I had been all set to write about the first-ever, absolutely fantastic Zoom call for a Lalit central committee meeting yesterday – and how happy an event it was, and how laid-back and how, at the end of the meeting, how good it was to see the Lalit dog Larrki doing a guest appearance and being on best behavior with her triste figure and all, in the square of the Zoom film-set in Rajni’s house, where Larrki has resided since the last lockdown left her high and dry in Grand River, where instead of having 20 or so “masters” (of all sexes), she was left with none, so severe was the lockdown, and how I planned to avoid doing digressions into all the past Lalit dogs while mentioning Larrki, Lalit being a party that always has dogs – and how I would not go into how sometimes instead of, in the party’s Diary Book, being able to read entries like, “Don’t miss the Opposition Leader’s press conference at 4 pm” or “See invitation in Diary to Forum in Flacq on Thursday where Lalit member x is speaking” or whatever, you read things like, “Larrki (or Julie, or Beauty, or Gro Lulu or Ti-Lulu, or Beti) has had her breakfast” or “Larrki escaped overnight and was found again at Sab Nwar in a big assembly of dogs” or at the most dramatic, “Julie captured by dog lorry. In dog pound at Plaine Verte. Madu and I gone to get her” or at the most tragic, “This was the day Beauty was run over by a mini-van.”
The best-made plans of mice and men.
So, instead of telling about the Zoom call, and avoiding digressions into dog stories, I have woken up to having to tell you about the bad night we had because of a serious dog wedding in Ragoo Lane.
So, it comes back to dogs again. “Man’s” best friend.
The “wedding”, as these events are wittily called in Kreol, kept us all awake all night. Literally. This morning, instead of asking Ram, “Have a good night?” I turn to him and say, “Evolution gave dogs a bad deal”, and Ram replies, “A high price to pay for natural selection.” I laugh out aloud. I still don’t know if he meant the price was high for the dogs or for us. When he proof-reads this, he will no doubt tell me.
Anyway, because of intermittent rain falling last night, the dogs decided to assemble, the whole motley crew gathered not only from Ragoo Lane but from Allée Tamarin and Rut Vaudagne around a popular girl-dog, right in our car port, which is only a matter of feet from Ram and my bedroom windows, where the males then fought each other loudly and in bad temper, bumping into my car with a big “bonk” sound every now again against the metalwork, to add to the barking, growling, and then howling-at-injuries racket. Plus the incessant snapping into the air of a young male left out of the proceedings by his lack of experience, meaning he didn’t know what else to do. And just when we would begin to get used to all this racket, and start to nod off, we got jumped awake by the impatient and truly chilling sound of a no-nonsense bitch, fed up with all this business, saying, “Step back, guys! Or else!” That’s why they are called bitches. (That’s another example of Mauritian humour.)
Anyway, that is when there’s a bit of silence.
But not for long.
Our two adolescent dogs, though females, Lock and Down, registered in Kreol spelling as “Lok” and “Dawn”, then decide that the presence of this wedding is an affront to their territorial integrity and they begin to protest with their own barking match from inside our fencing, saying “Go, mess about somewhere else!”
Ram and I used to reverse into our parking spots out front, which fall into the “outside” of our fencing, to our neighbours’ incomprehension. This way, parked boot-side inwards and down, it is safer when we are setting off, to go out into Ragoo Lane forwards. But then what happened is Ragoo Lane dogs began, at night – just to pass the time – to climb on top of Ram’s car to play. Right up on top of the car. There they would go, playing “I am king-of-the-castle! You’re the dirty rascal!” They jump up on the bonnet, then jump up on the roof, making “bonk” “bonk” sounds as the metalwork would kink inwards and then bounce outwards again, as they played. They are big dogs. And Ram’s white car would, by morning, be full of muddy dog foot prints on the bonnet, the windscreen and the roof. So, he started to park forwards, nose-down, so the slope is the wrong way for them. And it worked. They stopped.
After a few months’, however, the dogs realized they could play the same game on my little blue car, still parked bonnet outwards. Why not? So, I was the one that had big muddy dog-paw prints all over my bonnet, windscreen and roof every morning. But that was not all. Talk about taking advantage. One night, during this second lockdown, they set about biting my front mudguard off. So, when I went out into the road (forwards, still), there was a loud sound. A neighbour walking past, the uncle of the laureate from Ragoo Lane – how’s that for names-dropping – stopped and said, “Your whole mudguard has got disconnected!” Then we saw the scratch marks. He and Ram managed to get the mudguard back in place. So, now I obviously park nose forward and downward, too.
And then they go hold weddings around my car, bumping into the sides and keeping us awake all night?
Maybe I now understand the neighbours’ incomprehension that we planned out cars outside our fence.
Anyway, if we had had the Zoom meeting this morning, we would both have looked like something the cat dragged in.
And, to get back to yesterday’s Zoom meeting, at the very end, Ram presiding – it was his turn because in Lalit, the political bureau is central committee members by rotation by first letter of alphabet of surname, not unlike shopping days – as though he had presided Zoom meetings his whole life, giving the floor to this one and that one, in turn, and cracking the odd joke as usual, causing others in the meeting to laugh so much that others still said, “Do you mind please muting your mikes!” – everyone, in turn, did an evaluation of the meeting. Some said they really enjoyed seeing and hearing all the others in a group. One member participated as a sub-set of Rada’s Zoom window, and spoke to us (and was seen by us all) from his WhatsApp via Rada’s cellphone! We were sad, some said, that four members were not in on the call – one was in mourning for loss of a brother, one had Wi-Fi problems that day, and two have not got the technology up and going yet. Others said, they enjoyed the bit where each person had given an idea of what was happening in their own lockdown experience – how everywhere supermarkets were so quiet and peaceful (after the rush because of a rumour of a lockdown, once the real thing happened, all was tranquil), and how Kisna, who had to go fetch routine medicines from the eye-hospital (all free and perfect) had gone by bus through Canot, which is cordoned off by police road-blocks because of the Covid cluster there, and how Anne-Marie had an ordinary hospital rendezvous, where all was in order, speedy and efficient (and, of course, free), and so on. Most evaluations were political – saying how a whole year had been lost, when the economy could have been diversified away from tourism and failing products like sugar cane, and into proper food production, or saying how, when you have a Government with no real economic strategy, it is bad enough, but when the Parliamentary Opposition has even less, it is truly deplorable. But that a crisis like an epidemic really shows up the bankruptcy of capitalism – for all who want to see, to see. Other members enjoyed Ram’s update on the situation of the epidemic. Said it would help them in their explanations to their families. And was good background on vaccines. Others were pleased to have learnt that most members present on the Zoom call have been vaccinated, all the rest plan to get vaccinated, they say, at the first opportunity offered. Some liked the international update. Some actions were decided, too – one on local politics, and one on Palestine support. Gary had, for some reason, disappeared before evaluation – maybe he thought it was over, maybe his Wi-Fi* disappeared or he had a power outage. Alain’s sound reception was very low-volume, so he had to get really close to his screen to hear and this made the picture of him blurry. All-in-all, it was really a pleasure. An inspiration. And this was unexpected for me. I had thought it would be a technological nightmare. In fact, we had set aside half-an-hour to get going. But we were all so tech-savvy that it took all of five minutes. With the patient guidance of our capable expert in such matters, Rada. (As editor, don’t edit this compliment out, Rada!)
PS – Gary, you’ll be pleased to know, that when I wrote “wifi” it got automatically corrected, instead of to “Wi-Fi”, to “wife”. Ram, on proofreading, asked if I thought Gary would like being given a wife only to have her disappear.