Tag Archives: Dogs

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A short note on the bulls and dogs of Bhubaneswar

I have long believed that one can predict the status of a city by looking at the condition of the dogs. The stray dog is the only creature that has managed to co-inhabit urban and rural spaces with humans.

Everytime I visit a new place, I keep an eye out for the stray dogs. I have had to encounter them on dark, lonely roads, holding my breath and ready to scram at a moment’s notice. I have also had groups of stray dogs wag their tails and jump up on me gleefully.

In the bits of Himachal Pradesh I have experienced, I found the stray dogs to be healthy, friendly and generally Instagram-ready. Goa too has a healthy population of stray dogs, but with a dark, evil side. The stray dogs of Goa (tired of all the noise, littering and EDM bullshit) have become a fearful lot that bark and chase away lonely trespassers, romantics on scooters, and harmless drunks such as myself.

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When in Bhubaneswar, I spend most of the day lazing in bed, watching trashy films on the television, waiting for the sun to set. Once Surya devata has retired for the day, I step out to gulp down Bhang from the friendly neighbourhood chhennawala, and look for the guy who sells pre-rolled joints for 20 bucks.

As a nocturnal being, I have to encounter stray dogs on a daily basis, stuttering home late into the night, or walking into a shady lane where a peddler has set up his humble empire.

The stray dogs of Bhubaneswar are friendly, cordial and mostly interested in matters pertaining to their own business. I have never been chased by stray dogs – whether I was walking, stumbling, rolling, or being dragged up.

I pin this down to two reasons. 1. Bhubaneswar mostly goes to sleep by 9 PM. Stray dogs have been given their time and space to exist, and they reciprocate the gesture by being nice to the entirety of the homo sapien specie.
The second reason could be attributed to a recent proliferation of Shirdi Sai Baba devotees in the city. Sai Baba temples have sprung up around the city, and unlike other gods, Sai Baba’s principles are relaxed, secular and attuned with 21st century ideals. As a Shirdi Sai Baba devotee, you needn’t fast on Mondays, consume only salt on Tuesday, and offer your small intestine on Wednesdays.

Shiridi Sai Baba’s emphasis on providing for needy humans and animals, and the many pictures of Sai Baba with dogs at his feet, seem to have had a lasting impact on the denizens of Bhubaneswar.

THE BULLS OF BHUBANESWAR

I have been surrounded by cows throughout my life. In fact, if I could somehow avoid the dung and the stench, I’d go so far as to state that cows are among my favourite animals on earth.
Of course, I am partially biased towards the Buffalo, for reasons both spirtitual as well as Rastafari. [Read my blog on my favouritest animal in the world – The Buffalo!]

But that doesn’t change the fact that I have grown up around the sights, smells and sounds of cows. Like the family who’d been alloted a government quarter below ours, and had generously brought along with them three cows and two calves.

Amidst the brouhaha and worshipping of cows, we have doled out a rather raw deal to the bulls of the nation. Those that come from a sturdy lineage are castrated and sent to farms to work as oxen. Those that aren’t sent to slog in harsh conditions are retained only for the purpose of procreation. And yet, in our cruel, capitalistic world, we have chosen to deny bulls even that final pleasure – choosing instead to artificially inseminate the finest bull semen into cows – rending the bulls of India practically jobless.

All over the country, bulls roam around homeless and desolate. They haunt obscure lanes, surviving only on the sympathy of Facebook photographers who add a watermark and pimp the photographs for personal glorification.

The Bulls of Bhubaneswar however, differ from their brethren around the nation. Owing partially to the predominant Shiva culture that presides in the city, bulls are worshipped, respected and well fed. There are shelters that only take in wounded and aged stray bulls, shopkeepers feed them an eclectic diet of fruit buns, bananas, and (on bad days) cheap laddoos.

 

The bulls of Bhubaneswar amble about merrily from street to street, colony to colony, helping the laymen of the city absolve themselves of their sins by feeding them a banana. They are healthy, agile and nimble (in case a BMC towing truck happens to pass by). Bhubaneswar is said to have more than 500 temples, and this has spun off quite well for the bulls. They are a cheerful, happy lot.

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And as I stumble back home, drunk on the sins of the night, the two of them stand on the roads looking at me from a distance. They perceive me as neither a friend nor an enemy. Just a co-inhabitor of the same planet.

As I close the gate to retire for the night, I catch the bull swatting flies away with its tail, a wide smile acroos his face.

Like the logo of a milk production company.

WHAT DO DOGS DO ON DIWALI ?

Riding a bike on Diwali night is like being in a video game. You’re riding on your bike on dark roads. There are psychedelic sounds and lights around you, changing with every turn on the road.

There are assholic children flinging crackers and you have to evade them. You have one life and limited health (with or without insurance).

