Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Strays gone by

You may love them or hate them but strays have always been a part of Mumbai’s urban life. They are mostly pets of the poor and are looked after by them. They too have names and individual personalities, which go unnoticed by most of us. Here are five of the hundreds of such stray dogs that are no more but have lived a colorful and full life, did not harm anyone and died peacefully of old age. All of them are very much missed by the people who looked after them and if you had known them you would have missed them too.

Champi: A brindle colored stray, she lived outside the Oval Maidan (Cooperage side – South end footpath) and was brought there as a puppy by Mauryaji, the sugarcane juicewala. She had gone frail with age, had one bent leg due to an accident. You would have hardly noticed her, as she would be quietly sitting under the tree by the side of the footpath.

James: In his hay days, he did have the personality of James Bond 007 but was nam
ed by Arvind, the shoeshine man outside Eros theatre for other reasons. Arvind loves dogs and whenever he got a stray, he used to name them after the movie that was released at Eros theatre at Churchgate. So when he brought a black pup, a Bond movie was playing and thus a James was ‘born’. Arvind already had a “Pretty” (she passed away some years ago), who was obviously born when Julia Robert’s Pretty Woman was released in 1990 and was James companion.

Ramesh: Ramesh died when he was seventeen years old. He lived near the New Excelsior theatre and was looked after by Tulsi Akka who lived on the street in that area. Everyone loved Ramesh, as he was the best looking dog in the area. He was white and was hairier than the average street dog. He used to have a fancy for foreign cars. Thus, in the nineties, during his younger days when there weren’t too many foreign cars, if you had to find Ramesh, he would be perched on top of the nearest foreign car parked near the New Excelsior theatre.

Babu: He was a dog in the Bombay High Court campus and due to him no other dog could venture there. All the policemen loved him and they used to call WSD if he was in need of first-aid. Ask any policeman about Babu and they would readily remember him. Though the policemen used to keep getting transferred Babu’s care used to be ‘handed over’ to the next incumbent.

Tamatar: If anyone heard you asking “ Tamatar, kaha hai”, they would think you are out of your wits but yes, he was called Tamatar as he used to love eating tomatoes. He was a handsome, grey and white dog with a scar on the head left behind by a deep maggot wound. It was natural that he was named Tamatar because if you held a tomato in your hand, he would follow you till you gave it to him and swallow it at one go. He lived on the main road just outside ‘Ghetto’ the pub, near the Mahalakshmi mandir. He used to be looked after by the vegetable vendor and known to everybody in the area.


Anil P said...

Did you happen to read 'The Dog who rode trains?'

It's a story of a dog named Lampo who one fine day dropped off a train and made the station his home. Actually he did far more than that, entering Italy's imagination for the intelligence in traveling the trains the way a seasoned traveler would.

The Station staff all over the country took to him.

Reading about Babu reminded me of this story I read long, long ago when I was at school.

In Italy they're erected a statue to Lampo.

Abodh said...

Anil : no haven't read the book. must read it. Though have read a similar one called Red Dog which was based on a real story of a dog in Australia who roamed all over Southern Australia and everyone loved it.

Anil P said...

Done needful.

Parag Bhargava said...

Abodh... Loved going thru ur blog... Must say... Very nice articles.

Its funny how i found ur blog, I was basically googling the Venue for "Independence Day" in Mumbai, and your Blog of last year popped up... After reading for blog, I guess its worth getting a feel of independence day in every street of mumbai... rather than in any parade... buut still as I promised my GF to take her for parade... u mind helping me on that..??!!
Let me know where in mumbai Independence day is celebrated with falg hoisting and parade... My email: paragjaipur@gmail.com


Mila Kahlon said...

Oh gosh, Abodh! I was just wondering some time ago if Ramesh was still alive! So sad to hear he is no more and what a blessing to live for 17 years, well looked after! Mila

Abodh said...

yes mila .. ramesh was something else... miss him !

Anonymous said...

I knew some of those dogs when I volunteered with WSD many years ago. Its sad they are there no more. They go along with the roadside stalls and the Irani cafes and the cinema houses.

Vikas Chaudhary said...

Hi Anil,
I did happen to read the story of Lampo, and believe it or not, but Lampo has become a codeword between my dear friend and myself for old days, when I forced him to read this story. It had appeared in Sarvottam (hindi version of Readers digest), and I had to force my friend to read it, since he never liked to read anything. He also loved it. Infact I reached this page(blog) after searching by keywords Lampo, Italy, statue. I was looking for the story, since I like to read it again and again, but have lost the book that had it. It was wonderful to hear about it from someone else.