From the streets of Manali

For some reason, I find myself running out of inspiration (and time!) to create new posts. So I decided to repost of the first posts on my blog. This particular post was originally published on February 15,2015. I hope you will enjoy this blast from the past!

I first saw him on the streets of Manali… Mall Road, to be precise. His calm demeanour and his thick, glossy coat devoid of any hideous bald patches were in stark contrast to any stray dog I’d ever laid eyes on. Granted, his thickย fur coat was more of a defense mechanism against the harsh winter, an adaptation. He looked far well groomed for someone who lived on the streets, surviving off the meager scraps that came along occasionally. He bore a striking resemblance to my Peggie, which was probably what drew my attention to her in the first place. He was a cute, little furball. It was quite chilly, and I was bundled up in layers of sweaters, sipping my steamingย cup of tea. He was sitting on the pavement, at a calculated distance from the passing vehicles. (On an entirely different note, I have always observed that strays are quite accomplished when it comes to being ‘on the road’.) There he sat, resolutely imploring the bystanders to share a few scraps of their toast with him. He didn’t hover about, bark incessantly or show any signs of hostility. Rather, he meekly accepted all the tidbits that were thrown to him.

I had stayed there for three days, and each passing day did not bring about the slightest difference in his daily routine. I looked out for him, whenever I was out on the streets and I felt reassured each time I found him. I knew there was no way I could take him home. But that thought didn’t trouble me much for he looked happy and I would have hated to take that away from him. Nevertheless, when it was time for me to leave Manali, I felt sad to leave him behind. I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping to get a last glimpse of him. But it was all for nothing. He was nowhere to be seen. As my bus wound through the road, I stared at this picture I’d managed to snap the day before.

I knew wasn’t going to see him again. I wasn’t going back to Manali anytime soon. He was on my mind, all through my return journey. I wished that he was safe and happy, wherever he was. Months after I was back from my trip, I often thought of Manali and my four-legged acquaintance. I missed Manali, the breathtaking view of the snow-capped peaks in the distance; River Beas, the sunlight glinting off its clear surface; the cool mountain air; the apple trees laden with fruit ripe for plucking. Butย my thoughts kept invariably circling back to him…

Stay safe.

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ยฉ 2015 Shweta Suresh.ย All rights reserved.

133 thoughts on “From the streets of Manali

  1. Shweta. He’s adorable. I’m sorry you never got to see him again. He’s so cute I want to give him a wee cuddle.
    If you’re running low of inspiration you may just need a change of scenery. Usually works for me. Stay well.
    Followed you on insta and twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, he’s adorable indeed.
      I will try that. A change of scenery might do me some good. Thanks a lot for the tip. Thank you for the follow ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I’m not that active on those platforms currently ๐Ÿ˜… but I shall find you there too
      Stay safe. Take care


  2. This is sooo sweet! ๐Ÿฅบ Heโ€™d very cute. The fact that you still think about him shows how much he meant to you. 4 legged friends are the best! Loved this post! ๐Ÿค

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I met a stray in Athens and he followed me everywhere because I didnโ€™t think when I saw him, said โ€œhiya puppy!โ€ And he came over and I scratched his ears. My husband and father were hissing at me that you donโ€™t just find the first stray and befriend it. I ignored them and kept petting that huge ball of fur. He was dirty, matted, and sweet as anything. He had street smarts too. He went berserk barking and jumping up and down when we got ready to cross the street. We didnโ€™t have the light to go, so we werenโ€™t but he didnโ€™t know that just that cars were going by. I had to step back for him to calm down. He didnโ€™t care if the other two got run over, just me ๐Ÿ˜
    He was outside the hotel every morning to say hello, and he walked with us everywhere and made sure we got back to the hotel safely at night. After day 2, I decided he was mine and named him Zeus, and while he sat outside the restaurants waiting for us (never begged!) I would ask the owner for a little something for my dog. They would look out and give me a face like โ€œcrazy American thatโ€™s a stray!โ€ I would just wait for them to stop judging and then they would always come out with something tasty for him which I always gave him. But he wouldnโ€™t ever eat it until we were somewhere weโ€™d be for a minute like we would disappear while he was chowing down. We were there for three days, and for three days Zeus was mine. The day we left, we came out of the hotel and he was there. He saw us and the luggage and started whining. I squatted down putting him and gave him some food from breakfast which he didnโ€™t touch. He just wagged his tail and looked at me like his person was leaving. I almost clipped him to my luggage! I was dying. We got into the cab and I was watching him out the window, my nose pressed against it hating my father and husband. He watched us start to move then immediately swallowed the food in one gulp and by the time we turned a corner, he had already made best friends with a whole new woman staying at the hotel who had arrived as we were checking out.
    Thatโ€™s when I realized he was never my Zeus, I was his Marla, and he had a new one in every port ๐Ÿ˜‚

