CRISP early morning. I resolve to have an encounter, come what may. Halfway through the customary walk I spot him. ''Herr G Shepherd, I want to talk to you.`` He gives me a bewildered look. ''Please come with me; we have to gather some more of your ilk before we start a discussion.``
In the next few minutes Mr G Dane, Mr D Mann, Frau D Hund, Ms Pom, Mr Collie and Sri Mudhol assemble inside the park.
''I have been watching you for some time and it is unfortunate that I have to give you a sermon even though all of you come from educated households. You have great curative value for the soul but the agony you cause to others is considerable.
''If you are to watch and ward at night, why do you sleep under the cot? When do you watch and what exactly do you ward? If foot-loose, you howl at anything that moves, from the bandicoot to the wee-hour milkman. In short, why are you fouling up the places that do not belong to you? Why are you here?``
''Sir, I presume you are going a bit too far in our personal actions,`` demurs Ms Pom.
That`s right, I retort, ''Why perform your private deeds in public places?
In unison they answer, ''We are house- trained.``
''House-trained? You should be road-trained; park-trained; lamp-post-trained; tree-trained; sidewalk-trained; Bajaj scooter KA05 E9935- trained and myfrontgate-trained...`` Save the breath.
''Excuse me sir, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones...`` the new face, Ms Mongrel, the Streetsmart, shakes me up a bit. ''If you don`t mind, I`ll take you on a small expedition after which we shall continue our review.``
She goes on a trot. We follow.
''This is the garbage bin,`` Ms M observes and looks at me enquiringly, ''But where have you thrown your waste? It is littered all around. Party has spilled over,`` she murmurs, standing amid scores of paper cups, plates, banana leaves and mounds of left-overs.
She leads us across the road avoiding a stationary Maruti and brethren on the hedge. ''Driver piss, owner piss; Maruti piss; small- bladder-Indian piss. What training do you recommend?``
A maid servant is sweeping the front yard; a car is being washed and there are puddles and a stream on the road. House is clean at the cost of street; street is clean at the cost of the town; town is clean at the cost of what? She wants to know.
''This building is being constructed for the last six months; the watchman`s family lives here in the shack without a bathroom or toilet.
''You ask us why we are here. We are here because of you.`` Spokeswoman sounds a bit belligerent.
''Interested in inspecting the other parts of the city? Have you ever heard the story of the 'pan walla-in-the heart-of-the town`? This city is like the river Ganga. Am I clear, sir?``
I nod my head rapidly; clear my throat to salvage a truce and quickly sign the peace accord. That`s how they became man`s best friends.
The November nip is in the air.
Good morning Ms Pom,
You look gorgeous in your new woollen wrap.
Have a nice day!