I looked down from my window and saw the road and the cars parked on the street covered with snow. The trees were dressed in snow as well. Their white branches extended to my window and beckoned me to enjoy the pristine snow and to hear the first crunch of the snow under my footsteps.
I had to get some groceries to survive for that week. I put on my white sweater, my brown winter jacket, my black hat, gloves, pink socks, black boots and came outside. As I walked on the snow, I heard a familiar crunch and with every footstep I created a footprint that will stay there for a long time. The chill wind brushed past me and tired to get in through the gaps between my coat and gloves, gaps between my jeans and socks and kissed my face, as though it meant no harm at all. The notorious cold wind wanted to borrow some of my warmth. But, I did not give that pleasure to it, I tugged my coat closer.
I went to the grocery store and got the perfect bachelorette food, noodles and soup packets. As I stood at the crossing and waited for the green man to appear on the signal, I heard somebody walk behind me. I turned around and I saw a young woman in a long purple tweed coat walking her dog. She came and stood beside me. The dog sat between both of us. Its black coat glowed in the dimly lighted street. I looked at the dog. It looked at me with large dark brown expressive eyes which intrigued me. They looked at me with great love and longing. They asked me, ‘Don’t you remember me? Have you forgotten me?’ Those questions puzzled me. To this day, I remember that cold wintry night in Chicago, those big brown eyes and the questions which bewildered me. I wondered if I had some special relationship with dogs. But it was about to change soon and I did not realize it.
I moved from Chicago to Bangalore, about two years after that incident happened. I started working in Bangalore. I drove to office and parked my car in a parking lot which is about 500 m away from my office. The entrance to the parking lot had barricades on either side of it so I had to go through a narrow path to enter the parking lot.
One fine morning, as I got close to the entrance of the parking lot, I saw that a light brown-colored dog blocked the entrance and slept there peacefully. I honked as I approached the dog. I hoped that my incessant honking would scare it away. I came close to the dog. It was no longer within my view. I stopped the car, got out and looked if the dog was still there. It was still there! It looked at me with nonchalant eyes, which said, ‘I don’t give a damn about you’. This kind of attitude from the dog bewildered me. I wondered, when did dogs begin to feel above humans? I was honking away in an effort to save its life but it remained there and questioned my authority.
I did not want to accept defeat. I got into the car, got a bit close to it and gave a persistent honk which lasted for a couple of seconds. I got out of the car. The dog did not go away from its favourite spot. I was invisible to the dog and my horn was unheard. It rested its head on its paws and pretended to sleep. I did not know what to do. I tried to scare it away by voicing a tiny ‘shoo’ and big ‘shoos’ but nothing worked.
A security guard came by. I called him and told, ‘Are bhaiyya, is kutte ko bhagado. Subah subah marna nahi chahti (Brother, scare the dog away. I don’t want to kill the dog early in the morning). He came towards it menacingly and shouted loudly, and the dog ran away. I could finally get into the parking lot after my doggie fiasco.
This incident really made me think about my special relationship with dogs. The dog from Chicago gave me a false impression about how dogs in general, felt about me. Well, the dogs from Bangalore have a completely different opinion about me. That left me pondering what kind of relationship did I really have? Was it a location-specific mutual feeling that ended as soon as I moved to a different continent?
Image from http://yipa.org/training/online/on-demand/telling-your-impact-story/