Bored-looking chained dog with chin to ground

Not So Boring

Maybe chained dogs

Don’t have it so boring and bad after all –

For sometimes, they’re chained to the gate,

And sometimes, to the wall.

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Logo for ALPHABEaT, the series about 'the A to Z of animal cruelty' on my blog

ALPHABEaT: Here’s Introducing…

Pair of bulls on an Indian field, with their mouths muzzled

26 ways in which humans are cruel to animals, huh? Actually, there are infinitely more, but if we had to profile all of them, we’d need to extend to another language. Plus, even talking of 25 more ways in which we are subjugating toward our fellow sentient beings than the only one we focus on – killing – is a lot. Yes, saving a cow from slaughter (a raging debate in India last year) but milking her till she can lactate no more is equally, and in fact, more cruel. Just as putting a rope through a bull’s nose and a wooden beam on his neck and making him till the soil in the heat with little or no rest, is too. As is keeping him tethered when he’s not slaving in the field. Or keeping a dog chained in the lawn of your house. Or caging a bird. Or… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Parrot in a cage near a roadside astrologerSo, 26 posts that will talk about a form of cruelty each that we inflict on our fellow furry beings. And maybe more – if I decide to repeat some letters (for as I already mentioned, our cruelty knows not the limits of the alphabet). And it may not always be ‘P for parrot’ (roadside astrologers in India keep parrots in miniscule box-cages, after clipping off their wings so that they can’t fly, to have them pull out tarot cards for people; seriously), but perhaps ‘P for pet’ (yes, the “loving act” of having a cat or dog at home has a lot of leading, and even, built-in cruelty). Come, open your books, and heart, and learn the ALPHABEaT.

About the name…

Apart from the ‘beat’, there is also the additional layer of ‘alpha’ – of how humans think they are the alpha species/animals, born/meant to dominate over all others.

About the logo…

The all-caps text and maroon colour of ‘ALPHABET’ are meant to indicate the presumed dominance of humans over other living/sentient beings. The lowercase ‘a’ that forms ‘ALPHABEaT’ depicts the size/stature of living/sentient beings in the eyes of humans, and the white colour their innocence. The smear of red obviously indicates all the cruelties we so generously dish out to them.

Logo for ALPHABEaT, the series about 'the A to Z of animal cruelty' on my blog

The tan background indicates the generalized/symbolized colour of both humans and animals, meaning that somewhere we are both of the same grain. The criss-crossing lines indicate two things. One, humans and animals’ paths are meant to intersect (we were meant to be on this planet together) and how we should respect that (animals do, but humans don’t). Two, the lines represent graphic crosses of sorts (that standing for ‘don’t’, not that for the trinity), indicating what we ought not to do to/with animals. Ah, but who’s listening? But maybe that’s why there’s this series.

Await the first letter then…

Close-up of eye of Moby Dick from the movie 'In the Heart of the Sea'

Irfanimals | In the Heart of Animals

Irfanimals Logo

Call me Ignoramus.

I love reading. I love animals. But… I… haven’t… read… Moby Dick. (A moment of silence.)

[I do know its opening line though, as you can see – that’s an old chestnut in school and college quizzes.]

Coming back, so, what I miss in books, I watch in the screen version – to figure out in 2-3 hours what the book/story is about. That way, if I like it, I try and ensure I go back and read the book.

So, while ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ didn’t work for me as a movie – found it yet another movie about American chauvinism (“Our whale, and oil, are bigger than yours”) – I could answer the question my friend posed me: “Why doesn’t he (first mate, Owen Chase) kill him (Moby Dick)?”

Chris Hemsworth with a hand-harpoon in the movie 'In the Heart of the Sea'

As an animal lover and one who believes, unlike what many people say, animals aren’t “voiceless” (they do speak, but in a language we don’t understand; and there’s also that other thing called non-verbal language), the answer to my friend’s question is simple, and based on what Moby had been doing all along.

The “whale farmers” have been plundering these giants of the sea for their gain (“to light their lamps”), and Moby, being the big bull he is (his body carries a sea of scars), fights back. “Get off the seas, stop killing my brood.” And when it becomes a matter of vendetta (One Man vs One Whale), Moby rises up and looks eye to eye with the first mate for 30 screen-seconds. “How is my family here, which you’re killing without any remorse, any different from the one you have back home, all those leagues away? What’s it going to take to stop? Seriously?” The first mate gets it. The tri-harpoon remains static in his hand. Moby goes back into the depths and the distance.

At the end, when Herman Melville, the author of the book, has got the narration he wanted from the last survivor, the cabin boy on the ship, Thomas Nickerson, the latter tells him in parting, “Someone’s struck oil in the desert. Oil from the earth… Who would have thought?”

And then, man stopped plundering the whales for oil, and started plundering the earth. No, wait, he continues going after the whales, now for many more reasons. We need another Moby Dick for this century.

Composite graphic image of a street dog looking supremely frazzled with two blank speech blurbs around him

A (Street) Dog Says “Thanks”

Thank God I’m not eaten in this country.

Thank God I’m only

Abused, Chained, Lashed,

Pelted, Kicked, Thrashed,

Trampled upon, Driven over,

Tied my tail up with a firecracker,

Caught for sterilisation, but returned to a different locality,

Caught, but returned with canine teeth broken so that I die gradually,

Caught, but never returned,

Caught, and (especially in Kerala) culled.

Thank God I’m not eaten in this country.

Wait, is Nagaland included in this territory?

This is perhaps the snarkiest piece I’ve written on my blog. It takes a hit at several issues:

  • Beef/Meat-eating (ban and killing): There’s a raging debate in the country over eating beef, as the cow is regarded a sacred animal by the majority community, and the right-wing party at the Centre is trying to bring many of its ideological sentiments (such as vegetarianism and Sanskritization) to the fore. There has been a call for a beef/meat ban during certain religious periods in some cities/states. Recently, a youth of the minority community was also killed on the suspicion that he was consuming beef during this period. (It later turned out to be goat meat. Ya, that absolves everything – on both sides.)
  • Not killing ≠ Caring: Many people think that as long as they are not killing animals, they are not harming animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I sometimes think it’s better to kill (and eat) that poor animal rather than keep it alive but as your slave in various ways.
  • Culling: Recently, the Kerala government decided to mass-cull street dogs to protect citizens from bites – and was throughout criticised for this, by citizens and politicians alike – but went ahead regardless.
  • North-East Indian; Non-Indian: Finally, there is that eternal issue of how people from the North-East states of India (including Nagaland) are viewed by people from the rest of India as more Chinese (or sympathetic to the Chinese) than Indian, due to their proximity to that country and their physical features. In fact, the North-East (where dog meat is considered a delicacy in some parts) does not come under the radar of most people and governments alike when they talk about the country and has not developed at the same pace as the rest of the country. So, now, what hope do people from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep have?