Category — Rants
Last Saturday as I was leaving to go on my walk I saw a few men of the colony/area cleaning up the garbage. It was a real nice and heart-warming site to see people getting together and solving problems. Until now I haven’t seen people do anything together. Here it’s usually the ‘every man to himself’ rule that applies. Over the last couple of weeks the people have bonded over the dog issue and it seems the dogs have broken barriers between people. Finally maybe some good will be done in the colony. I only wish they would show some of this unity and vigour towards our apartment activities and issues too.
Anyway, the garbage outside our apartment had become an eye-sore. ‘Become’ nah its always been an eye-sore. Earlier we had a dustbin designed so dogs cant get at the garbage but people still threw their garbage outside the bin on the ground. We’d have stripped sanitary pads and torn diapers strewn all over the place. After all a pad and diaper are great playthings for dogs.
Then BBMP made segregation mandatory. Its another matter that our garbage collector doesn’t keep waste segregated, all wastes are thrown into the same mix at the back of the van. We did a drive back then and also gave pamphlets so those who slept through the talk could read later. But its too much work for most people so segregation happens only in some houses. Some don’t have time to put their garbage out for collection on time, so its simpler to walk out late at night and throw the garbage in the empty field where the old dustbin was. People would look at it everyday as the mound built but just walk away, then the maids were asked, even the BBMP guy was asked. No one wanted the clean-up job.
So, its good to see people take actual action together rather then just have meetings and keep talking.
The men were gathering all leaves and waste into a heap and setting it alight. I stopped by to pass on a message about BBMP wanting to send a representative volunteer to speak to the despiser group and ask if I could help with the cleaning. As expected it became a heat discussion on the demand that dogs have to go. In our talk Mr.M also told me about how there was so much plastic and they had to collect so many dry leaves to burn them. I looked at him aghast… ‘You burned the plastic?’. To which Mr.M shrugged and said, ‘If you burn it along with the leaves, its not toxic. I know all about it.’ Imagine… What do you say to someone who reasons like this. And while this conversation is happening there is a little toddler playing in the smoke along side Dad who’s also standing in the discussion group.
So I figured I’ll write about it after reading a little bit.
The fact sheet by WECF (Women in Europe for a Common Future) says
“How does home plasticwaste burning affect people’s health?
Most people who burn their plastic domestic waste do not realize how harmful this practice is to their health and to the environment. Current research indicates that backyard-burning of waste is far more harmful to our health than previously thought. It can increase the risk of heart disease, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes, nausea,or headaches, damages in the nervous system, kidney or liver, in the reproducti- ve and development system. The burning of polystyrene polymers – such as foam cups, meat trays, egg containers, yogurt and deli containers – releases styrene. Styrene gas can readily be absorbed through the skin and lungs. At high levels styrene vapor can damage the eyes and mucous membranes.Long term exposure to styrene can affect the central nervous system,causing headaches, fatigue, weakness, and depression. Not only these people who are burning the trash are exposed to these pollutants, but also their neighbours, children and families.
Dioxin emissions from plastic burning
The most dangerous emissions can be caused by burning plastics containing organoch- lor-based substances like PVC. When such plastics are burned, harmful quantities of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals are emitted. Dioxins are the most toxic to the human organisms. They are carcinogenic and a hormone disruptor and persistent,
and they accumulate in our body-fat and thus mothers give it directly to their babies via the placenta. Dioxins also settle on crops and in our waterways where they eventu- ally wind up in our food, accumulate in our bodies and are passed on to our children.”
Here are a few other sites with more info -
Project Green Bag – Plastic bags must never be burned
Plastic is Rubbish – Burning Bins
Daily Kos – Burning Plastic can Kill You
I always thought that burning leaves was fine, but the Breathe Campaign site says even burning leaves is bad! I didn’t know that.
So now its confirmed, burning plastic is bad. So where then did Mr.M learn about this burning leaves and plastic recipe? And why the hell do parents not care about the health of their child? We all learned in school that burning plastic fumes are bad. So why don’t we give a damn about our health? Its cancerous fumes we are talking about here. Why did no one else stop Mr.M from burning plastic? Mr.M is turning out to be a good brain-washing politician after all.
Is there a way I can complain about this? Any authority I can complain to? I hadn’t recorded the conversation but I do have photos. It’s not ok to burn plastic. They’re putting me, my family and people at risk!
April 9, 2013 No Comments
“Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.”
There is a war brewing and I’d like to make my stand.
***Warning: Long and slightly ranty road ahead.***
There are two types of people in the area I live in. The prodoggers wo like stray dogs and the other the despisers who despise them. The first is a minority but even in that small group there are varying degrees of passion towards stay dogs. Some will go all the way in a fight, while others feed and treat the dogs well but avoid confrontation with the despisers.
