City Life – Street Dogs of H. Nizamuddin East, Central Delhi
A home for the houseless.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Who wouldn’t want to live in Nizamuddin East?
This outrageously wealthy enclave in central Delhi is nestled amid gardens and monuments, including the grand Humayun Tomb. Calling Niz East home are numerous celebrities such as novelist Vikram Seth and politician Sheila Dikshit. And even the daughter of the last Nawab of Rampur.
A great place to settle down, in other words. The Delhi Walla can’t recommend the neighbourhood too highly if you can manage astronomical rents.
If not, well, the alternative is to go canine.
Some hundred stray dogs are welcomed in the enclave, with three dedicated feeding points to ensure they never go hungry. Magazine editor Vinod Mehta, who lived in an apartment here, would feed the Nizamuddin strays every evening with Parle-G biscuits.
Somebody who knows the dogs very well these days is Apurva Chandola in A-block. He regularly feeds home-cooked slop to the strays, driving across the neighbourhood at night in his little electric car. Mr Chandola is familiar with the habits and history of each dog, and he has given them names.
Some of his canine friends include…
Mogambo and Whitey: These two close friends are often lurking around the Mother Dairy near the market, where they’re given milk now and then — both by owners and customers.
Miss Brown: A champion eater who thrives on everything from khichdi to dead birds. She won’t hesitate helping herself to meals meant for other dogs.
Sheru: He regularly hassles a quiet canine named Spotty. Sheru’s story is sad. A domesticated animal, he was kicked out of hearth and home a year ago.
Persistence: She forever seeks love. Her pleading eyes tell it all. “Scratch my belly, scratch my ears!”
Jack: At 14, he’s the oldest dog in Niz East, and looks a bit like Tintin’s Snowy. Jack finds it hard to eat properly because of a dislocated jaw. Somebody may have injured him at some stage.
Brindle: She is super greedy. The moment she’s had her fill, she’ll plot to grab meals meant for other canines. During this rainy season her back is covered with ticks.
Chhoti: Called the “goiter dog” because of a swollen neck. Even so, she loves jumping.
Kalu: Lived a vivid life before passing this June at age 16. It’s said he grew up in Hazrat Nizamuddin Police Station but got dropped by the cops after becoming territorial — a tad too much barking. Kalu went on to become a highly effective guard dog, promptly chasing newcomers who ventured into his territory.
And did I mention Miss Persistence? Quiet and black, she usually sits outside the tomb of Abdur Rahim Khan i Khana, intently looking on at the traffic on the road. It is said that she was forcibly evicted by the territorial-minded dogs of A-Block. The other day, I walked past her, and she kept looking at me for a long time. Just for her love, I shall like to move to Niz East (if I can).
The who’s who
1. (Apurva Chandola)
3. (Vinod Mehta)