I share a tryst with dogs – I can’t stand them and they can’t avoid me! Quite a combo right? My earliest recorded encounter with the canine kind came about when I was in the 1st standard and I used to come home walking everyday and as every kid does, I found it a long and boring walk. One day one of my friends who generally is picked up by his dad’s peon, walked home with me and showed a shortcut for which we had to jump the wall of a few houses and voila! I could be home 10 minutes early! I was impressed with that guy for showing me “the way”. The whole of next day in school, I was dreaming about how I would go home 10 minutes early and surprise the people at home and about my parents would recognize what an intelligent bloke I was. The school ended and in my eagerness, I half ran and reached the first among the 4 houses over which I had to jump the walls to reach my home. I was slightly hesitant as to what I would do if the house owner calls up the police to report me for being a thief. I cursed myself for not taking this fact into consideration when my friend had shown me the route. Somehow, jumping walls with another guy felt far more secure than attempting it alone! Somehow, half expecting to see a policeman anytime, I entered the second house and it went smooth. I gloated over my “stealth” and with extreme overconfidence, I jumped over the wall into the third house, right onto to the tail of a dog which could have done with some more flesh over it ribs. Out of its nature or because it was ill-fed, I don’t know, but the dog was up in a flash and trying to see if it could sink its fangs into some part of me. I ran and ran for dear life and cursed the house owner for building such a big house. I was afraid to shout for help as that would land me in a bigger problem – police (this is what I thought then). So there I was trying to run around plants, upturned vessels kept to dry and the well, trying to avoid the skinny monster. And after some hide and seek around the well, the dog was not to be seen moving. I thought that I had outwitted the dog and started walking away from the well, when with a yelp it came for me and I had nothing to hide myself and so I made a dash for the wall and kept running. My legs kept hitting some part of the dog and that nasty feel gave me wings and in one clean jump, I cleared the wall and was in the next house. Unfortunately, the dog was inspired by me and it made a clean jump as well, landing 2 inches away from me. I thought I was finished and waited to be bitten when a stone came flying from somewhere and hit the dog square in the jaw. I looked up and saw a guy standing there, smiling at me. At this moment, I was strangely reminded of the Gajendra Moksha story and I ran home and as soon as I latched my gate, sat down on the porch, trembling! This episode left me with a deep misgiving about the Canis lupus familiaris.
The second incident happened when I was in Chennai, and I remember, I was in my 5th standard when I got a cycle, troubling my parents to no end. And as soon I learnt to drive the cycle well enough, I started to be apart of the road racing group – we had a race track of fixed length, it was around a block of houses, much like the pradakshinam around the temple. We played it much like the old world format – league phase, when it was A Vs B, C Vs D and so on. This procedure was continued and gradually people got eliminated. Due to my extraordinarily high energy levels, I was in the last four (semifinal) when IT happened. As I already told, the track was much like a rectangle, with houses filling it. I was leading for the first two corners when suddenly, at the third corner, I felt the cycle wobble. I first thought I had a punctured tube, but all my doubts were dispelled when I saw a tail from the corner of my eye. I got such a scare that I braked so hard – resulting in a somersault over the handle bars – proved to be a blessing as it got me away from the fiend and I left my cycle with the dog as a keepsake and ran away. This meant automatic disqualification from the race. I ran home and when my mom asked where my cycle was, I told where it was. She kidded me for being such a wimp and took me to the spot and there it was – my steed – lying in the dust. The dog was prancing around from the leash, held in place by the owner of the corner house. To me the dog seemed to be celebrating its successful bid to derail my race. Everybody was laughing, without realizing, how humiliating it was for me – one, I had given a ride to a dog (!) and the next my somersault and the ensuing actions, though “lifesaving”, had been such a funny spectacle that the guy who was racing against me, had also stopped and was laughing uncontrollably, as though, he had seen an oscar winning comic performance! I was so ashamed with the whole incident, that I just tugged the cycle along, walking back home, turning my back on road racing once and for all – more out of fear, than of humiliation and the India lost Karthik "Armstrong" Sriram.