The story then continues in Pi’s voice. He reflects on his name, which is Piscine Molitor Patel, and says that he was named after a swimming pool. Pi’s parents did not like water, but they had a family friend who was a former champion swimmer. This man was named Francis Adirubasamy, but Pi called him Mamaji, which is similar to “uncle.”
Martel immediately shows the connection between Francis Adirubasamy, the story’s initiator, and Pi himself. Pi’s unusual name also foreshadows his experiences with water – Piscine is the French word for “pool,” and in English it means “relating to fish or fishes.”
Mamaji and Pi became very close, and Mamaji taught Pi how to swim. Pi came to share Mamaji’s love for the water and for the meditative practice of swimming. Pi’s father never wanted to swim himself, but he came to idealize the world of swimming. Mamaji’s favorite pool in the world was the Piscine Molitor in Paris, which was clear, pristine, and perfect. Pi got his name from this swimming pool.
Pi has not named himself “Pi” yet in the story, but is still technically “Piscine.” Even at a young age Pi seems to have a slow, patient soul that finds swimming relaxing and peaceful. This looks forward to his religious devotion and contemplative inner life.