The Daily WORD is VIGILANTE
I like my Bolingbrook neighborhood, but re-entry is reverse culture shock. In India everything I do or say is everyone’s business. This year’s shocker was my “half pants” (to the knee shorts). I think everyone in Nagpur knows I immodestly wore half-pants for a brief trip to the yard to retrieve a book that slipped from my balcony.
I was reprimanded for hanging my underpants and bras to dry on my balcony, reminding me that such things were once called “unmentionables” in the US. Vasanti had a system of covering unmentionables hanging to dry in the bathroom with a towel when a room boy came to clean. There must be much power in underwear, because Vasanti’s sister rescued a discarded bra from my waste basket and promised to burn it. Why? Because someone could put a curse on it! At last, a use for worn out unmentionables.
Despite all this modesty, men urinate freely in public (with no public facilities, this is understandable) and I am accustomed to stepping around mammal feces on India sidewalks and streets while dodging the droppings of large birds and giving space to monkeys who pee on people.
But god forbid my dogs attend to nature’s call without me removing the evidence immediately. I am still traumatized by the vitriol and venom of a neighbor last year over dog poop. I took five grandkids and two dogs for a brief trip to the playground just three blocks away. Getting that crowd out of the house, I forgot my plastic dog poop bag. Bailey pooped on the sidewalk, and I made the reasonable decision to clean it up when we returned a half hour later.
On the return walk, a neighbor, obviously on the lookout, ran out her door and screeched: ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE THAT DOG POOP ON THE SIDEWALK?????? It was not even her sidewalk. Just a few weeks prior, I had stepped in camel poop so it seemed an overreaction. I assured her I would return in a moment with a plastic bag. She was not satisfied but did not like my suggestion that she pick it up herself if it was that much of a bother.
The next dog walk, I was prepared with two plastic bags. Homer, a very little dog, peed on a very large tree. A huge man with booming voice lunged out of his house and berated me for letting my dog pee on his tree.
Neither vigilante noticed that I was wearing half pants. Nor do they know that I could put a curse on them by rummaging through their recycle bins for discarded unmentionables. But, of course, I won’t.
I confess I thought, “Now where are those nasty monkeys when I need them? And “I wonder if camel poop would provoke a total Bolingbrook meltdown?” And, “Too bad we don’t have large birds around here.”
I find it rather sad that while everyone I met in Nagpur knows all about me, my neighbors know me only as a public nuisance with little talent for landscaping. It’s my fault for not making an effort to be sociable, but I don’t know how to relate to people who get their knickers in a twist over dog poop.