August 18, 2011

What Elephants Eat, Dogs Don’t

But What Human Beings Eat, Dogs Eat Too.

So, I could understand what these three dogs were hoping for when they lined up in front of this lady at the Dubare Elephant Camp on the river Cauvery in Coorg.

And each time she laid her hand into the food she had bunched up in a piece of paper, the three dogs stiffened up as if preparation to race each other for the morsel the moment she cast it in their direction. They held their ground, unmoving, concentrating on her every moment as she tucked into the goodies, oblivious to the enquiring presence of three hungry dogs.

And each time she brought her hand to her mouth to polish off a mouthful of food, six alert ears straightened up even further as if to make certain she was prepared to eat it and wouldn’t spit some their way.

And when they heard her munch on the food, the six ears relaxed just a wee bit before the trio cocked their faces to one side, eyes alert, as if to say “Really, you didn’t throw us some!”, not that they saw anything differently from an angle but probably in disbelief that nothing came their way.

And so they waited, and waited, and waited, without luck. For all the lady knew, they didn’t exist. That must be some hunger, I thought, to feel nothing about six eyes watching your every move and not acknowledge their presence in any way let alone share some of it for, this was no ordinary place where they could move on and find a shop to wait by where people stepped up to buy food and hopefully share with them some. This was nearly in the middle of nowhere, bounded by the river at one end, and a forest on the other, with life limited to housing quarters for the forest staff.

Nevertheless I understood why the dogs waited out their time at the lady’s feet as she tucked in her food.

Because What Human Beings Eat, Dogs Eat Too. At least most things, that is.

But What Elephants Eat, Dogs Don’t Eat. At least most things, that is. Surely not, Ragi balls.

So it was all the more reason why I was mighty surprised to find this dog below waiting in front of the elephant as it fed at its eating place.

Because What Elephants Eat, Dogs Don’t.

Ekdantha, or The Single Toothed One, was done with his bath in the river, and it was time for his breakfast of jaggery, and Ragi balls at the feeding area.

He stood still as the mahout fed him jaggery, and later allowed visitors to feed him some, including the large Ragi balls.

And in all that time, the dog stood to attention as Ekdantha ate his breakfast, reaching with his trunk for Ragi balls while lifting it to open his mouth for chunks of jaggery.

What was she thinking wanting to share in the elephant’s breakfast! Not surprisingly, nothing came her way.

Maybe Ekdantha knew that dogs don’t eat what he does, and hence didn’t throw any morsel her way.

Now that would be something.

This wise old dog below stood in silence, gazing at the river, or across it. I couldn’t tell for sure. But he neither waited in hope in front of human beings nor in front of elephants. Only hopeful of somehow finding his way across the river someday so he could have more options to try his luck with finding food.

Now that’s something to wait for and be hopeful about. After all, wisdom from age teaches one of the things to choose to wait for, and the things to be hopeful about.

Interviewed on BlogAdda: In the PART I of my interview they published today, I talk of my early influences in the context of travelling, the move to Mumbai from Goa, my reasons for starting blogging, the story behind the name: Windy Skies, and much more. It's a privilege to be featured by them, and has been a pleasure answering their questions.

Click to read PART I of my interview. Any feedback on the interview you might want to share, bouquets or brickbats, I’d be more than happy to see it on the BlogAdda interview page, and hopefully here as well.

PART II of the interview will be featured the next week. Thanks for reading, and for reading this space all these years.


Nona said...

There is a lot of emotion hidden in your words.

Ugich Konitari said...

Lovely post.

At all times the big ones manage. The small types, wait, for a possible chance. we are the dogs. The others are in Delhi. les hope that changes......

Anuradha Shankar said...

lovely! no one tells a story quite like you do! loved reading more about you on the blogadda interview too!

Anil P said...

Nona: Thank you.

Ugich Konitari: Thank you. True.

Size may not be everything, but it still is some things.

Is it any wonder that a dog was chosen express the sentiment Underdog!

Anu: Thank you for the kind words.

It's a pleasure learning you liked reading PART I of the interview.

marja-leena said...

This is an enjoyable read, seeing the world a little through the eyes of the dog.

And I enjoyed the interview, learning more about you. Looking forward to part II.

Congratulations on your upcoming book!

Lucy said...

Dogs are omnivores as much as carnivores, and have a sweet tooth, they'd probably happily eat the jaggery!

Lovely interview,particularly liked your lyrical Goa memories, and seeing your photo. Congratulations on the book, can I order a copy in Europe?

