Monday, 23 July 2012

The Jarmaan Shefaard

The world’s rarest breed of dog is the Jarmaan Shefaard.

Also known as Elséshiaan or Elsishaan, this breed exists where you find the Bunglee middle class family. Nowhere else can you encounter one. It is simply not possible.

Through the length and breadth of Bunglistan, and by extension anywhere in the world (as far as Bunglees are concerned), there are just three types of dog: three only. These are the aforementioned Jarmaan Shefaard, the Bhutia Kukur, and the Deshi Kukur (or, as some Bunglee dialects have it, the Dishi Kukur or Peti Kukur).

The Bhutia Kukur can be recognised anywhere. It can be as small as a Pekingese or a Lhasa Apso, or as large as an Old English Sheepdog or a Tibetan Mastiff; that doesn’t matter. What matters is the fur.

Fur? What’s fur got to do with it?

Well, a Bhutia Kukur is marked by its fur. Any and all long-haired dogs are Bhutia Kukurs, be they Border Collie or Komondor, Shih Tzu or Pomeranian. They are all, every single one of them, Bhutia Kukurs to the Bunglee. The only exception to the rule is that their own family dog can never be a Bhutia Kukur. What their own dogs are, I’ll get to in a moment.

Above and below: Bhutia Kukurs.

All Bhutia Kukurs are from Bhutan (hence the name Bhutia Kukur, Bhutanese Dog). Even if they are Great Pyrenees Mountain Dogs from Andorra or Newfoundlands from Canada, if they’re Bhutia Kukurs, they’re from Bhutan. And all Bhutia Kukurs are universally delicate and will die on you without warning. If you buy a Bhutia Kukur, you’ll be lucky if it lives five days. Remember this.

The other common type of dog is the Deshi Kukur (Country Dog). This is an exceedingly common breed, in fact, a breed so common that every single dog in Bunglistan which is not a Bhutia Kukur – bar one very, very important exception – is a Deshi Kukur. You know that pure-bred fox terrier down the lane? That’s as much a Deshi Kukur as the piebald mongrel which accompanies you on your morning jog, tongue lolling; as much as the Doberman on guard duty at the police barracks outside town or the whippet racing the tracks on TV. They’re all Deshi Kukur; every single damned one of them. And they’re fit to be looked down on, the whole ill-bred caboodle.

Above and below: Deshi Kukurs

Deshi Kukurs don’t have pedigree. They can’t be trained, they’re promiscuous and have twenty or thirty puppies at one go (Bhutia Kukurs and Jarmaan Shefaards have only three or four; if they have more they aren’t Bhutia Kukurs or Jarmaan Shefaards). One of the worst insults you can offer a Bunglee is to call his dog a Deshi Kukur. How dare you.

Because, you have to remember, the Bunglee’s own dog is always a Jarmaan Shefaard. To each Bunglee, his dog, and only his dog, is a Jarmaan Shefaard. Oh, yes, he’s vaguely aware that other Jarmaan Shefaards must exist – at least the two who bred to give birth to his dog – but every other dog he knows is either a Bhutia Kukur or a Deshi Kukur.

The Jarmaan Shefaard, then, is the world’s rarest dog – because there is only one.

Now be clear about this – the Jarmaan Shefaard is not a German Shepherd. A real German Shepherd is the unattainable dream for the Bunglee, a dog that’s almost mythical, a dog the very idea of which sends shivers down the Bunglee spine, the very name of which is holy. Hence, the Bunglee’s own dog is always a Jarmaan Shefaard or “Elséshiaan” (the closest the Bunglee tongue can get to pronouncing “German Shepherd” or “Alsatian”). Even if it’s a mongrel whose closest brush with German Shepherdhood was that its grandfather once rubbed noses with a German Shepherd through a railing, it’s still a Jarmaan Shefaard. The Bunglee won’t be happy if you inform him that his Elséshiaan simply isn’t one.

This is not a Jarmaan Shefaard

This is a Jarmaan Shefaard
Along with the German Shepherd, a few Bunglees will admit to the existence of some other mythical breeds – the Bulldog, which is as big as a bull, the Bloodhound, which is so ferocious that it drinks blood, and the “hound”, which is the fiercest of the lot. But none of the Bunglees will have seen these animals; they’re in the same universe as mermaids or centaurs.

There are entertaining ways Bunglees squirm out of situations where they have to admit their dog might not be quite the German Shepherd they claim it to be. One common way is to call it, when challenged, a “mixed” Jarmaan Shefaard. Just what the poor animal was mixed with isn’t specified – it’s best left to the imagination. And if asked why the Jarmaan Shefaard is so small – the size of a terrier, say – they’ll claim stiffly that theirs is the real Jarmaan Shefaard and the larger ones are all “mixed.” And so on.

Bunglees are the world’s greatest experts on their Jarmaan Shefaards, too. Such things as “walks” or “brushing” are not necessary for their Jarmaan Shefaards, who are more likely than not chained up all day. The Bunglee knows that if you don’t tie up a dog, it gets “spoilt”, so it’s usually kept on a chain.

There are other things the Bunglee knows. For instance, the reason some dogs have their tails docked is that cutting the tail makes the dog “fierce”. But thankfully the thought of paying a vet to dock the tail will also make the Bunglee blanch, so the tail is always left alone.

But this is actually a two-edged sword. The Bunglee may not have his dog mutilated, but he won’t splurge on such things as anti-rabies shots either. In Bunglee canine mythology, a dog only needs to be inoculated if it bites people, because, you see, dogs have poison glands like snakes, and if they bite people, the poison kills them too in ten days unless you inject them with the “medicine”. No, I am not joking about this blithering idiocy – any of it.

I only wish I was.


  1. Although I'm not entirely hip on the cultural scenario that inspired this piece, I laughed all of the way through.

  2. Bill,
    A very entreating tale. Being a dumb "american", are the Bunglee type sort of what we in the US called "yuppies"? Those who may have a bit on "spare" money and think(?) they are higher up the food chain that they really are? Or is it a particular "India" sort of thing? Just curious.

    1. Charlie, "Bunglee" is the satirical term I use for the Bengali ethnic group, which inhabits Bangladesh and a large part of Eastern India, especially the state of West Bengal (which I call Bunglistan). Incidentally, this is the ethnic group to which I belong, so I know them from the inside.

      No, Bunglees aren't yuppies - we leave that to the Punjabis, Marwaris and other business-savvy people. Bunglees tend to be parsimonious, and more than that quite incredibly pretentious. For instance, as an illustration, they'll never actually take the trouble of acquiring a German Shepherd, but will call their (casually acquired and never cared for properly) dog a Jarmaan Shefaard.

      One thing about Bunglees though - they give me a purpose in life. I try to be as much not like them as I possibly can.

  3. chetan mahajan02/10/2012, 21:29

    hilarious. Loved it !!

  4. Greetings from Kathmandu, where I just linked to your blog post because it's spot-on and hysterically funny, and also because I was babbling about dogs and it shows what a great researcher I am (which could help if the U.N. ever wants to hire me to write their stuff.) I love this post. So does my teenager, which is a true mark of success!


Full comment moderation is enabled on this site, which means that your comment will only be visible after the blog administrator (in other words, yours truly) approves it. The purpose of this is not to censor dissenting viewpoints; in fact, such viewpoints are welcome, though it may lead to challenges to provide sources and/or acerbic replies (I do not tolerate stupidity).

The purpose of this moderation is to eliminate spam, of which this blog attracts an inordinate amount. Spammers, be warned: it takes me less time to delete your garbage than it takes for you to post it.