It is universally believed that the road belongs to all the citizens, tax paying or otherwise. But, the concept of where one’s house ends and the general road begins is a matter of contention.
In developed countries, the right to use the road comes with certain duties. Apart from not littering the road, the person residing in the house right next to the road has an obligation to look after the bushes and shrubs on the sidewalk in front of his house; it means his responsibility is to see that the shrub is properly trimmed and weeded, (though watering may be done by the driver driving the city council tanker). No one has the freedom to stick stickers as they like on pillars, posts, trees and walls. Those who take the dogs out on the road, are supposed to take them on a leash, make them sit while people pass by so that they (passers by) are not scared by any unpredictable behaviour on the part of the dog. As for dirtying the road, the owner is supposed to carry a scoop and a plastic bag to put the poop in, to be disposed off later along with their own garbage.
But here, in our country, people are too well aware of their rights but conveniently forget their duties.
First of all, there is a strip outside right next to the compound wall (where the drains are covered) which is meant for general pedestrian use. But people keep potted plants and grow mini gardens (sometimes fencing in the area too) forcing the pedestrians to walk on the roads which is highly risky in the present state of traffic.
The idea of covering the drains thought up by the City Corporation has been helpful in parking the cars and other vehicles, sparing the roads for moving vehicles. In our house, we had thought of this even before the Corporation did. But, we only realized later that by spending for the granite slabs and the labour out of our own pocket, we only helped our neighbors and their guests. For the lazy drivers, even if the space in front of their house is available for parking, they find it always easy to park in front of our house, more so with a tree providing the shade, sometimes from morning till evening. Once one of our neighbours had left his new car in front of our house for three full days as he was stuck in an outstation friend’s place. Good for him that he collected it before we reported it to the police.
I have also noticed a peculiar trait in our neighbours’ visitors (like contractors, masons etc) which makes them think that they are being extremely well mannered in not parking their vehicles in front of their boss’s house. No such inhibitions while parking in front of our house. Thank God, the gate and driveway are spared.
Abroad, the owners are fined heavily if their cars are parked in wrong slots. I also appreciate the fact that in Far East, people are allowed to book cars only if they can show a patch of parking space available to them-rented or owned.
Well, coming to the dogs, very rarely the dogs are taken with a leash. Once a middle aged lady came running and hid in our house as she was dead scared of the leashless dog that was being taken on the road.
As for the twice a day ritual of taking dogs out, Vasudhaiva kutumbakam , all houses are theirs. The dogs might get the urge to poop anywhere and everywhere. Very rarely one sees a person like my daughter–in law, who had trained the dog to pee in their bathroom on the first floor and poop on the terrace.
In this connection, I may report a conversation between two gentlemen—a house owner and a dog owner. The dog owner was as usual taking the dog for its morning ritual without a leash. The dog started settling in front of the house owner’s house to do the job.
H.O– Sir, please take your dog further up. We cannot stand the stink later.
D.O– But, this is a public road. You cannot object. Moreover, what will you do if a stray dog comes and does it?
H.O.– I will take a stone and throw it at him and drive him out.
D.O—How can you do such a thing? You cannot stop these things on a public road.
H.O—In that case, tomorrow you might come and squat in front of my house yourself to do the job. You mean to say I have no right to stone you out?
By then the dog had finished his job and the offending party walked off, none the worse for the exchange.