It was reported by a panicked resident that a tiger was spotted roaming outside the walls of Palms Residency Layout, Bangalore.
This obviously created panic in the community. There was hue and cry, and the Layout's\ social media group went berserk.
What are we doing to stop the tiger?, said one resident.
My dogs are very sensitive, they are at risk of dying when they hear the tiger's roars, said another. Why don't you buy earmuffs for your dogs, said another, very helpfully. This infuriated the dog owner and a fight ensued.
An environmentally conscious resident said that tigers are protected under Indian law, and she would call in the SETDA ( Society for Ethical Treatment of Dangerous Animals) if anyone said anything which hurt Tiger Rights. A huge discussion ensued on tiger rights and privileges.
Over the course of the few days when these discussions took place, the tiger was not seen again. Meanwhile, the dog owners had picked up a fight with the SETDA activists over the issue whether dogs could be considered as dangerous animals, and there was another discussion, not yet concluded, on which brand of earmuffs are suitable for dogs. Meanwhile, one resident pointed out that "dogs are dangerous animals!", at least the way she viewed it. This resulted in a huge backlash – realising that she might be ostracised if she continued voicing such view, that resident shut up.
The tiger roared again. This time, three residents were positive they had heard it.
"It came from near the Railway Tracks", said one.
"No no, what you heard was the sound of a train", said another.
"What do you mean, do you think I am deaf?", said the former and a fight ensued.
A lot of allegations of deafness, blindness, and dumbness were exchanged in an increasingly acrimonious debate - all this on WhatsApp of course. The SRL activists - Society for Respectful Language - kept repeatedly intervening to say that deaf was a disrespectful term, the residents should learn to say "hearing challenged", and rather than "blind", "visually challenged" was more appropriate.
"What has this got to do with Tigers" mumbled the Oldest Resident, but kept his thoughts to himself. The Oldest Resident, being wise, had long passed the age where he wanted others to hear his views; he preferred watching the people around and reading the WhatsApp posts – these afforded him enough amusement and a number of stories to swap with his friends when they met for the weekly Friday evening drinks sessions at the Clubhouse.
Since a few days had passed since hearing the roar, the issue took a backseat.
Meanwhile, there was report of a tiger sighting in Delhi. This was in a colony on the outskirts, near Chattarpur. The residents of Chattarpur, it is rumoured, hired a tiger hunter, and the tiger was spotted and killed in a day. Since this is of course illegal, no one in Chattarpur was willing to go on record or say anything. However, since that day, no tigers have been spotted near Chattarpur.
Meanwhile, in Palms Residency, one resident had started to keep raw meat every night outside the Layout's walls. He claimed it was for the stray dogs, but some people suspected that he was a closet tiger lover and the food was meant for the tiger.
"You are encouraging stray dogs", said one dog lover, "and they bring in germs which are harmful to our dogs".
What about the germs that your dogs carry, to which some of us humans are allergic, thought the oldest resident, but did not voice it out aloud. One of the reasons he had succeeded in living to a ripe old age was by avoiding situations in which he could get lynched.
A big fight ensued over the right to feed stray dogs. The stray dog ( or tiger, no one knows) lover sent a legal notice to the Association warning them , quoting sections and subsections of the law, that anyone harming stray dogs physically or verbally, or preventing someone from feeding stray dogs, could be jailed for six months.
The tiger roared again.
This time ten people thought they had heard it.
Let us have an urgent meeting to discuss this, suggested one panicked resident.
No, we should have an Extraordinary General Meeting, EGM, said another, very procedurally conscious resident.
But that needs 21 days' notice!, pointed out another, and this is an urgent matter!
The debate on whether an EGM was needed or not to discuss the tiger issue raged for a few days.
Meanwhile, the Layout Poet, a retired corporate executive with lot of time on his hands penned a poem.
Tyger Tyger, roaring loud,
Quite close, outside the layout,
What mortal mind or eye,
Would not turn panicky?
Not distant, but near the tracks,
Where art thou, where is thy lair?
The residents are all astir,
Discussing on WhatsApp!
William Blake will be turning in his grave, commented the Oldest Resident, wryly , wincing while reading the poem. I don't know which is worse, the dog lovers or the poet! But he didn't say it in anyone's hearing.
Several years back, we had a tiger sighting, and the Committee had been tasked with solving the problem. But the Committee did nothing. The Committee never does anything. Said one disgruntled old resident.
What do you mean, the Committee does nothing, said another old resident, who had served on several past committees. He went on to list ten good things the committee had done in the last ten years. This resulted in an all out WhatsApp war. For each of things he listed, there were views on whether it could be considered a good thing or a bad thing, about how he was wrong, about how his memory was playing tricks on him, and about the time his dog had bitten the neighbour's kid. This time, the committee members, the ex-committee members ,the dog lovers, the language activists – everyone got into the debate. The poet got the opportunity to write ten poems, none of which anyone read, but everyone got up all heated and ruffled under the collar.
A few months passed since the first roar was heard, and people forgot about the incident.
And then it happened again. Five residents having a drink together late at night swore they had seen a shadow flit by that looked like a tiger.
Do not harm the tiger, warned the SETDA activist.
Let's call an EGM, said the procedurally conscious member.
Ah, let me write a poem, said the poet.
I hope we are meeting this Friday for our regular drinks session, asked the Friday drinkers of one another, no tiger is going to stop us right?
And life goes on… sighed the Oldest Member, with a sense of Déjà vu.
Love it, Dinesh. Took me back to reading Mulliner shorts by PGW.
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