I was in a train one evening a couple of weeks ago. And folks, what an ill-at-ease mood within the passengers. Mind you, not the way it is - to “relax” these days. Everyone glued to their phones, texting, watching video clips -and that sort of scenario. Usually this is not relaxation; but, normal 2017 public behaviour.
For the first time here was a scene where no one was stuck and affixed to their mobile screens. Instead all stared at a grey animal. Yes, you heard me. A dog. The conversation was led by three travellers: a lady and two males.
“She is lovely.”
The stranger stretched his hand for the dog to lick. Tongue out. He let the back of his palm be wetted and well...
The dog licked and slurped and moistened and licked, while everyone else watched amused, smiling, beaming, loving it.
Close by, observing and equally enthused and mesmerised, the man with the dog held the leash, as it is custom in public here in the Western world.
“Love at first sight. She likes you.”
“What is her name?”
“Oh Cherry, come here good girl. Go on. Don’t be shy, oh come on. (Giggle) ...She is so cute.”
Beaming watching faces throughout the compartment.
“How old is she? “
“Only 8 months.”
“Woow. Big girl.”
“Yes she is,” said the dog owner’s female companion, caressing her back, “She is going to be a monster. Aren’t you, Cherry?”
Feeling loved and appreciated, Cherry wagged her tail, while hopping across the three humans, her owner, the companion and stranger. The Stranger continued to fondle Cherry’s head and ears while she kept on tonguing his palm.
“He almost looks green,” Stranger said, as he massaged the animal’s neck.
They laughed. Everyone else smiled and exchanged glances. Green indeed.
The dog was grey; remember I said at the start.
I wondered where The Green came from, but looking more distinctly it was obvious the animal’s grey fur shone. Hey if you switch on the scientific zone of your brain, it happens sometimes. It is called mirage. A colour bounces off to give other colours. Green dog. Ha, ha, ha.
Beside me set a black woman. Reading a newspaper and like me, watching everything. The tendency is for us blacks to be wary of touching dogs. But this is deceptive. Not all blacks are wary of touching dogs.
“Tends to be you Africans,” someone from the Caribbean once said to me.
“And some Asians...”
Interesting to see the way everyone was enchanted by the green, oops, grey puppy. As I have written in this column many times- over the years- there exists all sorts of levels to this dog versus human’s relations, overseas. The fondness for animals, i.e. domesticated pets like dogs, is quite fascinating and brings out strong cultural differences.
As the three individuals went on discussing and talking about Cherry, the woman beside me was getting restless, as she was quite close to the small drama. Each time the trio fondled and caressed and let the animal kiss their limbs she became more at ease and thus began moving around wanting that love from everyone else.
Maybe I was wrong, but it felt that way. Love brings out freedom in all creatures, plants included.
The black woman stood up and went to another part of the carriage. Now that was something. I have seen more of this in Germany where pets are allowed into restaurants. Fortunately, that is not the case in London.
Generally the whole scenario fascinated me on two levels.
Strangers do not talk and communicate that quickly. The animal, sorry, Cherry, sort of brought everyone together like a small temporary family on an exotic island sharing brief moments; interlude; of joy and affection. This is very fascinating as most of the time, everyone is locked like dogs (that have just mated), to their mobile devices. According to a recent research by Casumo.com, one fifth of phone users are now injured because of texting or watching screens as they walk.
Robot culture in the making.
The other level as you might expect is cultural.
Letting a dog kiss your hand and carry on without minding the hygiene is...how should I put it? Whenever I raise this subject with my Wazungu friends they reprimand by saying we should not be too afraid of germs.
“If you are too worried about bacteria you will be sick. You need to get used to the bacteria so your body can fight back diseases and harmful viruses.”
Like a Nigerian friend of mine once said regarding this matter. We have such a different view of cleanliness....