Sunday, July 5, 2015

From ‘mad dogs and an Englishwoman’ by Crystal Rogers

A number of youngsters…would approach me for guidance on how to conduct themselves abroad …..I …put together an informal presentation on general etiquette… Out of this last chapter I will quote:
Perhaps one of the most important things at any social function in the West is to show yourself to be a good and attentive listener.
I hope I may be forgiven for saying that up to this point I have not found this quality in most of the Indians whom I have had dealings with……

The cruelties of the West are different from the cruelties of the East.
For far too many years, I have seen the barbarous methods by which animals are slaughtered in the reeking abattoirs and alleys of Indian cities. The cruelty involved in the transport of domestic animals, the terrible distress and terror of monkeys exported for medical research. The hunger, misery and bewilderment of animals turned adrift because they no longer serve any useful purpose. The agony of sick and lame draft animals who are still made to work, beaten and over-loaded…. But do not imagine that the West is any less cruel. It is equally so. While putting up a show of being humane, behind closed doors, where none may see, the blackest and most unforgivable crimes are committed.
The West must bear the burden of guilt for the inexpressible horror of, amongst other things, killing animals for the sake of vanity. A whole fashion industry grew and flourished around the slaughter of small, defenceless animals like minks, rabbits and the red fox…..
….The testing of many cosmetic products is performed on unsuspecting animals …..The exploitation of animals for amusement is yet another nightmare …circus …What the spectator does not see….is how that training has been done.
How the whip has been cracked with lethal force on a lion’s back.
How a heavy stick has been smashed on a baby elephant’s rump.
How the seal plucked out of the vast, cold waters of the Pacific has been shoved into a pool the size of a child’s playpen.
How the chimpanzee has been smacked mercilessly when it has shown reluctance to conform to the rules of the house.
How the spirit of each animal has been crushed and squeezed out till all that is left are the hollowed bodies of furry puppets.

….. vivisection laboratory ……what I did see was a gathering of abject, miserable animals who had lost their freedom for ever and knew deep within their frightened little hearts that they were on death row….

…..Ella Wheeler Wilcox….
So many faiths, so many creeds,
So many paths that twist and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world really needs.

The climate of Bangalore was pleasant and I found the people friendly. But the plight of animals remained uniformly pathetic across the length and breadth of India.

Some friends had advised that I return to England. I couldn’t even think of it. India is a strange phenomenon. It settles over one as soundlessly as mountain mists, as invisible as evening dust. The joy of India is in a bite of a firm, green guava sprinkled with rock salt. The unintelligible cries of the sabziwala as he trundles his cart over potholed streets. The chaos of babblers and sparrows as they wake up entire colonies on sweaty mornings. The sight of shiny, brown-skinned boys jumping into a canal for an afternoon swim. The pungent smell of fires burning on street corners on cold evenings, where men gather round and gossip about the day’s happenings.

I could not and would not leave India. I have loved it with all my heart. I have been welcomed by the country and its people without hesitation. Yes, of course, there is much to criticize and condemn, but there is much more to appreciate and treasure.

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