Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mumbai through the Eyes of a Stray Puppy

In Chicago they die the river green to celebrate Saint Patty's Day, I just can't wait to see what the Mumbaikars do to celebrate Holii today! The drums beating outside and people dancing on the street is the perfect ambiance to write this post. But the real inspiration to write is my new little muse, Ana.
A week ago, a 2 month old stray puppy followed me home and she was just so sweet I had to take her in. She was clearly anxious, hungry and flea ridden. Well, I am happy to say a week later, she is looking healthy, clean and very calm (she is sitting near me while I write this). My husband's named her Anastasia (Ana for short) because of the Russian princess who was just looking for a family to love her. She reminds me of Annie the orphan, because she has so much personality, she has won both of us over.
Over the last several months, I have become somewhat immune and apathetic to what I see happening on the streets. A very different mindset than I was the first year I moved to India and started this blog - back then I couldn't wait to come back to write what I was seeing, hearing, smelling etc. After the automated lifestyle we led in New York, moving the Mumbai was a real jolt to the senses. But I guess after a year I became like every other Mumbaikar "Saab Chalte Hai, Yeh India Hai, Madam" they say - "Everything Goes".
But with Ana I am observing a totally different city again - from 2 feet above the ground this time. A month ago, while I was waiting in front of my building, waiting for a taxi I saw 2 girls sitting in a nice car in front of my building enjoying some late afternoon snacks. Then one of them opened the door and littered 3 feet away from me, all the left over samosas, chutney, napkins, plates etc all over the pavement. I stared at her in the face and shook my head and got into my cab. I was disgusted - not so much at the mess created infront of my home, but that educated, well off people, who would never think of littering in their own home or cars, would be perfectly comfortable littering on our streets!
Worse is that when I got Ana, she had clearly been eating off the streets the last 2 months, which were the reasons for many of her health issues. Puppies can't digest heavy, greasy or sweet snacks. If she stayed on the streets, she would have gotten sicker and potentially created health risks for the general public who walks on the streets - so what goes around comes around. As I nurse her back to health, it makes me realize that a "Smarter City" first needs to be rich on civic sense and responsibility - not just educated people with smart phones! So what do you think it will take to infuse our society with civic sense?
I know for starters, we have to start treating our streets like we would our own homes!


  1. What we need to ensure is
    Smarter governance.In my perception "the chalta hai attitude" has the roots in Indian governance which has lacked the authority since the very beginning.
    Education and teachings in civic sense are assets which are ingrained in us theoretically in schools but we as citizens have seen them fail a numerous times from the roads to the offices.At the end of the day whats supposedly an asset feels like a liability defined by the words "kaun karega yaar".
    I do not know whats the likely way out of the problem which has been there for years and seems like a part of a legacy.

  2. Thanks for your very insightful comment - I would tend to agree that the lack of authority or associated punishment they way they have in Singapore is part of the issue. However, I do wander what it will take to break the legacy - i have to believe that the new generation of facebook and BBM addicts who watch TV all day have a different mentality than the "paan spitting generation?"

  3. Interesting comparison drawn between the paan spitting vs the facebook lads.Probably the difference lies in the amount of efforts required to inspire and improve the two.At the end of the day there are only two ways you can change habits , either by force or via incentives.Incentives certainly are more lucrative for they are self motivating and yes I believe a lot easier for the facebook generation to comprehend them.

    p.s : thanks mam for the insightful session on "thinking smart ", surely was an eye opener.

  4. Remember the campaign "Atithi Devo Bhava" and "Sharm ka Taaj" by Aamir Khan ?

    How effective was that campaign ? No one knows the practical impact of that but it sure did touch our hearts and we need more of such awareness campaigns to ensure smarter governance!

  5. I agree with most of it but we (means educated and those returned from US) have to tell and educate if the need be. Again, money and class do not go together what my observation so far in India.

  6. getting a stray dog home- that is brave..

  7. well..mabe it's a tad bit too late to comment on your blog. as the original post is dated months back. But just wanted to let you know what I felt :-)

    1. Do you really think a group of selfish people can change?

    A group is selfish when more than 50% of the team become a self obsessed, facebook generation, thinking what they are doing is in all honesty the right thing to do.

    Imagine a world where everyone is on the right – on their own terms. Well if everyone is right God no ones wrong. In a country like india that's the true danger that’s killing us right now.

    2. I think we are what we want to be. Laws can change but laws cannot initiate change. India has the laws it needs but we are the same.
    Collectively we want to litter our streets. How can laws change that!?

    3. And the less spoken about Anna Hazare the better. It's a lot of goose-bums and good sense. I agree. But what is stopping the same Indian citizens to be honest and show integrity in every aspect of their lives. Nothing. But we are not.

    If I tell you 'No rules (read laws) from tomorrow'. You won't agree right. No rules – is what we don’t accept guided by routine existence.

    Of course no rules is what ends up in reality when we go out deciphering choices, what is right at one moment in time and what’s wrong.

    When you go on doing the wrong thing a long time it becomes right. rememer the lyric 'Right becomes wrong, the left becomes the right'.. Cultural Amnesia.

    Gandhi was right and ‘possibly’ our moral science textbooks when we were very young. Post Gandhi and the elusive moral science books, right almost always flow from our pockets deep or shallow or from our political correctness (you can call it mass behaviour, herd mentality) which usually is demonstrated day in and night out.