Now the despisers are a special people but even they have the varying degrees of passion. There are some who are willing to try and live together with the dogs, then there are those who think there should be only three dogs per lane and others who love pedigree dogs but hate mongrels so want a dog free zone.
For the sake of anonymity and saving my ass (and the despicers faces) from lawsuits I’m not going to use names. But let me tell you a little about these people.
Ms.L moved in about a year ago and passionately took up the doggy care. She lives down my street and feeds the dogs twice a day. She started with four and now feeds 8 to 10. She’s got so comfortable with them that the dogs allow her to medicate them and so she can keep them healthy. She has even vaccinated all of them. All the dogs she feeds have been neutered/spayed over time with the last one being done just a few days ago after she had weaned off her pups. Of course Ms.L also takes care of the pups and is actively looking for homes to adopt them.
She is fighting like crazy against the despisers who harass her quite a bit. The harassment is never one-on-one but rather a group of men who corner a women alone on the street. One time it even happened at night and some of the men were already down a few pegs. Drunk men and one woman – watta story!
The despisers is a big group that as a general rule avoids me, so I don’t know all of them or all that’s happening. But there is a Mr.B who is open to looking into ways to live and let live though doesn’t think there is much hope in convincing others about it and hence rather support them than fight them. Then there’s Mr.O, who in a short while will look quite ‘O’. He has been kicking and hitting the dogs for a couple of years now but expects the dogs to treat him well. Mr.C is a professor but his education falls short when it comes to dogs. He is adamant about the dogs being taken away, he just doesn’t want them here. Last but definitely not the least of our problems is Mr.M, who has 30 dalmatians in his home-town and loves them but hates mongrels. He believes as a race they should be exterminated. Sounds Nazi, no? And he’s a full politician, putting his finger into everything, screaming and calling the MLA at the drop of a hat.
Then there’s me. I have dogs of my own and love dogs – simple as that. When I moved to live here about 4 years ago, Che and I started feeding the dogs off and on. There was a dog with mange in the pack outside our apartment and one day we decided that she had to be caught and treated. I made a lot of calls but no one helped. Finally CUPA agreed to come and help as an exception though they don’t have jurisdiction here. We caught a couple of dogs but I can tell you it was a hell of a run around.
Then Che and I put together a plan; we started feeding regularly and spending time with the dogs. Over a couple of months we managed to get the dogs comfortable and put collars on them. At this point Mr.M made entry and helped us contact Sarvodaya (he switches sides like a politician too). We worked out a method to leash the dogs before the van came in and got a big batch of 5-6 dogs neutered in one go. That took care of most of the dogs at my end of the lane outside the apartment.
We continued feeding but over time we started to notice that the dogs were getting too friendly with us and hence assuming everyone who lived in the apartment were friendly too. This led to them getting hit and chased more, people complaining and dogs becoming dependent on us. After speaking to a couple of dog behaviourists we came to the conclusion that we had to get rid of the dependency and stop being over friendly to solve the problem.
We started feeding randomly (not every alternate day) when we got the mood. What happened was that after a few days the dogs went back to hunting rats and scavenging in the dustbins. This meant they weren’t around standing and waiting for food and spread out when hunting. It was easier for non-doggy people as they didn’t have to deal with a pack outside the gate. We also started distancing from the dogs. We stopped excessive play, we’d still give them a rub when going or coming in the gate but not too much. This over time led them to back away from people and their friendly overtures towards people stopped. This meant that they get hit with sticks and stones less as they stay away.
I love the dogs we have on our street and would do almost anything for them. Each one of the dogs here is amazing in behaviour and temperament (My Cuckoo’s mother lives on our street and I see so much of her in Cuckoo). But a balance has to be met when it comes to strays. We doggy eccentrics go overboard in caring for them and forget that nature has meant them to be a certain way. Hunting and scavenging is their way of life. If asked they most probably enjoy it so is it right for us to mollycoddle them or make them dependant on us. We have to help and support them but we shouldn’t be taking away their life skills or way of life on the street. They live full lives as strays, hunting, running and playing in the the little space they have after we have encroached with our fancy houses. We have to find a balance if we want to avoid human-dog conflict. That’s my stand – to find a balance where the humans are not in constant conflict with the dogs and the dogs are healthy and safe.
This of course puts me in a weird place. The doggy party thinks I’m switching sides and the despisers see me as the enemy So while I belong nowhere, I guess I’ll just continue doing what I can for the dogs as I watch the drama unfold.
And what a drama it is. Here’s the lowdown until now – Earlier I said Ms.L was being harassed so we did some searching and found that we could apply for Govt. Issued cards that authorise us to feed the dogs. We’ve sent in our applications and are currently waiting for the cards. Ms.L filed a harassment complaint at the local police station to keep them posted on the abuse. And we continued our feeding and neutering drive.
