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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Nawwab & I: Pamela Constable's Ahu

photo credit Pamela Constable

Islamabad is a city of many pet owners but few animal lovers. Affluent families dote on imported Persian and Siamese cats and retired officers walk their German shepherds or stout yellow labs, but I have rarely seen anyone express concern or
affection for a street dog. The snobbery of the elite is passed down to the servant class. Ahu & Me: A Dog Is Lost, Hope Is Found In Pakistan
t: Nawwab, do you know Pamela...
N: ...her essay on Ahu? Yes, interesting read.
t: A rare feel good story from the land of perpetual bad news.
N: She should have done her homework more. The ragtag scavengers are mostly Afghans.
t: Aha, so you do not approve of her comparison?
N: No. Mileage!
t: Don't be so cynical. Her comparison may be misplaced some, but is fairly accurate.
N: There is hope for dalits in India. None for minorities in Pakistan.
t: Haan theek bol rahay ho, but things can change under a stronger democratic set up.
N: Not in this century. Look at dogs in Karachi and Mumbai.

Digression: N was referring to the incident at Churchgate station, the terminus of Western Railway commuter line in Mumbai. It is a busy hub round the clock. Passengers are for ever getting off or on the trains.

One evening as we got off a train and headed out of the station, all we could see was a sea of heads heading out the exit. And as we got closer we could see a small island in the sea of heads. As we negotiated the oval curve of the island we saw an old hound spread out and the commuters were walking past the peacefully slumbering dog with not a worry in the world.

In public, and in general, the animals are left alone in India. Sometimes, out of necessity they are culled also. We can leave the humongous traffic chaos caused by them for another time. Contrast this with dogs and other animals in major cities like Karachi and you will get an idea of what Nawwab is talking about.

Dogs (and the poor) in Pakistan are for ever on the look out for a curse, stone or stick hurled at them.

t: Your point is well taken. The animals, specially the dogs are mistreated.
N: are the poor there.
t: Have to agree with you. The poor are only a rung above the dogs on the totem pole.
N: And not to mention pigs...
t: The old bull dog once observed, “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”
N: You trying to be funny with me?
t: What happened to your sense of humour?
N: The treatment of dog and sense of humour are two notable distinctions between Indians and Pakistanis - flags and passports aside.
t: Come Nawwab, don't paint with a broad stroke. I know so many Indians with a good sense of humour.
N: Name a few.
t: Jessy, Aaman, Dee, cs, Adi, Guido, even Sumanth once in a century...
N: You are skating on thin ice in the middle of Rab al Khali ho ho ho! Some of these are non-desis and some are cat lovers.

t: I must lodge a protest with the Humour Security Council of the League of Humour.
N: Cat lovers lag behind.
t: What about camel jockeys?
N: Zilch. They can be jokers but not comedians.
t: Thanks
N: For what?
t: For educating me on dogs, Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs, and the State of Humour in the region.
N: You are welcome.


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