can change over time, at any point of time there is only one default.

And because of this, when I know nothing about a person apart from his/her name, I form a Bayesian prior image which reflects that of the default person with the same name. And I assume this is true of a lot of people – you judge other people by their names in the absence of other information.

So considering that my mother was my mother, and so also followed the practice of judging people from her corpus of “default names”, she wouldn’t have wanted a daughter-in-law who had a nickname which defaulted to a dog, even if it were a rather friendly dachshund.

Anyway, this is not what the post is about. So while Pinky was Girija aunty’s longstanding pet, she wasn’t her only dog. Periodically she would take in some other dogs, though none of them lasted anywhere as long as Pinky did (I don’t ever remember meeting any of the other dogs more than once). However, one of them is hard to forget.

He was an Indian pie-dog named Chiltu. He was quite young, but thanks to his breed, he already towered over Pinky. So it turned out that whenever they were fed, Chiltu would finish off his portion much before Pinky ate hers, and then he would go for Pinky’s food as well.

Now don’t ask me why I remember this. But I remember telling this story to “my Pinky” a few years back when I had finished eating some rather tasty food much quicker than her. And I remember telling her that day that I would “do a Chiltu” – which is basically to go after Pinky’s food once I had finished my own food.

And that name has stuck. Every time one of us beats the other to eating something tasty, and then goes for the other’s portion, we simply say “Chiltu”.

My mother is long gone. Girija aunty has been gone for longer. Girija aunty’s dog Pinky has been gone for even longer. And Chiltu didn’t live with her for too long. But then Chiltu’s name, eternally associated with this practice, lives on!

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