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dogs are so sweet. Who can resist those puppy dog eyes. I pet stray dogs too and many end up following me with their tails wagging once we’ve made eye contact. Aww, that was so sweet of him to care for you. It must have been hard to let go of him when he was whining. It’s so hard to resist their eyes. But they do have street smarts. They make friends easily so that they never have to starve. Necessity is the mother of invention after all! Sorry that he kind of broke your heart but I’m glad that he managed to find a way to survive. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. I could visualise it so vividly ๐Ÿ˜Š


      1. “Sorry that he kind of broke your heart but Iโ€™m glad that he managed to find a way to survive.”

        I begrudge him nothing. He was smart as hell. But I still wish I could have taken him. But he knew what he was doing. He looks at a group, finds the weakest link, and acts like the best trained dog on Earth for their stay, and like he can’t live without them and that’s his people, and the second they’re not there, he’s forgotten you and he has a new people that fast. You fulfilled his needs when you were there, now you’re a distant memory if he remembers at all. But he makes everyone’s stay at that particular hotel super memorable for life.

        What was awesome was that we went back to Greece and ended up near the hotel, actually passing it. He wasn’t there and I was crushed (it was the afternoon). As we were heading back to where we came from in the evening, he was walking a family back to the hotel. I even said “It’s Zeus!” and he just trotted off once they went in. Looked at me for a second and then just GONE. Didn’t care that I was there at all. He’s a survivor, and I’m a mushy hearted human LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He’s definitely smart. That’s the best way to survive indeed. He definitely lavishes his attentions on his chosen humans, one at a time! I’m glad that the little guy managed to survive. Life on the streets is not easy at all.


  4. I love Menali and dogs but it’s beggars that I connect with. I befriend and talk with them and then worry how they are when I’m gone. Fortunately I would often see them on my visits again; one in Kathmandu and one in Varanasi and a few in HP ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nice share

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve been doing this for decades and some had already died of natural causes … life on the streets is never easy but most of them have learnt English just by listening … so incredibly intelligent and most miss that!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes. It’s a struggle on some days. I’m currently prioritising reading over writing so that reduces my writing time budget ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚
      Manali is a wonderful place. You should definitely visit one day. I’m a dog person through and through!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Shweta, we’ve all been through so much. Remember to be gentle with yourself and KNOW that inspiration will return. Just allow the process in you to unfold. I really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you. Love yourself and know you are in exactly the place you need to be in for right now. (((HUGS))) xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shweta!!! I think we might have met the same dog. I visited Manali around same time and only difference is, when I visited he was already taken up by a local shop owner and was looked after so so well. I loved him and since my hotel was near, I visted him daily during my visit. I am sure I’d have pic which I will look for tomorrow. Your post is so relatable and makes me miss traveling as how else can we meet such furballs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh really?? Wow. That’s a great coincidence ๐Ÿ˜€
      He was definitely unique. There wasn’t any other dog like him in the area so I think that you might have met him too. That’s amazing. I’m glad that the local shopkeeper took him in. Yes, I miss traveling too. This happened during my college tour. Ajay and I wanted to wish Manali again after our marriage but sadly, it looks like we’re going to have to wait for a long time for that to happen. Do let me know if you find his picture ๐Ÿ˜€


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