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The canine dialogue

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Cats are clever and intelligent. It is not good to make dogs and cats fight each other, we are all Indians together

As frequent readers of this column know, when I find that things have become too complicated to understand, I go to visit my old friend Busybee, who now lives in an apartment far above the flat that my friend has on the 21st floor.

As I entered the flat, I heard the familiar “woof woof" of the dog (whose name is Bolshoi the Boxer) as he rushed towards me, greeting me like an old, long-lost friend.

“Hello, Bolshoi, have some sweets, good boy," I said, and opened the packet of Shrewsbury biscuits that I had brought from Pune to give him one. I took one myself. Bolshoi shook his head and growled, and said, “Biscuits are bad for you. They are against Indian culture. You should eat nan-khatai."

Dogs are dogs and Bolshoi was a rather special dog, but this was too much. “Dogs don’t argue and Shrewsbury biscuits are good for you," I said. “Now go, fetch me that newspaper."

Bolshoi raced ahead on all fours and brought me the newspaper and I sat down to look for news between the large ads and larger photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I have an idea for the prime minister," Bolshoi said.

“Mr Modi is a busy man with many important advisers. Dogs don’t have ideas and Mr Modi doesn’t want a dog to think," I said.

“But my idea will remove all his problems at once," Bolshoi said.

“Dogs can’t talk and the prime minister doesn’t need your advice. He doesn’t even need Arun Shourie’s advice, and Mr Shourie is the cleverest man in his party, so why should he need yours?" I said.

“If Mr Modi does what I tell him to do, he will not need to take these medicines from Baba Ramdev," Bolshoi said.

“You can’t insult Baba Ramdev," I said. “Now don’t talk so much, I’m trying to read what Ms Tavleen Singh has to say."

“It is typical of you to read gossip columnists when the country is facing a grave crisis and dogs like me have to do all the thinking," he said.

“You should think of yourself as being very lucky. If you talked like that outside on the streets, people will throw stones at you, and even General V.K. Singh won’t help you," I said. “Now go, chase after cats."

“Cats are clever and intelligent," Bolshoi said. “It is not good to make dogs and cats fight each other, we are all Indians together. You should stop reading childish columns and instead read good novels about cats, like Nilanjana Roy’s The Wildings or The Hundred Names of Darkness."

“Only Chetan Bhagat knows how to write novels that we Indians want to read. You are a dog with a Russian name, how will you understand?" I said.

“My name may be Russian but I am an Indian," he said quietly. “I want you to change my name to something purer, something Indian—like Bhuleshwar, not Bolshoi."

“Are you totally mad? That is the name of a place, not of a person," I said.

“Bolshoi is the name of a kind of dance, not a dog," he said.

“You are such a stupid dog," I said. “And you still think you have an idea for the prime minister?"

“Because it will solve his biggest headache," he said.

“You know, the prime minister has no time for dogs," I said. “He has to send out so many tweets, change clothes several times a day, and post his selfies, that even after Sadhvi Prachi says something, it takes him 10 days to respond. Why would he listen to you?"

Bolshoi lowered his head and curled up in the corner, looking unhappy. “Mr Modi doesn’t like dogs," he said softly to himself.

“No, no," I said. “Who said he doesn’t like dogs? He has said that if he is in a car and if a puppy comes under the wheel, it will be painful. He is a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad."

“If he listens to my idea, he will be so happy," Bolshoi said.

“OK, tell me, what do you want to tell him?"

Bolshoi smiled. Means, he did not smile, because dogs cannot smile, but he looked like he was smiling. He said: “He should appoint Gajendra Chauhan as the governor of the Reserve Bank. That way, he gets rid of Raghuram Rajan and it also solves the crisis at the Film Institute."

“What?" I said. “Are you out of your mind? If I tell Mr Giriraj Singh, he will send you to Pakistan."

“That would be great," he said. “Then I can see all the films of Shah Rukh Khan, read Vikram Seth’s poems and Krishna Sobti’s novels, and listen to Ghulam Ali’s ghazals and Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod. What is there not to like?"

“Then what will I do?"

“You can watch Anupam Kher’s films and read Chetan Bhagat’s novels," he said.

Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London. Your comments are welcome at salil@livemint.com

To read Salil Tripathi’s previous columns, go to

www.livemint.com/saliltripathi

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