tcl stores pointers to structures in a hash table, and it uses strings to reference these structures. So in this case "nsdb0" references a long pointer that refers to the actual db handle structure. The same is true for the "t28" label which is used to look up the actual pointer to the corresponding ns_set structure. The hash table that is used to look up the values of "t28" and "nsdb0" corresponds to the local namespace. A seperate hash table is also maintained by the tcl interpreter for the global namespace.