Last week I looked benignly at the lady on First Main in the RMV Dollars Colony as she stepped out in her nightgown with her mongrel on a leash. The two tended toward separate ways but her arm prevailed even as it shook. Still, the dog did his thing against her wishes, to which she barked to him in the calm and silence of morning: “Chee, chee, no, no! Not there! Cheee!” English is the language forced by Bangaloreans (and most urban Indians) upon their dogs. Come! Sit! Roll! No! Fetch! Two days ago, in the morning after a rainy night I heard another lady express her frustration to her dog: “What man, finish quickly! Where can I find a dry place for you today?” With the already bemused face of the mastiff and the body of some indeterminate breed he looked about for a place to end his suffering and gave up and sought to distract himself through staring at me and I returned a good hard look which had no effect. Later, during the same walk, I smiled as I passed the house behind my street where a little white expat girl commanded her Labrador to “Come here!” but the fellow dashed about, flashing his beige coat between a sedan and an SUV in their open garage.
Garbage at the end of the street in an elite neighbourhood in Bangalore
Today I am writing to complain. Regarding street dogs: On this morning’s walk, when I came to the top of the famous 80-feet Road, near where our Chief Minister lives, three strays came running up to me and one of them snapped at my shin and tore my track pants and bruised my leg, and when I shouted at the fellow he fled to the other side of the street and watched me sidelong. I looked at him two moments from my side of the street and accepted defeat and went on. Two hours later I took a tetanus shot and an anti-rabies shot and the doctor wrote for me a prescription of four more anti-rabies shots and another one of immunogloblin which costs 40,000 rupees. And antibiotics for five days, thrice daily.
I am asking myself if I am worthy of a shot which costs 40,000 rupees, and I haven’t an answer, so I won’t take it. “It is the only medicine with a 100% guarantee of safety,” the doctor told me, generous in her sympathy. “Patients want to go and shoot the dog when they hear this. You have a scratch only, even then you can’t say.”
I asked at the in-house pharmacy of the hospital how many anti-rabies shots sell in a day in their hospital. Two were sold today besides mine. That is their daily average as well. The shot is light—you feel only the press of the nurse’s firm hand, no more. But there’s the burden of inconvenience. I realise as I write that I feel no anger toward the dog, but I’m bristling with emotions against fellow Bangaloreans who dump garbage anywhere and lack both desire and initiative to keep their neighborhoods clean. Dogs come to town having smelt garbage from great distances, and when they find it they settle, and are thereafter sovereigns in their streets.
And a bite awaits the unfortunate one on his unlucky day.