I walked the circumference of the Meenakshi temple with many other early morning devotees.
I had breakfast; tomato dosa with curry sauce served on a vivid green palm leaf. It satisfied my morning hunger. I had a second and then third chai to kill time. I had a shave and felt better for it. I purchased a linen shirt to replace the shirts lost in my laundry bag I clumsily left behind in Dubai.
10.30 drags on to 11.30 and then it was noon. Still, Dr Jay was assuring me ‘just 10 minutes Mr Conrad. I am sorry.’ I sat and waited, sitting on the hotel step watching the colours of all India and sundry pass.
An animal recuse vehicle blasted it’s horn at an infringing scooter and stopped urgently. How could I be cross when Dr Jay smiled out of the window waving and smiling – ‘jump in Mr Conrad, jump in.’
The dog sanctuary is basic. Several brick compounds with one small office furnished with an old metal desk, a visitor’s chair and nothing more; no computer, no filing cabinet, no shelving, no books, no typewriter. The office opens onto an operating theater. It is equally as basic.
‘We collect up the dogs,’ he showed me a large fishing net, ‘and bring them to be muted. Then they are released again. Back in the same street, all noted down in this log. The vet opened an old accountant style book. He seemed very pleased with his way of keeping track of each dog.
And who am I to say what works and what does not.
‘This is how we know how to release them back to their own territory. Their territory is just a few streets.’
‘And they don’t fight in here?’ I asked looking at twenty dogs in a pound the size of a small bedroom.
‘Good lord no. They are all friendly dogs.’ He pushed his fingers between the open wires of the metal fencing to show his good feeling towards his patients. They licked him back contented. They seemed very docile.
‘This is the law.’ He paused as if I should know this. ‘Stray dogs are to be muted and returned to the street.’
‘But in Kerala…’ I went to suggest otherwise but he continued,
‘They break the law and kill them Mr Conrad! Why? When there are rapists and pedophiles and murders and criminals, and the police hunt down dogs! It is madness, what harm is a dog doing?’
I could hear my own mother’s response to so many questions. I decided it was not wise to ask about the four dead people. As an alternative, I asked ‘and the donkeys?’ ‘Yes, I have spoken, and he is buying 21 donkeys in Bangalore to work on a the Mahalingam Temple at Watrap. It is not so far. We go out there when he is back. He will rent you donkeys. Not a problem.’
Sitting at Dr Jay’s desk we discussed the ‘program’ as he referred to the walk with donkeys. ‘And one more thing Mr Conrad. How about taking a dog with you? A fine companion.’
‘Yes, why not Dr Jay.’ I agreed and he smiled back. This is how I acquired a dog. I have patted the dog and now the dog needs a name. I left with the promise of a donkey.
The visa is still a worry and I am not sure when the Land Rover is due to arrive.
In the evening I caught the bus to Cardamom House. Cardamom House is inside an oasis I have ‘christened’ the Hindu ‘Garden of Eden.’