The Dogs of Jalan Padma Utara (a short story) by Colin Decosta
Everyone who goes to Bali meets dogs. Some people can’t stand them, others seem interested but non plussed and some try and be kind to them. That’s me. I like dogs, even smelly Balinese ones.
In 1989 I was staying at Nakula’s, up the from the Bali Padma, and being a bit of a back lane in those days I could always count on meeting a few dogs while going to and from Nakula. If I had something to give them to eat I’d toss it to them. After a while of this I started to get pretty comfortable around the local dogs. I’d see the same ones everyday, would talk to them, and they seemed pretty keen on me and my scraps. Of course the locals would look and laugh at the mad Aussie and his antics.
Now I said at the start that everyone who goes to Bali meets dogs, true? Pretty well, unless you never leave the grounds of the Four Seasons or your luxury villa. So if you have met them you know these dogs tend to be ‘skittish’, ‘nervous’ or just plain ‘shy’. So most people look but don’t touch. I know what your all thinking, this idiot tried to pat one of the mongrels and got bitten. Wrong I like dogs but I’m not completely stupid.
So walking home after dinner at Legian Snacks one night, a dark night at that with no moon, and I get to the spot in the lane where it is narrower than the rest. There is a little gang that runs off to the east, and go’s god knows where, and its here I see Pizza. I called him Pizza cause he had a major red skin thing, circular in shape, happening on the middle of his back. No hair and, anyway you get the idea. Pizza was not the prettiest dog I’d ever seen but he was approachable and friendly. Now I’d seen Pizza only that morning, given him a wave and an ‘apa kabar?’ but no food.
Pizza comes out of the little gang and stops right in front of me. I stand still and say ‘hello Pizza, apa kabar hari malam?’ Pizza either doesn’t recognize me or has changed his opinion after the no food greeting this morning. Suddenly I realize how very dark it is, and with the street empty, how alone I am. Still I’m think’in be cool, don’t move to quick and go round him. Pizza stands his ground and now he is growling, hackles up. I’m now seriously re-evaluating my opinion of Pizza. Its getting to the point where I am out of control of the situation and want to run. I dismiss that thought, and stand my ground. I slowly bend down and pick up a pretty big rock. Pizza tenses every time I move. I know that its him or me now so I prepare myself for what I have to do.
The sound of a motor bike horn and its light break the dead lock. The lane is narrow and I stand close to the wall to let the bike pass. The local on the bike gives Pizza a blast and a swift kick for his trouble and keeps going. Pizza yelps and disappears into the gang. I realize I still have the rock in my hand and I’m shaking.
When I get back to Nakula I tell Made and the others what happened. They all laugh and tell me to stay away from the Angjings of Jalan Padma Utara. Even Toby the monkey seems to be laughing, but that’s another story.