The other day I was traveling. The train was to start from Mumbai Central and I had reached before time. Actually I always reach before time for this particular train, because the Pune – Mumbai train takes me there with a margin of at least three hours. I generally spend these three hours by eating something, reading books or newspaper and of course watching co-travelers without intimidating them.
This particular train is a Return Train. I mean it starts early morning from Ahmedabad, reaches Mumbai Central in the afternoon; again starts from Mumbai Central and reaches Ahmedabad late in the night. For me, it is convenient train, though I have to spend a day in transit. I travel by bus, only when I am traveling short distance or if there is no other alternative.
Even after the train arrives, one has to wait for half an hour as the coaches are cleaned by railway labor. It is disgusting to see the amount of garbage people throw in the coach during travel. But that is an issue for another post.
After I climb in the AC Chair car, I know what to expect in the next ten minutes. A beautiful dog with whitish almond color smooth skin enters the coach. He is apparently controlled by a police man. But I always feel that the dog and the police man have a tacit understanding about not troubling each other. Their relationship seems to be smooth and without passion.
Now this is bit funny. With all due respect to railway police, I find checking of coaches by bomb squad dog a little funny. I mean, this is a daily train. And if everyday you are checking the coaches at the same time, which foolish terrorist will get in the train with a bomb in his or her baggage? They can get in at Borivali, or Vapi or Valsad or Vadodara. Even they can get in at Mumbai Central after the dog has inspected the coach. There are still ten minutes for the train to depart.
But routines are routines and orders are to be followed mechanically.
I have been part of this scene so many times, that I have developed affection for this dog. Why dogs should die while discovering a bomb planted by human beings, is a question I am not able to answer so far. This dog is so silent, so clean, so beautiful that every time he passes by me, I want to touch him, I want to pat him, I want to say ‘Thank you’ to him. Of course, I have never done this. I do not want to invite attention of policeman and I am not sure that the dog would return my gesture with politeness.
Generally until the dog is in the coach, everybody is silent, everybody watches the dog move. And once it is out of sight, everyone is relaxed and turns to whatever she/he was doing when the dog arrived.
On that particular day, something strange happened. A man in full white started addressing the dog. He had come to see off someone and was engrossed in talk. When the dog approached him he suddenly started talking to the dog in a very friendly manner. What was surprising was that the police man stopped by that passenger; as if allowing him to play with the dog. The dog stopped too, but did not respond. He did not wave his tail. When the man in the white, tried to pat the dog, the dog just looked at him. His response must have been very cold as the man backtracked.
“Oh! It seems that Tiger has not recognized me”, the man in the white complained to the policeman.
“Sorry sir, he does not recognize anyone when on duty,” the policeman replied politely but with an immense pride.
The dog walked away with the policeman in a normal way.
The man in the white laughed awkwardly. He must have been intimidated by my questioning eyes.
“Madam, dogs are smart these days. I am one of his trainers. And this Tiger does not recognize me when on duty!! What kind of life we human beings have. Even dogs on duty are unapproachable” He sighed. Then he smiled – partly to me, partly to himself
Whether he was happy or sad about the dutiful dog, I cannot say.