A couple of weeks back Mr.M made calls to the MLA and such and pressurised BBMP to take the dogs away. The only ones the Sarvodaya van managed to catch and take were three timid ones (one was a mother with her pups) who were petrified and hence didn’t run away when the van came. Ms.L then made some calls of her own and got to know that BBMP and Sarvodaya had no choice as some big shots had called them. However now that she had called they would observe the dogs for a few days and if they were not aggressive they would be sent back. At the end of the week the dogs were back and all were happy or at least all the of the non-despiser group. The dogs and the prodoggers had won round one.
This led to an accidental chat I had with them a few days later on the street. Mr.B I think understood what I was saying however Mr.C refused to budge from his stand that the dogs had to go. After a lot of trying and explaining, I gave up. Didn’t look like they’d understand any time soon that the dogs were a part of our eco-system and can’t be removed just like that. So I told them the process of filing a proper complaint with BBMP and warned them that if they tried anything underhand I’d file a case against them.
Last weekend the colony seem to descend for a meeting as one (this is they only thing I’ve seen the people unite over in the last 5 years) and 200 people signed a petition that was submitted to the BBMP. I didn’t even know 200 families lived here, gawd where are all these people when we call for meetings over the garbage issue.
On Wednesday Mr.M along with two BBMP officials went to meet Ms.L. The officials told Ms.L that she should stop feeding the dogs but if she still wanted to feed them, she should feed them inside her compound and keep the dogs inside. They can’t be put back on the street. Now Ms.L has two dogs of her own, she can’t just adopt 8 dogs into her house. So, of course she told them she would do no such thing and if the dogs were a problem BBMP should take them away to the shelter. The BBMP guys baulked at the suggestion and promptly told her that they can’t do that. However they would send a van the next day to pick up the mother and get her neutered.
Ms.L in the heat of the moment forgot to take names and designations of the BBMP officials but were they really from BBMP and the Canine Care division. I have my doubts because they didn’t know anything about dogs, the Govt. Issued feeding cards and other stuff. Wonder who Mr.M pressurised to get someone from BBMP to turn up.
Anyway the van came yesterday morning and picked up the mother for neutering. In the evening they were back with the mother and a pup we had caught and sent earlier who had mange but had been treated and was now healthy. I was sceptical about the pup getting back as it’s been over three months since she’s been away and when we sent her she was just over 3 months old. But good news, she has settled in just fine. A few skirmishes still but mostly all good though it’ll take a while I guess before she gets all friendly with us.
The despiser group as always are late to react and only came out of their homes as the van was leaving. But I must give credit for their show of fitness in times of their need. They chased the van down and caught up with it a street away. Ms.L and I went to investigate just in case the driver needed help. He had no need for our help; he must deal with people like this all the time. He listened to Mr.M and Mr.O scream and shout about how they weren’t informed that the van was coming, etc. The van driver though calmly asked for their numbers, took them down and told Mr.M and Mr.O that he’d “inform” them next time and left.
The crowd of women onlookers(grudgingly: and a few men) and Mr.M and Mr.O formed a tight circle to discuss further plan of action while Ms.L and I slowly ambled back home. This is the way things stand as of now. No clue on what they’ll do next but looks like round two goes to the prodoggers too – not only did they not take any dogs away but rather brought one back to add to our numbers
Like I said this is a fultu fun drama and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. Will keep you posted.
Have you got such drama in your area? Any suggestions for us on our next steps? Please do leave a comment if you support stay dogs. If not, do comment on that too. I’d love to hear your reasons for their extermination.
March 29, 2013 2 Comments
Disclaimer: This piece may be all over the place as I’m a bit emotional. Dogs do that to me – always; humans – sometimes
A friend shared a petition on my Facebook stream today and the title got me interested.
So I went to take a look and here are my thoughts on street dogs and culling.
This topic came up in our last building meeting too. Residents wanted the dogs removed from the colony. Really! How in the world do you remove street dogs from the streets of India? You could but they’ll come back: always – others if not the same ones!
We have to understand how dogs work in our environment. They are territorial just like us. We have plots of land all demarcated and registered so we can claim it as OURS. Well, they do the same, just without all the paperwork. Removing them just opens up an unclaimed piece of land that then gets grabbed by someone else.
The dogs got here first. If you ask around you realize that the first guy to buy land in your area saw dogs there when he bought it. They were there first and we claim the land is ours and they need to be removed?
Ok apart from the emotional stuff. Culling isn’t the answer to the street dog menace. Please note I don’t see them as a menace at all. They are helpful in a lot of ways, but the most important – they keep the area they live in free of crime.
I don’t think culling will help at all. The numbers will drop for a bit and then just bounce back. It would be better for people to get more proactive and get the present dogs neutered. That way the numbers can be controlled and watched.
