Canine Animosity If you are as observant as I am, you will agree with me that there is no sight more familiar than dogs barking furiously at rag pickers. I had first observed this phenomenon as a tiny tot making my daily trip to the Nursery School. The way they bundled me into a rickshaw to be taken to the school despite my severe protests always made me wonder how everyone, including my mum, could be so cruel as to pack me off to a hostile world and refuse to get moved by my tear-stained face. This is of course germane to the issue and my apologies for digressing! Coming back to the canine animosity towards rag pickers, this strange phenomenon has been going on unabated since God knows when. I have seen it not only in the then Madras and now Chennai but all over India. I have seen it in West Bengal from the streets of Kolkatta to the remote villages of 24 Parganas. As well as in UP, Bihar and Punjab and even in the cold heights of Himachal. I can not say with any authority whether such a sight is common in other countries of the world as I am not one of those globe trotters. If you are one of those blessed ones, maybe you can throw some light on this subject. I am, notwithstanding my ignorance, prone to think that such displays of canine intolerance go on in the Western countries as well but may be at a much lower decibel level and in a lot more dignified manner. Possibly not much of unscrupulous barking or chasing but just a look of utter contempt. Or gnashing of teeth and a mild roar of disapproval. The point that I am trying to focus on is this. Has anyone ever tried to find out the reason for this canine animosity towards rag pickers? How did it get started in the first instance and how did it assume such global proportions? When I tried to find out an answer for this great riddle from an old and seasoned rag picker, he just shrugged his shoulders philosophically looking almost like one of those tragic Nazi-persecuted Jews who did not find his place in the Schindler’s List. Another mind boggling aspect of this whole mystifying phenomenon is that it is not just the non-descript street dog that cries for the blood of the hapless rag pickers but also the most pedigreed ones in affluent households which hardly go out of the air-conditioned rooms except for answering a call of nature and hence would never have had any exposure to a rag picker. It is, therefore, an animosity that defies all reasons like the one between a snake and a mongoose. I did some introspection on this subject and realized to my dismay that my own animosity towards certain people was not backed by any tangible reason. I tried to delve deeply into the innermost recesses of my conscience to find a reason for my hatred for them but I drew blank every time. It dawned on me that I was no better than the canine community nursing an animosity towards a chosen few which was not supported by any reason and hence illogical. I drew comfort from the fact that I was at least able to express my animosity in a dignified language and not bark at my adversaries like the dogs. But the fact remains that I still feel like a dog when I think of my illogical contempt for certain people!