She stopped me in the street and asked if I was English. She was correct and presumed I loved dogs. She was an old woman with a lively spirited tongue. I knew immediately she was from the home counties, somewhere outside London and had now made Cochin home. I don’t know her name however, she reminded me of the many widows and spinsters who retire to Spain.
In her old age, she had become leathery, what once would have been grace and beauty, now all that was left was fortitude.
Like her Spanish counterparts, as the years add up they realise they have a differt opinion to the locals. Still, they stay on, murmuring bad words. But the old moan all over the world, that I am sure – even in England – in this case about the cruelty to dogs. Otherwise, I can imagine she spends her day tending to pots of geraniums in her courtyard and feeding cats and dogs; hers and the strays, keeping humans at bay.
‘Would you come tomorrow and help save the dogs?’ She climbed off her bicycle and told me her name, which as I say I have forgotten. ‘Tomorrow they are rounding up the dogs again.’ Said with a strict, no-nonsense approach to the subject. ‘Then they beat the poor dogs to death. And they are harmless animals. But the cowards fear tourists and the death of the dollar.’
Out of politeness I agreed, told her my hotel and waited for this unusual freedom fighter’s instructions. Then I read the papers. Four people killed, 700 injured by wild dogs. The dog woman is right. The State government are paying handsomely for the sculls of stray dogs. But for all this old women’s action the dogs are being killed and tourism flourishes.
That night I was on the overnight sleeper to Madurai on a most unusual coach decked out with double beds.