Connie said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I felt sad for the dogs. Being hungry and watching another eat isn't fun. I like your style of writing.

Riot Kitty said...

That's awesome, and congrats on the award! Well deserved.

Niamh B said...

My dog would eat anything!! Lovely pics and words as always, going to check out that interview now

Anil P said...

Marja-leena: Thank you. I'm sure we barely get to understand most of the things they see :-)

Nice to know you enjoyed reading the interview. Thanks.

The book, thanks for the good wishes.

Lucy: True, you're right about that. They're are omnivorous to an extent.

And most dogs will eat some of the processed food that even elephants would, could be biscuits, Chapatis among other things etc.

It's only in the natural world where they've to fend for themselves that their diets are usually mutually exclusive, neither eating the other's diet.

Thank you for your kind comment about the interview. Goa is such. There's an inherrent lyrical quality to many a moment there.

Thanks, Lucy. I think the book should be available in Europe. I'm not sure how the publishers are planning on distributing the book once it's published. I'll check with them.

Daisy: Thank you. It's sad indeed. I suppose it's never easy to live in an environment where they're almost entirely dependent upon the food that humans process, unlike say their wild cousins who'll survive in packs, hunting for their prey in the jungle.

Riot Kitty: Thank you :-)

Niamh B: Thank you. which means it isn't fussy about food, and that can only be a good thing.


Was so pleased to read part I of your interview on blogs da. You deserve the recognition. Congrats.

TALON said...

I can't help but wonder if the dog watching the elephant feed was thinking, "Hmmm...I guess it pays to be a big creature in this world." :)

I'll look forward to reading your interview, Anil.

I love how observant you are of people and creatures around you.

The dog looking over the river has a heart-breaking quality...

Sindhu Shankar said...

First picture - Hope makes the world go around, they say! Love the picture of the dog looking at/across the river...beautiful!

Balachandran V said...

I hope that lady caught dysentery! How can somebody be so callously indifferent!

Loved the theme and the photographs! You made me miss my Sancho so much!

Anil P said...

Raji Muthukrishnan: Thank you.

Talon: In the animal kingdom, size, teeth, and claws matter a great deal.

I suppose it's a natural consequence of meandering, pausing to watch the world go by, living the moments around one.

Yes, and the dog was looking over the river a long time.

Jil Jil Ramamani: Yes, hope does make the world go around. Remember the one in Hindi that goes - Umeed Pe Duniya Kayam Hai.

Balachandran: Oops! The dogs were endearing, especially the one hoping the elephant would share its breakfast with it.

Sarah Laurence said...

My experience is that dogs will eat anything. It's far more interesting watching an elephant eat. Fun to see them on your blog!

A Sunny Yellow Window said...

Great pics, and such a dear lil story! Off to read ur interview.

Red said...

Knew you through your pictures, nice knowing you through your words.

Grannymar said...

Another interesting tale. I love the interview and look forward to Part 2. I am learning more about you all the time.

Anil P said...

Sarah Laurence: They'll eat most things, with the possible exception of Ragi balls.

The elephant was tolerant of the dog, and they both were tolerant of me as I circled around with my camera.

Ambika: Thanks. Am glad you liked the story :-)

Iengar Chick: Thank you. But pictures will tell more truly of the person than words ever will :-)

Grannymar: Thank you. Nice to know you liked reading it.

TALON said...

Congratulations on the up-coming publication of your book, Anil! And what a wonderful and in-depth interview. I look forward to Part II.
I love how the title of your blog evolved :)

Lynn said...

Wonderful observation of the dogs and the eating lady. And I will read the interview shortly!

Donna said...

Your blog is fascinating! I will be back again!

ND said...

Hi Anil,
The interview and blog made for a nice read. Will look forward to your book. Dogs can be seem so human sometimes. The picture of the lady and the dogs says a million words. Almost reminds me of when you see a beggar approach you and you opt to look away because you dont want to encourage it. After some time you become almost desensitized to it. It can be rough to live a dog's life...

Anil P said...

Talon: Thank you. Nice to know you enjoyed reading the interview. The title is a call of the open road, no less :-)

Lynn: Thank you.

Donna: Thank you. You're welcome.

ND: Thank you.

Dogs are human in most ways, our understanding limited only by our inability to perceive their humanity.

Your analogy with the beggar is valid. 'Desensitized' is correct, and it applies to so many other instances now vis-a-vis human sensitivity.