We were worried. We have been for the last two years. He was getting senile and seemed quite set to remain the confirmed bachelor, steadily shunning his own kind and compulsively hanging out with ours. And now, early forties was really quite an age.
“He didn’t like Candle or Sprite who I introduced him to last week — both such lovely girls… He’s exactly like you — fussy!” said Mother suddenly pointing at me. Taken aback at the unfair comparison, I vowed I was going to get my brother, my dog, married before the end of this year. Luckily, Delhi was going to organise apparently India’s first mass wedding for dogs. Excited, I called the number advertised to get him registered.
Over Enthu Organiser: “Name?”
Sedate Me: “Snoopy.”
Over Enthu Organiser: “Breed?”
Sedate Me: “Daschund.”
Over Enthu Organiser: “Age?”
Sedate Me: “Six… no five!” (Moment of Inferiority Complex).
Over Enthu Organiser: “Most of the registrations are in the age range of two-three, but don’t worryji, there will be older ones too. But do come dressed as you would for a regular shaadi.”
Two days later, a wedding invitation card arrives at our address and Mother stitches him a red and silver jacket. Gold is so passé now, she says. The motley baraat is ready: Mother, aunt, driver, maid, sister (me), and of course, the handsome groom, who’s had a severe panic attack. Three cardamom rusks bring him out of hiding. A brief though trying car-ride later, we reach a sweaty mass of people and pets in the amphitheatre of Ansal Plaza. There are dogs of all shapes, sizes, colours and breeds… I enter him for the best-dressed dog contest; he doesn’t quite make the cut for any other.
We find a good enough spot to network before the contests begin. “We don’t want inter-breeds. He’s a pure Daschund and that’s what I want for him,” Mother warns me. I roll my eyes, “We can’t be that fussy you know. He’s not exactly young!” We’re interrupted by a lady, the editor of a bi-monthly pet magazine and Snoopy’s jacket has caught her eye. We learn later that she’s one of the judges. “She liked him! I’m sure he’ll win!” Mother gushes. Then, two girls, one holding a tiny Pekinese, stride across. I keep my eyes peeled for a potential bride. I spot three Daschunds, but all turn out to be males. Damn.
Eventually, the best-dressed contest begins. “Snoopy! Snoopy Singh!” screeches the young emcee. Bro and I take our positions — I’m dressed in red and silver too — and begin strutting our stuff. “Singh is king! Singh is king!” hollers the audience. “Is his name really Snoopy Singh?” asks the emcee. “Yes,” smiles Sedate Me. “How old is he?” Again that question! “Five”, I mutter.
The ordeal is over and we step off the stage and there are no potential sister-in-laws in sight. I sigh. The results are announced. We haven’t won. As we make our way through, a girl my age stops to admire him. “He’s really handsome, what’s his name?” I tell her. “How old is he?” I tell her. We exchange cards; she’s a journalist too. “You know, we’re looking out for our female and she’s a Daschund too,” she says. My eyes light up. “How old is she?” I breathlessly enquire. “Six.”