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SEEMA MUSTAFA | 23 JANUARY, 2015

Woof! Woof! President Barack Obama is in Town

Belgian Malinois---K-9 soldier


So the President of the United States Barack Obama is coming to town. And its a time for big bucks and cheer, as journalists, foreign office officials, businessmen, led by our honourable politicians line up in anticipation. And just in case you have missed it---but you will have to be the ignoramus of the decade if you have after being bludgeoned on the head with it on a minute by minute basis---he has done us the honour of visiting us twice. No other US President has done that. So India has arrived!! And you better believe it if you are a ‘nationalist’, there is no room here for dissenting voices.

First came the advance teams...the security guys who by all accounts have put our chaps on the run. There are these photographs of the lean and mean Americans trying to make sense to our pot bellied cops, as accents clash, and neither understands the other. One thinks that after trying a few ‘no’s’ in the beginning that needed explanations, our security succumbed and replaced it with the infinitely easier ‘yes’. So now they have the run of things, while Indian cops and paramilitary walk behind, nodding vigorously, heads bobbing in all directions a the Americans would say, and looking more and more incompetent as the days go by.

A happy picture was that of US security personnel clambering into rickety boats to scour the Yamuna river lest there were some terrorists hiding in the garbage and the slime inside the rivers.This was the only picture I could find where our chaps looked a little happier than usual at the American discomfiture to find themselves in boats they would have not allowed into their country. The airport has been taken over by American security, so have the roads, so has maybe Rashtrapati Bhawan who knows.

In the midst of this is the little story about the dogs that have come from the US. They all have officer rank status, they are being housed in suites in the Maurya Sheraton and really give the gravitas and the substance to this security bandobust. The dog officers of the K-9 elite squad of the US Secret Service have arrived. Belgian Malionois dogs --Jordan and Hurricane named the Presidents best friends along with ‘officers’ Rock and Fredrick-- are here as part of a 20 strong canine contingent that will be pressed into service as it were on Republic Day. They are said to run fast and have a deadly bite, and will also help the humans look for bombs and dynamite.

But while this sounds good one wonders what happens when chasing a supposed intruder Jordan comes across a feminine Indian stray. And what happens when this pretty little stray decides to challenge the huge American officer as he runs behind the ‘intruder’? And what if the other strays in the vicinity respond to her, and join to attack Jordan as the intruder in their territory?

Or again what happens if Hurricane, not used to Indian smells that waft their way through every available inch of air space, finds his nose blocked. And cannot distinguish between the ‘aromas’ and the smell of a bomb? While in Rashtrapati Bhawan there is no danger of Hurricane being distracted by the aroma of good food, but this could certainly pose a problem in Hyderabad House. The smell of spices could come in the way of duty, and we might have an officer here who could, just could, discard the training for his natural instinct. And follow his nose so to speak!

This dog squad joins the elite service in the constabulary and then graduate through the various officer ranks. Clearly the 20 selected for India are high ranking chaps, as they will all be living in a luxury hotel with their wish a command. They are used to more sanitised surroundings and hence the hurly burly of a Republic Day parade with screaming children, and squealing wives----we Indians love to scream in fear when we even see a dog at a distance---could prove to be a major trauma. The sound of Indians in a crowd is disconcerting for even many who are born and brought up here, what to speak of US officers who like to carry out their deadly jobs amidst civilised sounds and crowds. So just when Rock thinks he has detected something that needs further investigation, a screaming child wanting an icecream immediately would make even the toughest balk. And Rock’s instinct would be to run, in the opposite direction. Or perhaps, in an act of bravado that he is famous for, he might decide that the child is the intruder, and exercise his famous deadly bite!

Well thats all we Delhiwalas can do. The roads are jammed, all traffic is diverted, markets and residences are under security inspections including poor Shahpur Jat as President Obama will be speaking somewhere near the vicinity. So we have only two options beginning now, One pack and leave the city as many wise ones are doing. Or burrow in with books and music, and think up possible situations that might arise when the dog squad moves into action. They are after all the only innocents looking for little more than a delicious steak at the end of the day.

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