We are now “godparents” to not one, but two puppies. The ladies talking care of Jadoo, whom they renamed Ramu, realized he was lonely (since he was screaming bloody hell at night) and brought his sister from the same litter to live with him. Once again, Sathya got to drive with a puppy in his car on the way to the vet (it was cheaper this time, go figure) who gave her her shots, dewormed her and gave us some vitamins since she’s anemic. Her name seems to be Pila. Visiting the pups is becoming the highlight of my days. Not only do the puppies like us, but the ladies working are slowing opening up to us. One speaks a few words of English and mimics what we say to the dogs. I asked her her name. Why Madam? I was taken aback by the question. Why would someone ask her her name? Why would someone pay attention to her? We had been referring to her as the one in the green sari, and her colleague as the tall one. After a week, that just wasn’t right. People have names. Even invisible people who work as gardeners, maids, rickshaw drivers, security guards, cashiers and construction workers. In return, she asked for my name. Now when we go there, the generic “Hi”, has become “Namaste Jyothi. Namaste Rada”, to which she replies, giggling “Namaste A.” She tells me when they run out of milk for the pups, and helps us find them when they go hide in the new shaded spot. I need to ask the night guard for his name next time I see him.
Yesterday, the black and yellow line along the sidewalk signifying you cannot park was being repainted. It didn’t need to. You could still see the very yellow and very black blocks, though it could have been washed to give it back some oompf. But water is scarce, so someone decided instead to have about 6 men repaint it. They were all sitting on the ground, each with a can of a gallon of paint, with a brush. I saw them on my way to the puppies, about 200 meters from my front step. I smiled, waved, mozzied on, and played with the puppies who are becoming true Indian dogs, doing nothing but sleep when it’s hot. I gave Pila her vitamins, scratched Jadoo’s ears and walked back home. One of the men sitting there, with a turban on his head, looked at me smiling and said: “Ma’m, piha”. Huh? Piha? What? Oh yes, Piha, I remember, Rosetta Stone Hindi, one of the first lessons. Piha or Piya or something like that means “drink”. He’s asking for something to drink. Darn, it’s 100 degrees outside, they are all sitting on the pavement under the sun with no shade nor water. They’re thirsty. I smiled, told him to wait a minute, I would come back. I got home, grabbed several 2-liter bottles of Aquafina, stuck them in the front basket of my little pink bicycle that hasn’t been used in a while and pedaled as fast as I could with a semi-flat front tire.
Our sidewalk now looks like a swarm of giant nuclear bubble bees missed their landing and crashed on the road.