Every square inch of Delhi is claimed by gangs of stray dogs who viciously and vociferously defend their turf. We humans go about our business, ignoring them or avoiding them or kicking at them, not knowing that there is a whole political structure to their world. The Hauz Khas Howlers guard the main market against territory incursions by the Gulmohar Growlers, while the Aurbindo Maulers and the Green Park Greyhounds maintaining a dumpster-sharing agreement in which the former is allowed access to the discarded chapatis on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and alternating Saturdays, during which time the latter stands guard to ensure no passing autorickshaw goes un-barked at.
The stray dogs live, love, and lie on the street; but their docile daytime trotting gives way to snarls and warfare at night, and the evening streets echo with their perennial power struggle.
Most stray dogs are ragged and haggard, with patchy fur and the vacant look of the perennially hunted. But outside our flat live three dogs who are stray in name only. Bruno, Signal, and Snoopy are strays who have been adopted by Amba, the Japanese translator who lives on the second floor of our building. What, you ask, is the difference between adopted and owned? The answer is where they sleep: Bruno, Signal, and Snoopy are fussed over and fed too much, but they aren’t allowed inside.
Fat from their lavish life, they spend their days napping, waddling from one nap to another, and biting the tires of passing cars. At night, though, the envy of strays who actually have to work for a living means their territory is constantly encroached, and that their vocal cords get the workout their muscles never do, usually right below our window.