No point in constantly blaming the govt. either. We need to take action, if we don’t do anything how can we expect anything of the govt. It’s like blaming the govt. when you didn’t even take the time to vote.
I have neighbors who have unvaccinated pets at home. These are parents who vaccinated their kids but see no reason to do the same for their cats and dogs. Forget about how it will keep the dog/cat healthy, they don’t even understand the risk they are putting their own kids into by having unvaccinated pets.
I also have seen people in my building go out of their way to kick the dogs. Kids obviously emulate their parents and chase the dogs with sticks into a corner. Then the parents complain that the dogs are a potential threat to their kids. Really? Are the dogs the threat? And all because the poor cornered dog had no other option since there was nowhere to run. Its sad to see how people treat dogs who are really sweet and friendly.
Che and I have spent time getting to know the dogs in our street. With help from another resident we got them neutered. We were sick of seeing dead/dying puppies and are so glad now to see NO puppies and healthier dogs. The number of dogs is in control – to some extent.
Recently there has been some rearrangement of dogs in our street. The aforementioned residents have been beating and chasing the dogs. That has led the pack to move away and new dogs have started to come in. The old pack found more peaceful human neighbours further up the street. It means a new round of neutering soon and more risk until then to aforementioned residents
Remember our constitution – by the people, for the people. BY comes first because WE can and should take action first. It isn’t difficult. Take responsibility. We feed and watch the dogs in our area. Street dogs are friendly by nature. They instinctually know that they need to co-exist with us (even if we don’t). I’m not saying go give them a big hug but you could start by treating them nicely and maybe feeding them regularly. Dogs that eat well tend to stay healthy and healthy dogs are less likely to pick up infections like mange, etc. When the dogs trust you it will be easier to catch them and neuter them. It costs about Rs.300 or less to vaccinate a dog for the year. It’s worth the investment.
Culling isn’t the answer but taking a little time to get to know the dogs in our area and taking care of them may just solve our problems.
If you feel strongly against culling street dogs please stop by and sign the petition. Leave your thoughts about my thought too please
August 3, 2012 4 Comments
Had to step out today into the Bangalore from hell… It’s hot out there, not hot as hell, yet but we’re getting there.
I was born in Bangalore and brought up here. I’ve spent almost all of my life in this city that I love and I hate to see what’s happening to it. I remember the roads of my childhood, they had a canopy of trees and travelling on them was bliss. You didn’t feel the heat, the sun didn’t burn your skin and the hot wind didn’t take your breath away.
Today was terrible as I travelled across the city, I got a tan I don’t like, actually its more a burn than a tan – a dirty brown. The wind hitting me was hot; it felt like I’d opened the oven door in my face. There was no escape from the heat and a sprinkling of trees to hide under.
Oh yes, there are a lot of trees on the sides of the roads but we’ve knocked down the huge tall canopy offering trees for these stunted 10-15 foot monstrosities that offer no shade whatsoever. All in the name of still trying to be a green city!
So much has changed, yes we’ve developed and become a big city but is it really worth it as we strip away the real beauty and replace it with concrete. A city where the buildings reach out to the sky rather than the trees. Roads that make you feel like bread on the toaster conveyor belt, so what if this toaster can accommodate more bread.
I miss the Bangalore of my childhood, I loved that city to bits and just don’t know this one anymore. Don’t fit here in this furnace anymore and don’t know how long I’ll last before I’m charred!
March 5, 2012 No Comments
I’ve been on a break from the blog in the last few weeks. What started with missing one blog post rolled on into missing many posts. Everyday I thought of writing and then told myself ‘Not right now, later’ and later never happened.
I felt guilty but it’s usually easy to convince yourself and let things slip. But blogging regularly is important. Every time you miss a post you lose readers and traffic – you lose a bit of your voice. I should have known better and I plead guilty.
So what am I going to do about it and how am I going to make sure I get with the program – here’s what I plan to do.
The Buddy System
This works and this post vouches for it. Find a friend to make yourself accountable to, tell him/her what you plan to do and give them the right to question you. Evading yourself is easy but it’s difficult to escape another’s queries. Being accountant helps you stick with the program.
Plan a Schedule
Plan the week out and decide what you will be posting each day. That will help you plan ahead. I think, thinking of what to write is one of the most difficult parts of blogging and a plan helps in this. When you know what you are going to write about, half the job is done. After that all you have to do is sit down and write.
Publishing a post everyday does not mean writing it everyday. Yes, you want to write some posts on that day so you can share what is happening in your life. But if you are writing on a topic or doing a review, you can do this earlier and schedule it for publication. Then if you want to on the day you can add a paragraph of the latest news.
These are three things I intend to do to stay on track and blog regularly. What do you do to make sure your blog posts go out on time? Do you have any recommendations that will help me stick with the program?
March 3, 2012 No Comments