Dogs as pets

This morning’s Times of India, under its regular column, “Last Word” quoted “ I dislike referring to them as dogs or my pets. This is because they are a part of me, my family and they share my every joy and sorrow. They understand me completely and there is such a big bond, such a rapport that I share with them that it moves me beyond words. Salman Khan on his two pet dogs, Myson and Myjaan, on his blog.”

Just two days ago a friend of mine came over to have lunch with us and to spend some time with us. We had not met for some time and I enquired about his son and daughter in law who were in Mumbai. He brought me up to date and told me that they have moved back to Pune with both of them getting good jobs here. He further told me that he was rather stumped with their life style as they have taken a very big loan and bought a three-bed room flat. On my expressing amazement, he continued that they now had two dogs and a dog handler who was needed to look after the dogs and so the two extra rooms were for the dogs and the handler. His daughter in law has grown up with dogs as pets in her maternal home, and she simply cannot be without dogs in her home!

We have four mongrels living in our housing society. They have adopted us and nothing that we do gets rid of them. Quite how they survive is anyone’s guess. They do not harm any body and bark at everything and any body strange coming into the society’s compound. Some Good Samaritan had taken them to the blue cross and got them neutered and I am told that this is a humane way of treating stray dogs. My query as to how they could be humanely made to shut up in the nights when they seem to take delight in non-stop barking for hours together, in concert with other stray dogs, is yet to be answered by the do gooding animal lovers.

I wonder if either Salman Khan or my friend’s daughter in law, can come up with some solution. I certainly intend asking the latter when I next meet her.

Time the great leveler.

Time is change, transformation, evolution…—Isaac L. Peretz

At 7.15 this morning, I received a phone call from a friend from my past. Someone that I had not seen for over ten years, but with whom I am in frequent telephone touch.

This friend PS, and his wife were the local guardians to our son Ranjan, when he was in boarding school for three years. Our son was practically like a son in their home as, every holiday and special occasion, he could be found in their home along with their own two sons and a daughter, all elder to our son.

PS wanted to know if I was awake and naturally I was curious! So, I asked him as to where he was calling from. He sheepishly said that he had just got off a plane at the Pune airport and was on his way to our home along with his son Satya. They just wanted to spend some time with us before they went off to Shirdi, a place of pilgrimage, and four hours’ drive from our place.

The three of us quickly got ready to receive them. When they finally arrived, it was to surprise us further as; their respective wives, one small child and two other elders, all members of the family accompanied them!

It was a great reunion for all of us, and particularly for Ranjan and Satya, as they had a lot to catch up with, Satya having gone off to the USA many years ago.

All of those present however were certain of one thing. If as individuals each had seen any one else in a neutral location, no recognition of each other could have taken place. Yes, time had taken its toll. PS had undergone by-pass surgery and become a grand father five times over. I had undergone revision to my replaced hips, Satya had got married and become a father, Ranjan had gone through a marriage and divorce and all the ladies were so much more elegant and charming in their parent and grand parent status.

Time the great leveler!

Hope For Peace!

There is a news item this morning in the web that a few Pakistani soldiers were killed while on a routine patrol of the LOC in Kashmir. The Pakistani official in charge of the sector however clarified that Indians were not responsible and some miscreants fired on the patrol and killed the soldiers. The Indian officer on the other hand also confirmed that both Pakistani and Indian forces engaged the miscreants who were trying to infiltrate into Kashmir.

This is the first time that I have come across such heartening news from the flash point between the two nations.

I am suddenly filled with hope that perhaps there now seems to be some hope for peace between the two.

The Japanese and IIT Patna, Bihar.

A newspaper report this morning says that the Japanese have regretted their inability to collaborate with the Indian Institutes of Technology to set up an Institute in Bihar. They are however prepared to collaborate with the Indians for one at Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

While the reason given has been that they are concerned about the poor law and order situation in Bihar, it is suspected that the real reason is their experience with Bihar in the past.

Some years ago, when Sri. Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar; a Japanese team had visited Bihar to study possible areas for business and educational tie-ups. After their visit, they had suggested to Sri Lalu Prasad Yadav that if they could be given six months time to rule Bihar, they could turn Bihar into another Japan. Sri Yadav told them in no uncertain terms that the proposal was ridiculous as if he was given just six days to rule Japan, he can turn Japan into another Bihar.

Losing a pet.

I have a friend, Prasad, in Australia who, like me is in retirement and quite addicted to the computer and browsing.

It is quite a story as to how we reestablished contact after forty years and though earlier on, we were not very close to each other, have become frequent communicators. We now communicate by email and also by skype phone fairly frequently and exchange ideas and information on a lot of things besides of course jokes!

