The Hari Putar Dialogues - 14
(The Times of India, Tokyo, 16th July - Dog dancing is the latest must-do activity in this canine-crazy nation. Dancing lessons for pets joins a long list of things to do with your animal companion in a country where the pet industry is worth one trillion yen (nearly $9.5 billion) and where dog hotels, cafes and even dog-friendly cars are the norm. At dance class 'Wan Nyan World', which means 'Woof Meow' in Japanese, dog-lovers and their reluctant partners do a little waltz and a little dog-trot to ABBA's 'Dancing Queen'.)
Putar: According to a report in the Times of India today in Japan it has become the latest fashion to dance with your dog.
Hari: I read that story, putar.
Putar: The dog owner and his dog go to this dance class where the instructor will teach them how to dance with each other.
Hari: That is correct, putar.
Putar: Shouldn't a man prefer to dance with his wife or girl friend rather than his dog?
Hari: The two are not mutually exclusive, putar. You could dance with your husband or wife as the case may be but you could also dance with your dog. Even with both of them together.
Putar: What about the children?
Hari: Of course they can also join in, putar. A happy family and their pets all dancing together.
Putar: According to the newspaper report classes are held twice a month, and some couples even go on stage to display their skills. For a tasty treat, dogs learn to circle their owners and move between their legs.
Hari: It can be a profitable business, putar. Don't forget that according to the report Japan has more dogs and cats nationwide than children under 15. This is supposed to be the result of an ageing population and a declining birthrate. Animals are often seen on the streets of Tokyo, dressed up in clothes and being pushed about in strollers by their doting human "mothers".
Putar: Unlike the Japanese, the Chinese prefer to eat their dogs rather than dance with them.
Hari: It's true that dog meat is eaten in China, Korea and Vietnam.
Putar: Last week there was a report that the Chinese Government had banned the sale of dog meat in hundreds of restaurants in Beijing during the Olympics. They have done this out of respect for the feelings of dog loving foreign tourists who will visit their city during that period.
Hari: They are trying to be hospitable to guests, putar, otherwise an American tourist may order a Hot Dog in a restaurant and get a real Chinese version.
Putar: But what about the Chinese who want to eat dog meat during that period.
Hari: They can surely do without it for a few weeks.
Putar: A Chinese man who was interviewed said that he felt a wrong decision had been taken. He pointed out that when the Olympics were held in the West, those nations never banned the sale of pork out of respect for the feeling of Muslim tourists or the sale of beef out of respect for the feeling of Hindu tourists.
Hari: That's certainly a good argument, putar.
Putar: Perhaps the Chinese don't need to change their habits out of respect for the foreign tourists but it is the tourists who must learn to adjust. When in Rome do as the Romans, and when in China'
Hari: That can certainly be a point of view, putar.
Putar: Would you ever consider eating dog meat?
Hari: No chance of that.
Putar: Would you ever consider dancing with a dog?
Hari: I don't think so.
Putar: In some parts of the world human beings are starving or being killed in ethnic conflict, whereas in other parts of the world they live comfortable lives. So also in China dogs are eaten and in Japan they dance with their masters.
Hari: That's true, putar, but what are you trying to say?
Putar: Is the fate of humans so different from that of dogs, I wonder?
Hari: I guess not, putar.
Putar: Tell me something Papaji?
Hari: Bol, putar?
Putar: In Japan if a thief enters a home that has a dog at a time while the master is out won't the dog try to frighten the thief away by barking or trying to bite him?
Hari: That is correct. Dogs are expected to watch and guard over their masters possessions.
Putar: If the dog starts barking and snapping the thief may start jumping up and down trying to dodge him.
Hari: That's possible.
Putar: But this new training that teaches dogs to dance may end up confusing the poor animal.
Hari: How do you mean, putar?
Putar: Isn't it possible instead of continuing to attack the thief the dog may mistake the thief's movements for a dance, forget that the thief is an intruder and start dancing in tune with him instead?
Hari: I don't know, putar.