City Life – Friends with Best Friend, Around Town
Lives of citizens.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The road is a blur of bikes and cars, on both sides of the road divider. The man sitting on the divider, legs splayed out, is quietly having his chai from a paper cup. A dog is sitting in front of him, the curled tail occasionally wagging, the mouth lifted up towards the chai cup. The man pats the dog’s head—one, two, three; he lowers the cup, touching the rim to the dog’s lips.
This is often their evening routine, says the man, introducing himself as Ramesh Giri. “He is Bhoora.” On hearing his name, Bhoora’s eyes turns to Ramesh Giri’s face, the tail starting to wag faster.
In his late 60s, Ramesh Giri lives on the city pavements, mostly in the area around Delite Cinema in Old Delhi. He is always dressed in artificial jewellery, which “keeps me in harmony with my life.” His neck has half a dozen pendants, his wrists are adorned with bangles and bracelets, his fingers with green, blue, red stones. These accessories have been a collection of many years, he remarks. “Sometimes people in temples offer me these chains and stones, sometimes I get them from bazar shopkeepers, sometimes I pick up discarded chains from the streets.”
His other fondness is for street dogs. “They are also like precious stones. They, too, provide peace of mind,” he says, his hand lightly cupping Bhoora’s mouth.
Ramesh Giri’s friendship with Bhoora goes back to a few months. “He is on his own, I’m on my own, sahi na (isn’t it true)?” He asks Bhoora in a finically sweet voice, eyes blinking pleasantly.
A similar bond between a citizen and a dog was witnessed one late night, some miles away, on another road divider. Lying on a woollen blanket, the homeless citizen who lives on Mathura Road was patting a black dog. “She is Kaali,” he had said. Hiis name too happened to be Ramesh. Every morning, he said, he buys bread and milk for Kaali. During the day, while Ramesh is away working as a labourer, Kaali roams around the area, joining him on his return in the evening. “She is my family,” Ramesh said.
Similarly, in Gurgaon’s Sector 14, “ordinary worker” Suresh daily feeds an unnamed black dog with a pack of Parle G biscuits because the “dog is like me, we both live in this foreign pardes without our family.”
Ramesh Giri does not consider Bhoora his family,. His active eyebrows arching upwards, the chai drinker clarifies that he likes being alone but gives Bhoora his company every now and then. “It is nice to sit beside each other.”
A few minutes later, the man and the dog are no longer to be seen. Their spot on the road divider is empty.