Thursday, August 20, 2009


I've never come across so many breeds of cats and dogs back home, compared to my experience in the last one year here. By now, one would presume I must have got over my fear of the species, considering I've been under involuntary contact with an incredibly huge number of them in this residential complex.

Heading the list is a tiny brown-white dog that inhabits an apartment parallel to ours. Its family seems to consist of a large, plump lady and her equally stout husband, who only seem to venture out of their otherwise stagnant domestic existence to walk the former. The latter is the biggest bully I've ever come across. It scares the children playing nearby, the mailman doing his duty, the maintenance personnel on their way to and from work, any and every random passer-by, whether the latter have provoked it into any such retort or not. Most people aware of its existence usually check whether it's outdoors or not before they take the path leading to/from/beside the apartment. Which is often inconvenient, since it's a shortcut of sorts at certain times. At first, I couldn't believe it really possessed a voice loud enough to scare everyone in the way it seemed to, but my complacence was short-lived. We were on our way to the Shindes' place (our neighbours) and had stepped onto the path it usually haunted, without noticing the puny canine. The next moment, before I knew it, a series of high pitched barks had caused my heart to leap into my mouth while I ran for my life in the other direction. I never stopped to find out whether its bark was worse than its bite or not. I still want to live for a few more years !

K, of course, is daring in all the areas I'd rather he wouldn't and hopeless at the points I'd prefer him to be assertive. He keeps on taunting the dog (from a safe distance, of course) and hopes some miserable fate might befall the former some time soon, the choicest option being the loss of his barking powers. In which case I'm sure the children in the neighbourhood might be as relieved as we'd be, if not ten times more. They're always scared to death that their balls or frisbees or other sports paraphernalia might land near it, which would obviously occasion a sorry premature termination of their summer activities, at least until night, at which merciful hour it's usually ushered indoors by its owners. There are rules here to ensure that the pet is always kept on a leash so that it doesn't disrupt the normal routine of others, but I suppose you can't really complain to the rental office about a dog which deserves to be kept indoors because its bark is so awfully intimidating. In any case, children and pets here command as much attention as adult human beings, and even more, if I may say so. I mean, I've heard that even your neighbour can lodge a complaint with the local pet protection society or prevention of cruelty to animals committee or some such organisation if he/she notices you doing anything you shouln't be or not doing anything you should to your pets. It sounded scary to me, almost as if you're constantly under surveillance in your own home and not doing something because you feel it's the righ thing to do, but because society can impose penalties on you for not doing so. Whatever happened to the good old concept of conscience ?

The same goes for children, except that you dial 911 or the police for complaining about any injustice or cruelty towards them. One couple we were well acquainted with told us about a dreadful incident when a policeman suddenly turned up in their house one day and demanded to inspect the premises. All this was simply because the mother had been working in the garden at the back, the father was at office and the child, waking up from a nap and unable to locate his mother indoors, had gone down the back stairs and wandered into the front-yard of the house, unattended and crying. This policeman, who had unfortunately been strolling past at that very moment, accompanied the child indoors. The mother had returned by this time and been about to search for the child herself. Instead, she was faced with a volley of candid questions regarding where they slept, where the child slept, whether the child had a room to himself (which is apparently his legal right if he's over 2 years of age), whether the child had enough toys to play with, whether he went to school etc etc. The child himself, a sweet and intelligent if slightly precocious 4 year old, was even questioned as to whether he was physically abused or mistreated or forced to do anything he didn't want to do and other such stuff. After they finished relating the incident, we were as traumatised as the couple in question had then been. For heaven's sake, do they think we'd do unmentionable things to our own children ? Granted that there are a few cases (back home, there are quite a few) where children have been scarred for life by domestic abuse, pressures and mishaps, I'd still like to believe that that's not the case in general. By far, these are all exceptions and rare instances and however corrupt the world may seem to be nowadays, the bond between parents and their offspring still holds as sacred as it has been down the ages. And in any case, I always feel that it's better to have the proper laws in place to discourage exceptional cases of misdoing rather than bodily and universally impose them on people, which leaves them feeling that they should love and treat their children well because the law enforces them to rather than their own parental and societal instincts. Too much advancement can cause our undoing, as the incident narrated above may well illustrate.

These are sad times indeed, when you have to live in fear of your own pets and offspring, alive to the dangers of treading on their carefully cordoned-off territory and not being able to make use of the best arbiter of ethics and principles in our everyday words and actions : our conscience.


little boxes said...

I think this entire difference in the way children are brought up in the two countries reflects a very important sociological history of the countries and also has a strong undercurrent of culture.apart from that,i've never been able to bring myself to like dogs or cats :(

Suchismita said...

Brilliant post Gargi. But one word of advice for K, do not tease the dog from a distance. I have seen loads of dogs teased this way, some my own, and these dogs always remember. The day it can get a paw on you, it can get nasty. Just stay away, ok?

Abagale said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Casuarina said...

@ little boxes : That's definitely true, and my post is more about my wonder at the difference I perceive, rather than for cats and dogs, I love them, but from a safe distance ! :-)

@ Suchismita : Yup, I know, and that could be scary. But K's teasing is mostly harmless and more of a muttering invectives to me and any chance passer-by about the dog rather than any offensive bodily gesture whatsover ;-)

@ Abagale : Thanks for dropping by and taking the trouble to comment. It's ok, you needn't say much, just keep reading, and that'll be my reward ! :-)

Choco said...

Nice blog!
I know and have heard quite a lot about the importance given too children and pets in the west. But such scary things happen with both here in our country that I feel it is always better to be safe rather than sorry...
As for teasing that dog..They remember and hold both grudges and love. If he ever escapes he will either head straight to the person he loves the most outside of his home or to the one he dislikes the most. So your hubby better make amends :D

And thanks for your comment on my blog. Much appreciated :)


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