Mission Delhi – Bhoora, Turkman Gate
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Histories and havelis, kebabs and tikkis, bazars and lanes. People flock to Old Delhi from all over for these attractions. But nobody comes here to hang out with one of its most beautiful elements: Bhoora, the dog.
He is the living landmark of Turkman Gate, one of the only four surviving of the original 14 gateways of the Mughal-era Walled City. Bhoora is among the many strays in the area, but stands out for his shaggy bhoora (brown) coat and his quiet nature. He is very well-behaved, never barks, never chases the cats, and brings out the best from every creature here, including the humans.
This evening he is sitting on the pavement, just outside the building housing the Haj Manjil, across the lane from the stone gateway. Actually, to call Bhoora a stray would be true only up to a point. For years he lived in Turkman Gate through thick and thin with beggar Mumtaz. They were always seen together on the same part of the sidewalk, be it day or night. Abandoned years before by his family, following a road accident in West Bengal that made him lose his leg, the bearded Mumtaz found a new home in Turkman Gate, where he also made a friend in Bhoora. They would eat together, with Mumtaz sharing with Bhoora whatever he would be offered by the passersby.
Mumtaz died a few months ago and for a time it seemed that Bhoora would be alone in the world. But he swiftly adopted Muhammed Abrar, a banana seller, who parks his cart daily outside the aforementioned Haj Manzil.
Making a little fire for Bhoora from wood pieces, Mr Abrar talks of how Bhoora started sitting by his stall, not long after his companion’s passing, until they became friends. “Now I make a bed for him every night under my cart.” Mr Abrar lives in Narela with his (human) family but sometimes he stays over “and then I sleep on the top of the cart and Bhoora sleeps underneath.”
Turkman Gate teems with street hawkers and it is a fact that everybody here is kind to the dogs and cats milling about, but everyone has a particularly soft corner for Bhoora. “Maybe because he is so seedha-saadha, and everyone feels he is still missing Mumtaz.”
Now Mr Abrar calls Bhoora by his name. The dog turns to him with wide unquestioning eyes, and trustfully sits by the banana seller’s legs, close to the fire, looking at peace.
Bhoora is always seen about the gateway, and in case you can’t spot him, just ask anyone in the area for his whereabouts. He is known to all.
[This is the 392nd portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A friend in the world
1. (Bhoora with late Mumtaz)
2. (Bhoora with Muhammed Abrar)