Between 1965 and 1967, we were class-mates in a post graduate course. During this period, though we both share the same ethnic background, we did not become close friends. Late last year, an effort was made by some of our old class mates to organize a re-union of our class mates. Amazing work was done in locating almost all by the rule of six and the re union was a great success. Though neither Prasad nor I attended the re-union due to our own preoccupations, a number of us were able to get in touch with each other and come to know about us thanks to a yahoo group and exchange of mails as also a directory published and photographs shared after the re union.

It was during this period of getting back in touch with each other that, Prasad and I have reestablished contact and have become quite friendly.

Recently, I was unable to raise him on the skype phone and got quite worried. On querying him about the reason by email, he has responded that he was preoccupied with the final days with his dog who finally had to be put to rest. It has taken him and his family quite some time to come to grip with this loss.

This is not the first time that I have come across such grief over a pet. This is something that people who have never kept pets never seem to be able to understand. In my extended family of siblings and cousins, a lot of us have been brought up with dogs and some with cats also! Every time one of us loses a pet, condolence messages keep flooding the web on our various family groups and web sites.

It is extremely difficult to explain the attachment one develops with a pet at home. I am trying to use this blog to express my own understanding of this phenomenon.

I think that it is due to the inability of the pet to communicate to us like human beings can, that makes the relationships so deep. One makes the extra effort to establish a rapport with the animal which one does not with other human beings. The fact that the animal can not talk back to you or, is so dependant on one, brings out the best in one, I suppose. The sheer helplessness of the pet who has to put up with all the expectations of the master/mistress, does some inexplicable thing in the latter’s psyche that perhaps enables all positive emotions to come out instead of the mixture of negative and positive emotions that come out in interactions with humans.

I hope that Prasad reads this and responds with his own comments.

Can Road Accidents Supplement Family Planning?

Not a day goes by in any part of India, without the local press reporting some deaths due to accidents on local roads. Roughly 300 deaths per day are reported everyday from all over the country and it is expected to increase steadily with more vehicles coming on India’s roads. This has led some thinkers to give serious consideration to this method as a viable one to control India’s population and to suggest that such accidents must be encouraged by a series of measures by all government bodies and politicians.

As India begins to shine, it is blessed with the unchecked growth of vehicular population, two wheelers to massive big multi-wheeled semis, constantly jostling for space on limited road surfaces. Enterprising unemployed farmers have even come with a very functional vehicle called the Juggad, which need not be registered with the local RTO, as it is claimed to be for agricultural purposes. The same surface is used by vast hordes of pedestrians and animals too.

The use of roads by non-motorists is not restricted to just walking or cycling, but also to build shantytowns and places of worship. Sometimes, when a worthy personality is killed on one of these roads, a monument is also very likely to come up on the spot where the unfortunate incident took place. If the local heavy weight wants to make some money for his good friend the sculptor, he is likely to erect a statue of a national or regional leader in the middle of a convenient road, and to safeguard its future, get it inaugurated by a political heavyweight too. Seeing how desperate a problem India’s population is, the Central, State and Local governments, all cooperate with each other, in a rare instance of unity, in creating more pot holes than drivable roads, so that accidents can take place.

These developments effectively reduce the area available for vehicular traffic and cause accidents resulting in death or injury. If an accident does take place, and someone falls down injured on the road, no passerby is likely to take him to the nearest hospital as, he dreads the prospect of bureaucratic hassles and police harassment, when all that he wants to do is to be a good Samaritan. The victim is likely to die unattended.

Indians are notorious individualists. They brook no interference in their movements and resist all attempts to guide them to their own safety. It would appear that they have all been trained to be the Indian equivalent of suicide bombers. Instead of bombs, an Indian simply gets on to any handy vehicle and declares war on all that comes in his way. If the vehicle turns out to be a two-wheeler, he will shun the use of a helmet as being unsuited for the Indian climate with predictable results to himself and other similar helmet less riders.

As per statistics put out by the National Crime Records Bureau, India has just been declared runner up in the race to control population, through deaths arising out of road accidents. The winner as expected has been China. While China has actually reported a decrease in deaths due to road accidents from 98,738 in 2005 to 89,455 in 2006, India registered 98,254 and 105,725 respectively. If this trend continues, as it indeed is likely to, India should easily become the number one performer. India will not only become number one, it will also make substantial reduction to the national population. To speed up the process, it is suggested that India holds annual national championships between the states, to generate the maximum road accidents.

Apart from the largest state in size and population, Uttar Pradesh, which has to be number one in something, the three great states that lead in the prosperity ratings of the country, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, are the frontline players in this great game of population control through road deaths. Between the four of them, they account for almost 60% of all road deaths of India. The rest of the country, are not likely to take this affront lying down and will do everything possible to catch up with these upstarts.

It is rumored that, other countries battling with population control and not succeeding with their current strategies have sought specialized training by Indian experts on this technology.

What can officially be done to increase the death rate due to road accidents? Can a formal Manual of Operations be issued to all local authorities? Can special training programs be conducted to facilitators after identifying those who will be enthused in this laudable endeavor?