Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lest I forget

Last year, many strays that I knew passed away. Most of them were dogs that were old and had lived a good life on the street. They were looked after and cared for by someone. It becomes very tough when you lose a pet and for me it has always been tough to lose so many that I have known over the years. All these were strays that I had interacted very closely with and grown very fond of. This blog is dedicated to all of them.

The Nariman Point Kalu: The Sunday after the 26/11 terror attacks, I was in Nariman Point administering first-aid when a man who recognised me came running shouting "Doctor, Doctor ... Kalu mar gaya”. I asked him what had happened and he said “terrorist’s ne mar diya” and went onto describe how it happened. As I wondered how the terrorists could have been at Nariman Point… I realised later after reading newspaper reports about the terrorist attacks, that the man was telling the truth. I pieced together the man’s inputs with the newspaper reports on what could have happened.

After the terrorists had hijacked the police van from Metro and driven towards Nariman Point with a burst tyre, Kalu started chasing the vehicle as it was making a terrific noise. This happened at the traffic circle near the Mittal Towers. This was when the terrorists gunned him down, proceeded ahead and later took over the Skoda. The man, who met me told me that Kalu died instantaneously, had suffered bullet injuries and that they buried him near the sea.

The WIAA Kalu: I have known him ever since I started doing first aid in 1996. He died on January 23, 2009 at the WSD kennels of old age, when I was in Delhi for our Supreme Court case. Kalu was one of the most happy and resilient dogs I have known. He used to live in the Indian Merchant Chambers building at Churchgate where Irani Café, Stadium Restaurant is located. He was called the WIAA Kalu as one of the WIAA (Western India Automobile Association) drivers had brought him as a puppy sixteen years ago and all the WIAA drivers and staff used to love him and feed him. He was friends with Raju another reddish brown hairy dog who used to live here and died some years ago. Kalu was very affectionate. You would see him lying down near the 123 bus stop or on the footpath outside the IMC building. He used to make these bawling sounds on seeing me and wanted to be petted continuously. In his hey days, he would follow me to a point and then go back. Kalu has been through many maggot wounds, a liver problem, an accident where he was paralyzed but he came out strong. Whoever knew him, loved him including WSD volunteer Urvi Desai who had taken the photo that I have used alongside. Kalu was not very happy when they brought Rani,a bratty puppy to his 'ilaka' and used to act snooty with her at the beginning. He of course accepted her in some time. Rani still lives there but has glaucoma and must be missing Kalu like all of us.

Altamount Road’s Jimmy: I had known Jimmy for atleast twelve long years. Jimmy used to live in some tenements opposite the Washington House on Altamount Road. He was looked after by Rakesh who worked with Smoking Joe’s Pizza. I must confess that Jimmy was one of the few dogs that has bitten me. He used to hate me from the bottom of his heart for all the rabies immunization pokes and the maggot wound and other treatment given to him. It used to be easier to treat him when Rakesh was around , so we used to visit Jimmy during Rajesh's off-duty hours. During one such visit for a rabies vaccination, he must have though that this was his chance to take ‘badla’(revenge) and gave me a small bite on my leg when I turned around to leave.

Little did we know that when WSD volunteer,Rohan Mukerjee photographed him for the WSD 2009 calendar, he would not be around when it came out. Though he was street smart, I was very shocked to know that he was run over. He was one of the oldest dogs on this street and shared the tenement with Junior, a young reddish hairy dog.

The Rhythm House Kali: Kali too was very old, around sixteen. She used to live outside the Rhythm House at Kala Ghoda and used to be looked after the street dwelling family living on that foot-path. Kali used to be loved by all the street kids who also used to lovingly sit on her and she used to never protest. She too used to try and slink away when she saw me or when we had to treated her for any ailment; she used to give us a little chase upto the Kala Ghoda parking lot. She was the last of the many dogs that this street dwelling family has and younger ones had passed away before her. This photo was taken when one of the street kids wanted to put some X'mas decoration over her and she was getting ready to dart off on seeing me. The other one is of her, feeling at 'home', outside Rhythm House.

The ‘D’ Road Moti: Moti was a favorite with all the residents of Vishnu Mahal on D road at Churchgate and he used to take turns of going to different people's houses on various floors of the building for a hearty meal. You, thus would not have been surprised seeing his size. He was really huge. He used to be a good guard dog in the building and always watched me suspiciously when we used to go to give him his annual rabies vaccinations or treatment. Moti was atleast fifteen and died of liver failure and was given a tearful adieu by the Vishnu Mahal residents and me at the animal hospital crematorium.

Fashion Street Rocky: He used to live on Fashion Street not very far from The Bombay Gymkhana. He was brought there thirteen years ago by the street dwelling family whose one son still runs a cutting chai outfit on the foot-path at the entrance to Azad Maidan. Rocky was black with ‘dobe’eyes. He used to go berserk on seeing me and used to jump up and down literally trying to reach upto my chin. A volunteer who was doing a photography project had clicked a photo of him jumping in mid-air at me. Rocky has had his share of maggot wounds and the bald patch on his head was due one such terrible maggot wound which WSD’s volunteer from Germany, David Murphy had cured. Rocky was like a cat with nine lives. Some years ago, one day whilst passing by, I found him in a terrible condition, listless, not able to get up and with a very bad maggot wound. He was taken to the WSD kennels and over time, he healed and was happy to be back. Rocky would generally be lazying around on the edge of the Bombay Gymkhana grounds, on the Azad Maidan or between the parked motorcycles on the Fashion street foot-path. When ever I am passing his hide-outs, I wish that he would mysteriously appear from some where and greet me with his signature jump. Here is a photo of Rocky and his Maidan friends.

The Parsi Kua Rani: She was the gentlest dog that I have ever known. She used to live at the Parsi Kua or the Bhikaji Behram well, near Fountain. She has been living there for the last fifteen years and she was a very gentle dog loved by the Parsi worshippers who visit this holy place and of course the attendants who doted on her. They were always very concerned about her and used to call WSD very promptly if she was suffering from any ailment. She used to either be sitting at the door under the photograph of Zarathustra or on one of the green wooden benches or somewhere near the well. She was a very willing patient, be it for her tick infestation or her rabies immunization. She will be truly missed by all of us.

To be continued.....

Photo Credits :

Jimmy: WSD Volunteer,Rohan Mukerjee...taken for the WSD 2009 Calendar.
WIAA Kalu : WSD volunteer, Urvi Desai