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It is a lovely morning to be out on the balcony. The dark clouds are a stunning sight to behold and the breeze is deliciously cool . I am back here after a couple of months. So, from my third floor perch, I watch with curiosity. What has changed, what has remained unchanged?

I make tiny noises to attract the attention of the little white Pomeranian in the yard of the house below. He seems to be an early riser. He looks up and stares at me debating what or who I am and whether the noises I am making deserves a reaction from him. Naah. He walks away ignoring me. I am crestfallen.

The last time I came to this place was the first I laid eyes on him. Before that there had been only the momma dog. She is the no-nonsense type, no truck with strangers, especially not the one with a practically torso-less head peering down from somewhere above and making weird sounds. She had barked at me then, making her displeasure known. Not so the sonny-dog. He had been more the I-am-willing-to-stretch-a-point-for-voices-coming-from-above-even-if-they-be-from-torso-less-heads type. Apparently today he is not in the mood to make such concessions. He walks away in search of more interesting things to do.

Disappointed, I go away to make tea. When I get back with a cheering cup, I can see there is a lot more happening. Women are out in droves, sweeping the yard, filling water, calling out to children, drawing kolam on doorsteps. I wonder where all the men are? Not a single one is about. Even the one ironing in the shop at the corner is a woman. Are they all sleeping still, waiting to be woken with hot tea made by wife/sister/mother? Then I see a lone one at the end of the lane, a boy with a plastic pot of water on his shoulder. Hmm…

Nearer, in the yard below, the dogs are both tied up and will be for the duration of the day. An old woman comes out and starts sweeping the yard. She sprinkles water in and around the gate and proceeds to draw a kolam. I marvel watching her hands make lines, straight and curvy, without faltering. She joins the ends with curves. She has used two colors, white and red. An intricate design takes shape right in front of my eyes. I wonder if my hands would be as steady if I tried making a kolam, and have to ruefully admit that then it would probably look like one drawn by somebody with ague.

A woman, the old one’s daughter or daughter-in-law, comes out of the house and chooses one from the many buckets and pots filled with water, takes it back with her inside. A girl of around 11 – 12 steps out wiping her face on the towel. She says a few words to the sonny dog who is so excited at seeing her and is standing on his hind legs, urging her to come closer. She laughs and going closer pets him. He rolls over on his back and looks at her adoringly.

This dog and girl love each other deeply. I have seen her return from school and go straight to cuddle and hug him, while he happily lapped up all that attention. The momma dog would be awaiting her turn to welcome the girl, wagging her tail in anticipation. But when the girl moved to her, little dog would be up in arms. Me, me, me. Pet, me, me, me, was his refrain. The girl would laugh and say, ‘didn’t I just pet you?’ but she would be back to give him some more hugs and cuddles. It was the same today. As soon as the girl moved away, the little fellow started fussing. I had half a mind to offer my services, except that the thought of climbing three floors back was pretty discouraging.

More dogs, the stray variety, are now coming out from the nooks and corners they have been spending the night in. and reclaiming spots in the street. There is a weak sun shining and they probably want to make the best of it before the next rain falls. Some of them are huge in size and look well-fed. One of them welcomed me last night, wagging his tail with total abandon. All I did was ask, “Olle, olle, olle, who’s this little fellow?” Dogs, why ever do they love humans so much?

Birds! The pigeons are cooing, the mynas are screeching. This time around I see no sparrows. A black kite flies so low and straight at me that for a moment I am alarmed. Nope, no pictures. For once I have traveled without my camera, which I am sure, is exactly why a jungle myna chose to sit on the swaying coconut leaf and tease me. There is a female asian koel going khi-khi-khi from yonder mango tree.

I notice that there are some new banana plants growing in the empty plot behind the next door apartment block. They weren’t there the last time. What about the rooster that crowed at all hours of the day? It is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it has been served at some table.

More clouds can be seen moving towards some unknown destination. Just like people, who have started coming out of homes, moving about on foot or on two-wheelers. Now I can see the men. Women are there too, going for work, children to schools and colleges. It is time for work, studies, and of course, blogging…

©Shail Mohan 2016

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