Come Diwali, a certain type of moralistic messages creep up on your wall. Don’t pollute nature, think of the environment, etc etc. But what most people don’t realise is that it is really kids who do it. After a certain age, you outgrow it. You sit back and notice people, and write blogs about it.

I think it is a little hypocritical that after celebrating Diwali in the way we did, we suddenly turn all Baba Jogeshwar on kids and ask them to save the environment. I mean, how often have you seen 45 year old uncles jumping with joy after lighting a rocket?

Diwali brings out two broad categories of people. The DoIts (naughty children, annoying neighbours) and DontDoIts (generally elders, parents, and vegetarians other people). It’s like a Good Thought vs Monkey Mind thing going on inside your head. “Arey, let’s put the rocket sideways and send it inside the house so that it catches fire and the people inside roast to death”. And then there are the rest of the people who say “Are you stupid or what? You want to go to jail? Here, light these sparklers. Carefully go to the side.” The entire night of Diwali is spent swinging between the two sides.

It’s not like people don’t listen to their monkey minds. The news on the day after Diwali is replete with such adventure seekers. Someone who ties a bijli chain to the tail of a dog, creating a permanent rift between man and his best friend. I remember reading the news a few years ago of a few kids who bought crackers and were so enthusiastic about bursting them that they lit them then and there, causing a huge fire and the entire market blowing up in a grand Diwali that even Narakasura would approve of. So there will always be those guys. What does one do? Try stopping the guy and explaining about ozone layer hole, and he’ll tie it to your backside.

And every Diwali has these characters who blast bombs according to their character. The Hydrogen Bomb, Atom Bomb (Ten points to World Peace), Lakshmi Bomb.

Historically, I have been partial to some crackers. Some are just polluting and annoying. Like those Snake Bombs that would just light up and ash would come out like a snake. I want to meet the guy who invented that thing. Asshole is responsible for half the global warming we face today.

I had a few favourites. I wasn’t too much into rockets. I think they’re for kids who still are fascinated by the idea of sending something colorful into the sky. If I had to rank the top 3 crackers, the list would go like,

1. Atom Bomb : The Atom bomb is the gateway bomb. Tiny thing that’s rolled in green wool, the Atom bomb determines how the rest of your Diwalis are going to go. Master it, and you move on to greater things in life (like aforementioned burning neighbours). Screw it, and you’ll spend the rest of your life making circles with sparklers, discussing the Shah Rukh Khan film that released on the day.

2. Onion Bomb : The Onion Bomb actually looked like a garlic. White, tied together with rope, the bomb did not need any lighting. All you had to do was throw it forcefully, and it would explode. If you were into cricket, you could draw stumps on a wall, and run up and bowl with the bomb. If you had a Paul Adams action, well, good luck.

I used to carry the Onion Bombs with me. Everytime I noticed a hidden threat to the world, I took aim…

3. Gun : I know most of you will snigger, but that’s OK. Democracy. Peace, brother.

The effect that a gun has on a kid is difficult to put into words. Of course, it seems disturbing that a kid would run around killing imaginary people for three days in a year. But back then, that was the reason I waited for Diwali. Of course, everybody gets together and bursts crackers in the night, but that is too regulated. The real freedom was in the afternoon. When the elders are busy and you can speak around with your gun. I filled my pockets with the bullets – a spiral of red bindis filled with barud, rolled into the cardboard boxes.

I walked up and down, always on alert. For that assassin who would sneak up on me, and try to kidnap my lover. But little did he know I was armed. I would pretend to be talking to her, and suddenly, I turn around and point the gun at him. Ha! Gotcha, you piece of shit. BANG! BANG!!

Among the bombs that you see today, there will be the people who are bursting crackers in a civil manner. The regular ShakeYourInsides Bomb goes off, and you learn to jump every now and then, when suddenly some guy will light up a FuckAll Bomb. Things are going smooth when suddenlyBAMBAMBOOMBOOMBADAAMBOOMDHADAAMBOOM!!!
But the guys who have the worst time are dogs.

It’s like the entire country going into war once the sun has set. Dogs scamper from here to there, running to avoid an Atom Bomb, when Ramu lights up a Chinese Bomb, he runs right, and Rakesh is waiting with Mega Bomb. It must like a bad acid trip.

You think the day after Diwali, the stray dogs sit together and bitch about us? One of them goes up to the other and says, “Man, did you see that shit? I was sitting and suddenly these guys start attacking me. And the whole town does it. The whole fucking town.” “Yeah, I know. It’s insane. The next time we see that guy, I’ll give you a shout…”

And that is why, dear friend, that dog barks when you cross the road at 11 in the night. India has the largest number of rabies cases in the world, most of them from stray dogs. We kind of ask for it.

Dog may have been man’s best friend, but even friends carry grudges with them!