I like pigs. I really do. The place where I lived earlier used to be lush and green with wide spaces some twenty five years back. Then because of our brilliant government policies, more and more people from small cities and villages started pouring in Delhi and some very interesting unregulated and illegal colonies sprouted like wild mushrooms all around my home. It did not take long for the place to turn into a ghetto where you could not drive without your car bumping into a buffalo. And then there were the pigs. Their sudden appearance gave a new dimension to the colony in addition to naked children rolling on the roads and men bathing in full public view. Monsoons made the pigs delirious with joy and they sang duets with frogs. What a joy it was to hear the two species go oink-oink and trrrr-trrrr in quick succession while one swathed in rain water (Thanks to the eternally clogged drainage system in Delhi) and the other jumped over them. I felt close to nature.
And did I mention how much I like cows and buffaloes? I find them very well behaved in Delhi. They NEVER sit in the middle of the roads and promptly move away from your car the moment you honk. The cows in Chennai or for that matter in Haryana are a bit rustic and very fearless. They sit right in the middle of the roads even if there are huge trucks rumbling towards them. Also, the city cows make me feel proud of our nation. I have seen foreigners going ooooh and aaaah the moment they spot a cow and then frantically fumble their bags for the camera. I once saw a caucasian woman set up her tripod stand on one side of a busy road to take pictures of two cows lolling while they chew their personal cuds. My chest swells with pride every time I think about the incident. And did I tell you about a foolish, old man whose corpse was taken off a cow’s horn in my locality? I am sure he must have been harassing her for free milk.
Then there are the dogs. Not the pet ones, but the ones who play with kids on the street and bite anyone they fancy. I like them too. Every day before going to office, I religiously put chapattis dabbed in milk at the foot of a lamp-post near my house for the dogs of my street. I like the way my wife jumps and runs when 7-8 dogs try to appreciate her new saree by circling her as she catwalks. I cannot imagine my life without stray dogs. They are such an integral part of every Indian city.
Monkeys hanging from trees around my house always turn me philosophical and make me wonder why nature mutated us from them. Was it a joke? There is a society near my house that has humans and monkeys living in harmony. If you visit that society, you will find one monkey sitting on each car. The people living there have finally bought a few langurs to keep the monkeys at bay. Can you imagine how fortunate the children living in that society are to live in such proximity to their ancestors?
And what should I say about the horses, camels and elephants? I still remember (very fondly) an incident which happened while travelling in my office bus. I was deeply immersed in a novel when I suddenly sensed a giant eye peering through the window to see what I was reading. It was an elephant who was standing next to the bus, waiting patiently for the traffic signal to turn green. That day I almost tasted my heart. Sitting on a camel for a ride and straining my spinal cord always remind me how fragile my life is. And I like their extra long eyelashes and the way their jaw moves when they chew. They remind me of Tinu Anand.
Pigeons are another set of fascinating creatures found in abundance in Delhi. Whenever I go to my mum-in-law’s house, I am greeted by mounds of pigeon shit in her balcony. Her AC cannot be operated because it is filled with straws as numerous pigeons have tried to make their nest on top of it. If you leave any of the doors open by mistake, don’t be surprised by the flapping of wings in your bedroom. And the moaning sounds they make in the morning never fails to turn me on. It is the sexiest alarm anyone can dream of.
Living amongst all these amazing species is an experience which you can only enjoy in India. They are mostly harmless if you enjoy them from a distance. But there is another specie that is deadly and extremely dangerous to live with. Humans. In a dark street, you might have more faith in a gang of five dogs but not in a gang of five men. You might allow your child to feed the pigeons but cannot leave him with a portly, old uncle in the park. You might allow your child to take an elephant ride but can you be sure about the driver who takes the child to school?
Yes, I like pigs. Even if they swathe in mud, are dirty, carry germs and litter the road, I know that they are just animals. Trustworthy. Innocent. Living their life without poking their nose in anyone’s business. No ego hassles. They do not know how to use guns or how to throw acid. They do not understand the meaning of countries, terrorists and caste.
Funny how not being intelligent can be such a boon. I wish we were still animals. Life would have been so much simpler.
p.s. I haven’t mentioned cats, squirrels, cockroaches, lizards, sparrows, crows, donkeys, goats, politicians and so many other animals because this post was getting extra long.