After being in the small Indian town of Hampi for nearly three weeks, Lisa and I had peeled through and exhausted all forms of literature in our possession. Apparently, it was time to hit the bookstore. We remembered seeing one not too far from our hotel, so we set out to grab some piles of pages to pacify us on our upcoming (twenty-six hour) train ride to Delhi. Our mission began with a left turn onto a chossy Hyderabadi sidewalk. We dove into the churning sea of what we have come to accept as a typical Indian street scene – wave after wave of sweaty humans threatening to topple us over – the undertow of shouting rickshaw drivers, careening motorbikes, and blasting horns grab at our bodies and drown our senses. The only way to survive is to surrender to the flow.
Not two minutes had passed when I felt a sharp and piercing pain in my left leg, followed by about twenty pounds of dead weight trying to stretch my skin. It was as if I walked into a piercing shop and asked for a heavy gauged needle to be threaded through my kneecap and accessorized with a bowling ball. I sharply blurted out a “What the hell!” then looked down and discovered the bag of mange that was clamped onto my leg.
I immediately began to shake my leg violently, but the scrappy monster had a solid grip and hung on for the ride. Locked away somewhere in the instinctual part of my brain, I had a plan for just such an occasion and I was able to access and process this plan in the span of about two seconds. Honestly, I had no idea my brain operated that fast anymore. Locking out my left leg and swiftly spinning clockwise on the ball of my right foot (speed aided by the greasy pavement no doubt), I flung the little bastard from his crushing grip. Landing on all fours, he stood about four feet before me. This was the first time I actually got a good look at him. Patches of bare black skin shown through the brown muted fur of what just might have been one of the ugliest stray dogs in all of India. He was a little guy – about nine months old, but as mindlessly ferocious as an undersexed, juiced-up frat boy. His foamy jowls were pulled tight, bearing his toothy weapons as he stared up at me. He has already tasted my blood, and I can see he is about to come back for more. Waiting for him to turn broadside, I chambered my kick, then let my sandled foot fly into his boney ribcage. He was airborne for about five feet before skidding down on the sidewalk’s opposite side. Defeated, he let out a whimper and disappeared back into the sea of Indian legs.
Marveling at the fact that I had never actually punted a dog before, I felt a small sense of Cro-Magnon pride for defending my mate and scaring off the wild beast. I hadn’t noticed the circle of people that stood watching the flying dog act. I wondered if they had seen the dog attack, or if they had just seen some white guy kick a poor defenseless animal into the street. I pray for the former, because I am greatly outnumbered here. Instantly, they lose interest. No concern is shown for the dog – or me for that matter.
Lisa inspected the leg of my now shredded (and only) pair of pants to check out the damage. They were covered in some sort of black frothy goo. “My God, what the hell has this little bastard been eating?” I asked, praying not to hear a reply. Rolling up the pant leg, we took a look at the rest of the collateral damage. I was bleeding, but not much. Just four small punctures encircled with red, soon to be bruises, showed around my left kneecap. “God damn hell hound – I should go finish him before he bites some kid’s face off. Where the hell did he come from anyway?” Lisa explained that he was just trotting along, happily walking towards us when he turned and pounced on me. “Must not like whiteys., the damned racist mutt,” I shakingly joked. “Off to the pharmacist for you,” laughed Lisa. Lucky for us, we knew the drill. Our friend Alonzo was bitten by a stray dog in Hampi and had to undergo the same rabies vaccination process that I would now have to endure – five shots over the period of a month. It’s not so much painful as it is a hassle. We all had a great time laughing at poor Alonzo’s expense. Unfortunately, rabies jokes are so much fun, but Karma is such a bitch.
Now, I’ve been an animal lover ever since I was a kid. I remember one time when I was about seven years old, my folks brought me to the Jersey Shore. There were these children about twice my size who were using sticks to stab and chop the jellyfish that washed up on the beach. So, I ran up to the group of savages, placing myself between the pointed sticks and directionally challenged invertebrates and demanded that they stop this madness at once. I was promptly pushed into the water and stung by several jellyfish. It seems that animals just don’t care.
My leg - post chomp.