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Dog days no more: Saket strays find mother figure in rag-picker

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By Muhammed Zulqarnain Zulfi 

New Delhi: Adjacent to the PVR Anupam miltiplex in south Delhi’s Saket neighbourhood stands a tin shack on wooden slabs and decorated with a few torn rugs. In and around this shanty, stray dogs can be seen walking around like disciples of a holy saint.

The shanty belongs to Pratima Devi, who looks older than her 61 years. She has lived here for more than three decades and is a ragpicker. Better known as Amma in the neighbourhood, she earns only to look after hundreds of dogs in the locality.

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“I look after over 400 dogs – about 200 around my home. Others are scattered in the courtyard of the PVR complex up to J-block (a little over half a kilometre away). My dogs never bite. They have been sterilised and vaccinated by the MCD (civic body),” Pratima told IANS.

She nurses the injured dogs and feeds them from a civic van in the evenings – the fare includes milk, stew and mutton. Pratima has earned quite a reputation in the locality today and many neighbours make a contribution toward feeding the dogs.

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“I was married at the age of seven to a man who was more than 10 years older than me. My husband often came home drunk and used to beat me. My mother and I have suffered at the hands of our in-laws,” recounted Pratima, who came to Delhi in the early 1980s from Nandigram in West Bengal.

At the age of 14 she bore her first child who came to Delhi to work as a five-year-old. Pratima had already parted ways with her husband and was working as a domestic in Kolkata. She decided to move to Delhi to be with her older son. She has two more children.

Amma said she has worked as a domestic in model-turned-actor Rahul Dev’s home. “He was very fond of my paranthas,” she said, adding the actor still comes to visit her. She later ran a tea-stall near PVR for more than 25 years. But popularity came at a price.

“A neighbour who owned a departmental store conspired with two policemen and burnt down my tea-stall along with my house. I was injured and many of my dogs were also burnt. They spared no one,” she recalled, while showing burn marks on her feet.

Pratima has now bought a house in Sangam Vihar, some five km away, where her children live today, but she refuses to go as her adopted children – the dogs – are not welcome there.

“My children do not want me to stay with them because of the dogs. And I cannot leave them. Who will take care of the dogs if I leave them,” she asked.

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Mental health professionals, however, have a different take on the issue. They feel that dogs sometimes fill emotional gaps in people’s lives, but add that when socialisation is exclusively limited to pets, there were possibly underlying issues.

“It’s like dogs domesticated humans and vice the versa. Most people feel comfortable with animals. Nothing wrong with it, but confining oneself to animals definitely is (not good),” Suyesha Singh Rathore, a counselling psychologist, told IANS.

“During social anxiety, an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations, humans often avoid the social interaction for relaxation but unknowingly tend to behave differently. Some prefer talking to walls while others to birds, plants and sometime animals. The most common state is ‘parler a chien’ (talking to dogs) as social adaptations of dogs and humans are similar enough. The dogs can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa,” Rathore added.

“Fear of being closely watched, judged and criticised by others may lead to anxiety and self-consciousness,” she pointed out.

However, there are several reports, including one cited by New York Times, that speaks of nor just the benefits of cuddling a pooch, but also explains the science behind the compelling draw of “puppy eyes” that your pet may subject you to. The feeling of wellness you get while playing with your pet may be rooted in your brain chemistry. And it works both ways.

“The look of love can also be in the dog’s eyes. Dogs who trained a long gaze on their owners had elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment, similar to the feel-good feedback that bolsters bonding between parent and child.” (IANS)

(Muhammad Zulqarnain Zulfi can be contacted at Amohammad.z@ians.inAand Bhavana Akella can be contacted at bhavana.a@ians.in)

 

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10 Best Places To Visit In Delhi

The capital of India, Delhi is one massive city where you can find people from all walks of life.

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Delhi has many places which you must visit to get yourself acquainted with history and culture of India as a whole. Wikimedia Commons
Delhi has many places which you must visit to get yourself acquainted with history and culture of India as a whole. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • Delhi is the capital of India and attracts tourists from all walks of life
  • Delhi has many tourist destinations which attract all kinds of people
  • Delhi has something for everyone and has many places which one can visit

The capital of India, Delhi is one massive city where you can find people from all walks of life. Delhi is full of culture and history, it has something for everyone who comes to visit or live here. From modern nightclubs to old, historical monuments, there is nothing you won’t find in Delhi.

