When I first got married and moved to this flat in Pune, I used to wonder at the completely eclectic group of individuals/families, which reside in this apartment complex. The first floor itself is shared between an orthodox Muslim joint family, an eccentric, sixty odd years old Rajnish Ashram American devotee who lives with his mistress -formerly his maid (As an aside, we always wonder whether the lady of the house has retired or continues to do her earlier job) and a penny-pinching, nosy, ISKON worshipping Sindhi family. (The third floor has a Tamilian priest living next door to a rich bloke’s mistress – how did they GET these combinations will remain a perennial mystery to me).
Anyways, this post is not about the residents in the flats, but the residents outside it. Amongst other things, the Osho gentleman, has decided to adopt three stray dogs – well, not adopt exactly, but he feeds them at night. So the first sight you get of this otherwise nice-enough building is three (one black, one white and one white with cream patches), mangy, slightly scary, flee-bitten, sick looking (and probably ill) strays lying on the passageway to the lift - usually just lying there sleeping most of the day. Rumor has it, that the other residents have tried many a times to rid the building of these dogs or get the chap to take them inside his flat, but have not yet succeeded.
For the first few months, I was a bit wary of them – all the warnings about rabies, strays and injections tend to float in the mind. But after a point I pretty much got used to them, and would pass by without taking a circuitous detour.
Forward to April, S’s sister was getting married, so we had a number of functions at his mother’s house (two buildings away). So typically, in the mornings, S would go on ahead to help with the wedding preparations, and I would follow later after winding down this house, along with my mother who had come down for the ceremonies. One day Ma noticed it. She said, “ Have you seen these dogs? Every time you dress up in a sari those dogs escort you to the other building (MIL’s house) and then go back to your building.”
Turned out that was true- specially the cream patch feller (and usually one of the other two)! When I went from this house to the other, the guard of honour would drop me to the other house and go back. The mother of course, was amused. Claimed they probably thought I looked nice with the sari and the jewellery so they were just making sure I reached in one piece.
Wedding happened, and I went back from saris to the usual jeans but the escort service continues. What amazes me is the fact that I go to the other house for lunch and dinner and they don’t bat an eyelid. But the minute I am going out, that’s a different story. They will (usually) make sure that I am accompanied. Even when S is with me. Even if they are otherwise occupied somewhere down the road. They will drop whatever is it that they are doing, come to the gate of the other house (where S parks his car), wait outside wagging their tails, and as soon as we are out of the building, they turn around and go back to whatever they were doing.
S complains that they don’t seem to give him that kind of attention, and there are many other girls in the building who don’t seem to have merited this either. I don’t understand how I have to be honest. It’s not like I give them food, or pat them or talk to them or anything of the sort.
Today, I realized just HOW much they have decided to adopt me. A friend of mine was staying over, and she was to leave very early in the morning. So we were waiting outside for a while to flag the auto. The black and the cream chaps came, tails wagging nineteen to a dozen, sniffed around us, yawned, stretched but generally sticking close to use throughout. After a while, my friend decided to go to the end of the road for an auto, while I was waiting with her bags. During this time, the cream chap had decided to go and investigate something inside the building. Suddenly, as I was standing, a slightly seedy looking man was walking down the road – before I knew it, both these dogs were standing flanking me from the front and right, hackles raised while this man passed by. They relaxed after he was gone but still stuck fairly close around me. Friend came, friend left, I went back to the lift, (chaperoned of course). Then I peered down from the gallery and I saw that my canine friends had gone back to their well-deserved sleep after performing their self-appointed duty.
Apparently knights come in many guises!
Continued here for those who are interested : Adventures of mutt and moron