Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I had a dog in my childhood. Her death caused me a lot of pain and ever since, I have shied away from keeping a dog as a pet. I still do love dogs, I surely do; and when I come across a dog, it so happens that he invariably wags his tail. I understand that the love is reciprocal. But now I am going to tell you a dog story, pardon me, in fact three dog stories.


Ever wondered who was India’s greatest dog lover? Many candidates will certainly vie for the distinction. I reckon that the erstwhile Nabab of Junagadh was simply the greatest dog lover India ever had. Before our Independence, Junagadh was a princely state ruled by the Nabab. He had an excellent kennel of Dogs, all prizewinners of the Bombay Kennel Club. He was indeed highly enamoured of his cherished collection. When India became independent, the Nabab opted for Pakistan. As Junagadh was surrounded on all sides by Indian territories, Sardar Patel, the the then Home Minister of India ordered him to sign the Instrument of Accession with India. The Nabab was reluctant and the Sardar issued an ultimatum. On the expiry of the time, the Indian Army marched into Junagadh and was on the verge of capturing the Royal Palace. The Nabab, being cornered, fled for Karachi, the nearest city in Pakistan. He had a small plane, piloted by an Englishman, and they boarded the plane, accompanied by the dogs, all forty of them! As the plane was taxiing for the takeoff, a Mercedes car arrived and halted near the tarmac. Four women in bukhas, bundled out and came pleading to the Nabab with folded hands. They were his wives, Begums to be more appropriate, entreating him to take them along to Pakistan. The Nabab coolly replied that there was no room for them and disappeared into the azure sky. He had space enough to carry his dogs but there was no room for his wives!


Max was an Alsatian aged five years. Born and bred in England he was a delight to his owner. But tragedy struck and fate played a nasty trick on Max. He developed what is called a behaviourial problem and bit two children and two adults. The local council implored Max’s owner to seek the help of the dog psychologist’s. In the UK there are psychologists for dogs, cats, horses and even women, women with implants and women without implants. Pardon me I am speaking of Orthopaedic implants like THR and TKR and not about any other implant that women don. So our beloved Max was duly taken to the psychologist and Max being Max, with a behavioural problem, duly bit the psychologist too. It was too much: Max had indeed crossed the Rubicon. Max had now to face a court of justice and the judge promptly ordered a two thousand pound sterling fine on the owner and had Max put to sleep. Rest in Peace Max!


What is it? Did I hear properly? I am not blind, am I? I have never heard of a dog test before. But there was a dog test and it was put to good use by a wise Englishman, who, in those days of the vanishing Empire, graced the chair of Surgery in the Medical College Calcutta. He had his residence-cum-chamber at Park Street. As he was the most reputed Surgeon in Eastern India, he was often asked to adjudicate in controversial cases of compensation. The Calcutta Tramways sent him a candidate who claimed he was totally incapacitated following an accident. The candidate was duly produced in front of Prof. Anderson, for that was the Surgeon’s name, in his Park Street chamber. The candidate had to be literally carried by three of his colleagues and was made to perch rather precariously on the chair. The Professor examined him thoroughly and was confounded, as he was not able to find any anomaly. It was evident that the candidate was unable to stand, leave alone walk. The Professor was at his wit’s end, when he had a superb idea. He got rid of the candidate’s attendants and called for his orderly Abdul. When Abdul answered from within, he asked Abdul, in Hindi, to fetch the dogs. Two ferocious Mastiffs, all growling and sniffing, came rushing in with Abdul holding the leash. The Professor next asked Abdul to let the dogs loose. As Abdul was untying the dogs, the candidate sprang up and rushed out of the room. Such indeed was his incapacity! Prof. Anderson wrote on the Register ‘Dog test done; it was positive: there is no incapacity in the candidate’.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Most Beautiful Woman

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to tell you the story of the most beautiful woman of the Twentieth Century, but on second thoughts I shall tell the story of the second most beautiful woman, as modesty will not permit me to name the most beautiful woman {I was married in 1977} of that era.

Kindly allow me to take you back in time to the middle of the last century, to a country which is very near the South Pole and whose footballers are its greatest ambassadors today. Yes your guess is right. I am speaking of Argentina and the year is 1952.

Argentina was then ruled by a benevolent dictator, if such a nomenclature exists, Juan Peron. His wife, Evita, the first lady was a darling of the masses; not only was she exceedingly beautiful but also was an accomplished singer with a gifted voice. She was highly popular and it was her wont to address the masses as her ‘shirtless children’. She constructed numerous hospitals and playgrounds for the poor.

In 1952 she died of cancer when she was hardly 32 years old. The whole country was shocked and there was a spontaneous outpouring of grief. The funeral cortege left the Presidential Palace, with military honours, traversing the streets of Buenos Aires to be buried in a graveyard some distance away. The funeral procession of Lady Diana comes immediately to mind. The throng crowded the streets to have a last glimpse o the coffin of their departed Evita.

But no one knew that the coffin did not have the mortal remains of the first lady. Then where was the body? It was right there in the Presidential Palace. Juan Peron loved his wife beyond death and was unable to be separated from her. He called the Professor of Anatomy from Cordoba, I apologise for forgetting his name, to mummify the body. It was done in utmost stealth and secrecy, and even the Palace attendants were unaware of the mission. The good Professor took exactly an year to have the body mummified and the flesh retained her living luster.

The best-preserved body in history, as claimed by many, is that of Comrade Lenin in Red Square, Moscow. But they, who were fortunate to have beheld both the bodies were of the opinion that the corpse of Evita was a thousand times better preserved and more lifelike.

But the story does not end here. Six years after her death there was a military coup in Argentina and president Juan Carlos had to flee the Presidential Palace in a private aeroplane. The military junta ransacked the Palace, searching each and every room, when they chanced upon the body. They were totally flabbergasted! It simply couldn’t be true: she was long since dead and safely buried. For identification they chopped off her right thumb and were then satisfied that it was indeed the remains of the erstwhile first lady.

The body was shifted to the national museum and was always under an armed guard.

But the ultimate tribute to her beauty and the ultimate honour to the professor’s genius was paid six years after her death, in 1958, when a top ranking Argentinean general was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for performing necrophilia on the corpse. Necrophilia, incidentally, means sexual violation of a dead woman.

So you agree that she fits the Bard of Avon’s description “age cannot with her, nor custom stale her infinite variety” to a pie.