Pet aversions

We always prefer not to test the old proverb that barking dogs seldom bite.

With every advancement in our standard of living, we have to reckon with the downside of these very facilities which end up by adding to our problems. Take, for example, the cell phone. A dozen times a day we have to use it, calling a friend that one will not be at home at the suggested time. 

Not having the right change for small transactions can spoil the fun of casual shopping. The remedy of going out with a bagful of coins and small currency notes is seldom feasible. Equally avoidable is the generosity of asking the seller to keep the change.
Worst of all is accepting the offer of a peppermint in lieu of a rupee coin. “Will you accept my sweets when I have to pay you for my purchase next time?” No way. Very vexing is the neighbour who drops in just when you are about to dine. Every time you venture to go out, you must negotiate a truce with mobikes, two-wheelers and autos even to cross the street.

I am a regular at the local park at 4 pm. It is a lovely expanse off the main road, ideal for oldsters who have been advised to take some daily exercise; there are shrubs and trees, but nothing too dense, and low benches and ramparts for courting couples, and enough space for lads to play tennis-ball cricket. Of late, however, we have to share the park with a few stray dogs and vagrant eunuchs who pester single males for alms or offer to foretell their future. Romancing is also discouraged by prudish policemen who scare off young couples who come to the park seeking the privacy they lack at home.

We have to beware of one black dog that we call ‘Kalia’. He likes to lie down right in the middle of the narrow pathway round the park. But once or twice he barked ferociously when we passed him. We always prefer not to test the old proverb that barking dogs seldom bite. He may have a genetic trace of the Doberman, judging from the yellow patch on his haunch, a species known for fierceness in combat. Appeasing ‘Kalia’ is a major concern for us. We sometimes take a barfi or a bit of toast for him, but we cannot do that every day. Besides, we have to prevent the dog blackmailing us every time we go to the park.  

Once, when Kalia shot out of a bush to trail us, we called out to a seated youth to save us. His intervention was effective, for Kalia slunk away. We showed our gratitude by sending off a patrolling policeman from disturbing the young man and girl who had come to the park for a harmless cuddle or caress.       

We can of course go elsewhere for our stroll. A lovely place is the bank of a large lake, popular with tourists and locals, but getting there and back strains our budget for petrol and our free time too. I wish Kalia would learn from other dogs which are models of courteous somnolence, absolutely immobile when people pass them by. But we have hopes in a different solution.  Yesterday, we saw Kalia waiting to terrorise us as we walked by the kids’ corner. To our surprise, he was wearing a collar of art-pearls round his neck. So he had found someone to adopt him and even to adorn him. My current worry is that the other dogs which also frequent our park do not imitate Kalia by scaring visitors, blackmailing the faint-hearted and clinging on to a patron who can give them necklaces rather than leashes. 

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