I go to this lovely half jungle half landscaped park at the edge of Kalkaji for my morning jogs. That day, as I joined the dogs in their stretching routines before beginning my walk, suddenly my co-stretchers started growling. I tried to figure out their object of attention among the healthy patrons of the park, but couldn’t see anyone particular they might be displeased with. Humans are, after all, their co-habitants and overlords. There was a motley group of quasi-religious beggars who joined at this joint for a joint every morning. But they were even more rooted in that place than the right wing loyalists (i.e., the doggies).
Presently, the growling morphed into low intensity barking and a pack began to form. Looking in the general direction of their pointed noses, I found that the culprit was none other than a weakling of their own species. I say a weakling because she appeared as such – cowering with fear. Or maybe she was pretending to be afraid (body language we were told). All of a sudden, the pack of indigenous mongrels descended upon her. Mongrels of all hues – black, white, brown, grey, shades of those colours and colours that I don’t know names of – but all mosaics. Some barking, some yelping and some others just too excited to make a sound. Some stout, some emaciated, some lactating and some mere pups; but all pretending to own the planet. It was obvious from the scene that the cowering fellow was an outsider and this was a territorial dispute. As if Saddam Hussain had walked into New York Central Park and Bush & Co was re-enacting Abu Ghraib around him. Anyway, after due admonitions, threatful posturing and some passionate (and occasionally angry) appeals by the foreigner, the trespasser was unceremoniously driven out of the canine country via the no-dog’s land at the edge of park.
I was disappointed with the dogs. I really was! I have great regard for dogs (more for bitches), and place them higher in character than humans. But man’s xenophobic tendencies have somehow infected them. Where there are so many of them, why can’t they take in another who needs shelter? What would it take for her to become a member of the pack – mate with an existing member?
They say dogs are territorial. So are we. The difference is, that tendency resides in the genes of dogs, but in us it resides in our egos and balls. At least dogs have character! Oh how I wish the world were going to the dogs!
As I was walking back home, I saw two dogs sprawled attentively alongside the watchman inside the gates of a primary school. Another three were guarding a hundred metre stretch of road near my house. I thought, “Damn, these guys know their purpose in life!” I was jealous! I went back to securing my place as a cog on the wheel.