Mission Delhi – Kaloo, Jor Bagh
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
His life is about to change for ever.
The Delhi Walla meets Kaloo one early autumn evening at his bungalow in central Delhi’s Jor Bagh. He is sitting beside pink bougainvilleas. A black mongrel, Kaloo was living on the streets before he was adopted by Marina and her husband Mark, the new arrivals in the neighbourhood. Now, years later Kaloo’s parents are moving to England and he is going with them, along with his brother Brownie.
Kaloo used to be a biter, a habit, his mother Marina says, that was borne of having to defend himself from the maltreatment he received on the street. But his new parents gave him so much love, and bones, that he was soon transformed into a peaceful soul.
Enquiring how a Delhi boy could survive England’s cold wet weather, Marina replied, saying, “Kaloo lived near Gate No 1 of Jor Bagh and slept beside the chowkidar’s fire. He is used to cold nights of sleeping on freezing tarmac.”
Moreover, in England, Marina says, Kaloo will have central heating and a fire to sit beside.
But the UK doesn’t have our lovely Lodhi Gardens. Kaloo depends on the park for his daily walk. He will feel its absence in England.
“In England, Kaloo will live in a village in the Oxfordshire countryside in a garden adjoining a paddock,” Marina says. “Instead of Lodhi Gardens, he’ll enjoy walks beside the river Thames, and — along with many Japanese tourists — strolls through the churchyard of St Mary’s, Cholsey, where Agatha Christie is buried.”
It seems it is simpler for Indian dogs to immigrate to the UK than for their human counterparts.
To travel to England and to settle there, all that Kaloo needed was a ‘pet passport’ which he received after having his blood samples shipped to England for approval. (Kaloo’s blood sample proved that he has had all his rabies jabs.)
While his mother talks about him, Kaloo shifts his position and rests his face on his forelegs.
“We hope he won’t miss his homeland as he will have his dear friend Brownie with him whom he brought to us from the street. He will also have to get used to seeing new creatures … cows, badgers, voles and even hedgehogs.”
Kaloo leaves the town this week. He and Brownie will fly with the British Airways. They will travel in special cages arranged by the Delhi-based pet travel company PetFly. According to Marina, Kaloo will land at Heathrow, where he will be met by representatives of JCS Livestock, a company that has transported tropical fish, earthworms and zebra. The jet-lagged traveller will be taken out of his cage for exercise and food, and then put back into it for the hour-long journey to the door of his new home.
Kaloo will be welcomed there by Mark, and his grandparents, Tony and Gill.
The new experiences are still a few days away. Lying on the floor of his Indian home, Kaloo is patiently looking forward to his evening walk in the Lodhi Gardens – a place that will soon exists for him only in memories.
[This is the 78th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
Leaving the town, for ever