This piece isn’t about the IAS, it’s about the dogs
I am a congenital dog lover so I have to agree with Mrs. Maneka Gandhi on this one: the decision to exile the traveling IAS celebrity couple from Delhi to the Chinese claimed territories is hasty, disproportionate, exaggerated and erroneous. But not for the reasons given by the lady – I don’t know the officers or their skills. My reason is simply this: Anyone who loves dogs and walks them after a hard day at the office can’t be an entirely bad person. Has “walking” interfered with the athletes’ training? I do not know. Was the stadium closed on the express order of Mr. Khirwar? There is no evidence of this and it is extremely unlikely since the stadium was not under his control. Did this deprive India of a dozen gold medals at the Olympics? I don’t think so, given our track record in the days leading up to the march. Does the incident provide a convenient scapegoat for the government. for defeating the IAS, an institution of this government. must demolish completely to achieve its totalitarian goals? Yes, as previous examples of harassment of other IAS officers show. How come a Samir Wankhade who abused his powers to maliciously lock people up without any evidence or due process gets a cushy posting to Chennai while an officer who walks his dog in a stadium gets fired thousands of kilometers? This is not to defend the “march” but to disapprove of arbitrary and severe punishment. But now on to the subject of my blog – dogs. A word first about the degradation of the standards of our media: they provided us with the complete biodata of Mr. and Mrs. Khirwar but we still do not know the name of the canine at the center of the whole imbroglio. Given that said pooch played the starring role in extending the couple’s short walk through Thyagraj Stadium to a longer walk to Ladakh, we’re certainly entitled to know the dog’s name, whether he’s in English, Hindi, third language, native or regional language. Language. But I’m not complaining too much, because it also gives me an excuse to tell some of my dog stories.
Finding a dog’s breed or naming it isn’t easy, even for us IAS types, with all the general knowledge learned at Rau’s Study Center. Until today, for example, I clearly remember that day in 1975 when I was walking around Library Point in Mussoorie with my now long-lost bandmate, Mukul Joshi. We saw a man with a little dog’s face sticking out of his coat pocket. We were intrigued and wanted to see the whole dog; the stranger took it out: it fit perfectly in the palm of his hand! None of us had ever seen such a small pooch, so we asked the owner what breed it was. He replied, “Yeh Chihuahua hai.” Mukul was puzzled and replied, “Isko kya huahua hai? Yeh itna chhota kyun hai? ”
Dog names are important because they tell us a lot about their owners. Someone with a dog named Custard or Dumpling is likely to have diabetes, a Sultan’s owner will have more testosterone than is good for him, anyone with a dog named Tommy or Tiger probably had the English as a third language in school, anyone who has a dog called Yogi will end up in Agra prison, a Spice or a Samosa will in all likelihood belong to someone whose diet is strictly controlled by his wife, the A Bhim’s owner is likely to be a BJP supporter, any dog called Bogey may only belong to a golfer, and not a good one as well. You get it, don’t you?
Naming dogs is no easy feat, trust me. I wanted to call my latest pet Bark Obama, but he just refused to bark; it also doesn’t have a byte, which ruled out the laptop. I eventually named him Brutus (the only part of English literature I still remember from my Hindu college years) because of his seriousness and puppy-like dignity, which weren’t very noticeable when he first grown up. But it wasn’t the first time I got the name game wrong – I baptized my firstborn and heir apparent as Sidharth, and the only Buddhist quality I see in him now 40 years later. is a tendency to give up life along with work. and watch Netflix at Puranikoti full time.
The naming of the dogs posed a bigger problem to a colleague a few years ago, at the time of the late Mr. Virbhadra Singh, then a formidable Chief Minister of Himachal. Being a former ruler of Kinnaur district (where there is only one surname – Negi), his kitchen cupboard and desk drawer consisted exclusively of Negis. This was not appreciated by other members of the IAS who took umbrage at having to take orders from Negis all the time. My friend, in a cathartic gesture that would have delighted a psychoanalyst, acquired a doggie and named it Negi! This created some commotion in the Secretariat’s senior and junior lunch clubs and even in the evening bacchanal fights in the tehsil offices once the Jamabandis were properly rigged and attested. To the question why this provocative name? my friend replied, “So that there is at least one Negi that I can order.” Unfortunately for him, the chief secretary was also a Negi, and my friend made the rest of his career in the Ayurveda department pushing Chyawanprash as a livelihood. History unfortunately has no trace of the fate of the four-legged Negi.
A word about my own Golden Retriever, Brutus, aka Golden Receiver to my neighbors as he used to greet every visitor with a wagging tail instead of barking and asking for their Aadhar card. Brutus had a longer pedigree than all the Shuklas put together and would have turned his nose up at Thyagraj Stadium – nothing but Narendra Modi Stadium would have done for him. It was a one man dog, the man being your humble blogger. When Neerja and I took him for a walk, I was the only one allowed to hold the leash. If Neerja took him for even a moment, he would stage a dharna on the road and stop all traffic. While watching TV in the evening, Neerja was not allowed to sit next to me (not that she particularly wanted to); this place was reserved for Brutus. One morning in 2007, when I was badly injured from a falling tree and laying in the road with a broken spine and broken ribs, Brutus wouldn’t let anyone near me for ten minutes. . He kept the doctors away, which I guess helped my bones heal faster than they would have if the doctors had put their hands and scalpels on me. He weighed 45 kilos but was terrified of cats, birds, spiders, monkeys and all loud sounds – that last bit was a blessing in disguise as it ensured we never watched Arnab Goswami or Rahul Shivshankar on TV.
There was an incident, however, when Brutus put me in an embarrassing, albeit unknowing, situation that impinged on civil-military relations. Colonel Abhay Rastogi and his wife Gauri were good friends of ours and we met regularly for drinks in the evenings. Abhay and Gauri had a beautiful Labrador dog named Saira, and since Brutus was now of age, we decided to broach the subject of a canine union with them.
“Gauri”, I said casually one evening over a drink, “why not pair Saira with Brutus?” They will have beautiful puppies, don’t you think?
There was a clink as Gauri dropped his glass of Bacardi, followed by a thick silence you couldn’t have cut with a butcher knife. Abhay decided it was time for a bathroom break and hurried out of the room. Gauri looked at me like a major general would at a wandering Havildar. Finally she spoke:
“It’s impossible,” she intoned, “Saira is an army dog and we couldn’t breed her with a civilian dog. Their puppies would be hybrid paramilitary types.
So that was it with regard to civil-military liaison. We continue to be good friends, Saira and Brutus have moved on to canine heaven, and there is a lesson here somewhere for all of us.
This is precisely the subject of this blog. Let us not judge too hastily in this age of instant opinions. People who love dogs, like Mr. and Mrs. Sanjeev Khirwar, can’t all be evil or the ogres that the media has portrayed. This whole incident was blown out of proportion because this country needs a cause celebre every day to feed its insatiable appetite for sensationalism. Let’s not put the Khirwars in the niche just because they belong to the IAS. Anyway, Ladakh and Arunachal are beautiful places, and I’m sure their (as yet unnamed) pooch will prefer it to a stadium, with or without athletes. This post may be the best thing that ever happened to them. There are worse places than doghouses.