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“He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small…”

I’ve mentioned dogs in Delhi and elsewhere a few times in my musings – that’s because there are oodles of them.  In delhi alone, there are an estimated 300,000 stray pups and the city is trying to reduce this number for the Commonwealth Games in October.  There’s a campaign to sterilize 70-percent of the stray dogs in the areas of the city with the most strays per kilometer.  Past efforts at population control have included “relocating” them.

What strikes me most about street dogs here is that no one seems to mind them.  Neighbors feed them, attend to their wounds, sometimes even see that they are fixed.  I watched a man on a busy street corner accidently step on a dog underfoot and fold his hands in prayer, chanting “sorry sorry” to the yelping animal.  Hindus believe that all living forms are divine to varying degrees, and that humans are most precious because these souls have earned their ascension after reincarnating from lower life forms.  So, a dog has a soul and deserves a certain amount of respect.

During mosquito season, our car is often buzzing with the critters and the kids and I have a ritual where we spend the first five minutes in the car smacking away – an extermination dance of sorts.  My driver prefers to open the window and encourage the mozzies to fly away.  I’m sure he thinks we’re barbarous, but mosquitos here carry all sorts of disease – some, like dengue, are not curable.  I think my driver truly sees those flying fleas as tiny manifestations of God.

But back to dogs and the common care afforded them here.  In the neck of the woods where I frequent, which is mostly in the more moneyed regions of south Delhi, it’s not uncommon to run across a street dog wearing a coat to fend off cold.  My friend Lola tells me that dog owners will often recycle used doggy coats and give them to strays.   Take a look:

The dogs in India seem particularly lethargic.  They plop down for a nap anywhere:  in the middle of the street, along heavily populated walkways, in the trash.  This little guy was sitting outside of my neighborhood convenience store.  Notice the burned log to the left – remnants of a nighttime bonfire.  And don’t let the trash fool you.  This dog is living in Delhi’s 90210:

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I’m never bored with the bonfires.  These guys are warming up at the flower market:

And you can’t have fire without fuel.  These women probably used a long bamboo pole with a hook on the end to pull dead branches from trees.  On my run today I watched three little girls, younger than Olivia collecting wood in this manner.  Once you knock the wood down, you have to get it home.  I took this photo in front of the kids’ school:

And the colors, the COLORS!  These ladies are stringing garland:

Take a peek at a typical January morning here in Delhi.  It’s foggy and cold  – and it makes the tombs and ruins that pepper this city all the more mysterious!

And who will be the first to identify the title of this post?  Surprise me… someone other than my mother, please!  (She knows everything!)

8 thoughts on ““He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small…””

  1. Dearest one,

    Yes, I do know where the quotation comes from because I once tried to memorize the entire poem (I didn’t succeed!) … and this is also one of my very favorite poems ever … but I won’t spoil it for your other readers!
    I was touched by your description of Delhi’s dogs … I’m glad they are cared for and considered worthy of having a soul; quite different from the stray dog situation in Costa Rica … oh, heartbreaking …

    Love always, MAW

    1. there are plenty of desperate and neglected dogs here as well… but if you haven’t already noticed, i try to see the good, and maybe less celebrated stuff in all this mess! xoxo

  2. Love that poem as well …

    One of these days I’m going to get the gumption up to stop some of these amazing people I see on the streets, talk to them a bit and take some great memory photos of them … or maybe one of these days I’ll take more time!

  3. Or hows about I tag along with you? You’re WAY ahead of the ballgame with the Hindi (tho I did pick up a little phrasebook the other day that has proven quite helpful) …

    1. Yes! Of course, a Yardley would know… ! Let’s read it together out loud next time we’re together… this summer? oh how that would make me happy!

  4. girlfriend, take a look at my facebook status post and the comments. i’m fed up with delhi strays trying to take a bit out of our buddy dog. something’s gotta be done ( glad to hear they’re trying!). beautiful blog. there’s beauty to be found in it all, huh? xx

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