Delhi is one of the major tourist attractions of India. Wikimedia Commons
Delhi is one of the major tourist attractions of India. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi has various places which one can visit. You can be a religious person, history buff, science nerd or an art enthusiast or anything else, Delhi will definitely have something to offer you. Here is the list of 10 best places to visit in Delhi to quench your thirst for history, culture and entertainment.

India Gate

India Gate is one place which you definitely shouldn’t miss while you’re in Delhi. India Gate is one of the best places to visit in Delhi because of its beautiful parks and the ever-burning ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti.’ The area around India Gate is one of the cleanest and you should definitely not miss it during the evening when the place is full of food, people and jest.

India Gate is one the best places to visit in Delhi. Pixabay
India Gate is one the best places to visit in Delhi. Pixabay

Qutub Minar

One of the world’s tallest building, Qutub Minar has beautiful architecture and lots of history attached to it. You can click photographers, sit in the lush green lawns and enjoy amazing food while you’re in its compound. You can also visit Chhatarpur Temple near it, which is yet another place to visit in Delhi.

Qutub Minar is surrounded by lush green garden on all sides. Wikimedia Commons
Qutub Minar is surrounded by the lush green garden on all sides. Wikimedia Commons

Swaminarayan ‘Akshardham Temple’

Akshardham Temple is a relatively new tourist attraction. It is one of best places to visit in Delhi because of its beautiful architecture and peaceful environment. The temple will not disappoint you even if you’re not a religious person. The museum inside is definitely worth a visit as it takes you through various ages of India’s development.

Hindu Temples
Akshardham Temple is one the must-visit places in Delhi (www.akshardham.com)

Red Fort

Red Fort is another one of the tourist’s favourite destination to visit in Delhi. It is of great significance historically and politically. It is one of the top names when it comes to Delhi’s points of interest. In the day you can visit museums and soak the history while at night, you can enjoy the fabulous light and sound show.

Red Fort in Delhi is a place for both the history and political science buffs. Pixabay
Red Fort in Delhi is a place for both the history and political science buffs. Pixabay

The Bahai or Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple is definitely one of best places to visit in Delhi. It is a heaven for all the photographers out there. It is also famous for its quiet and tranquil environment. It is one of the best places to visit quietly and meditate in Delhi.

Night view of Lotus Temple. Wikimedia Commons
Night view of Lotus Temple. Wikimedia Commons

Jama Masjid

If you’re talking Delhi, you just can’t forget to mention Jama Masjid. Jama Masjid is huge and is famous for its beautiful architecture. You can sit in its compound for as long as you like and can even enjoy a picnic there with your friends or family. You can also climb up the tall Minar which will give you a full view of Old Delhi. Near it, you can visit Kebab shops and restaurants which will serve you with some of the best Mughlai food ever.

The Jama Masjid is not only a place to worship but also a place to enjoy small picnics to enjoy with friends and family. VOA
The Jama Masjid is not only a place to worship but also a place to enjoy small picnics to enjoy with friends and family. VOA

Chandani Chowk

Chandani Chowk is the economic hub of Delhi. From clothing to food, there is nothing you won’t find here. Visit the ‘Paranthe Wali Gali’ to experience some of the best Delhi food. You can also visit the famous ‘Old and Famous Jalebi Wala’ for a Jalebi and Rabri combination like never before. The place may seem crowded but it is definitely worth a visit if you really want to experience the essence of Delhi.

Chandni Chowk is famous for the amazing food which one can get there. Wikimedia Commons
Chandni Chowk is famous for the amazing food which one can get there. Wikimedia Commons

Purana Quila 

When we are talking about the best places to visit in Delhi, we just cannot forget the Old Fort. It is one of the most ancient and largest forts in India. It spans around in an area of 2 km. You can enjoy sightseeing and learn about the place. Apart from that, you can also enjoy boating in the lake inside the Old Fort.

Also Read: 10 llittle-knownfacts about Delhi Metro which makes it distinct

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Located near the Connaught Place, Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous tourist places in Delhi. It is beautifully structured and the lake in the middle is where you can sit comfortably and enjoy the view of various fishes inside it. Near the Gurudwara, you can also visit the famous Hanuman Mandir on one side and the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church on the other.

Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous place of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous places of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

National Rail Museum

There are a plethora of museums which you can visit in Delhi, but out of all those National Rail Museum stands out because of a variety of rail models – be it static or working, or small or big. You can also enjoy a toy train while you are visiting the museum!