Why I named My Dog ‘Marlon Brando’

Sometime back, I adopted a dog from the Friendicoes shelter here in New Delhi. He is a young Boxer male and was typically dumped outside the shelter at night. Outwardly, except for being thin and a little skin problem, the dog appeared fine. Everyone at Friendicoes and me wondered about this case because the Boxer is in his prime and highly pedigreed. A month after welcoming him into my heart and home, I found out that he has malignant venereal tumors which need prolonged and expensive treatment that includes chemotherapy. I am happy to report that he is responding well to the treatment under one of the finest vets, Dr Prabhakar, at Friendicoes. The good doctor has magic in his fingers !

I named the Boxer , Marlon after the legendary actor Marlon Brando. Everyone smiles when they hear his name. The ladies sigh, remembering the smoldering and sensual Brando. Film enthusiasts get delirious and talk excitedly about his films and the powerful characters that he essayed.

And then comes the inevitable question. Why did I name him Marlon Brando ? Some put it down to me being a huge fan or he being a cultural icon. Both assumptions are correct.
But most importantly what placed him firmly in my consciousness and being is that Marlon Brando stood up for the alienated and the dispossessed. And he did it oh so flamboyantly and stylishly. I am a huge sucker for any man who tends to live larger than life, the man who chooses to walk un-trodden paths, the man who refuses to be chained by the sometimes hypocritical and immoral chains of society….the one who dances to distant and different drums.

On the eve of the 1972 Oscars, Brando announced that he would boycott the ceremony, and would send Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. After Brando’s name was announced as Best Actor for ‘The Godfather’, the presenter Roger Moore attempted to hand the Oscar to Littlefeather, but she brushed it aside, saying that Brando could not accept the award. Littlefeather read a portion of a lengthy statement Brando had written.Brando had been involved in social causes for years, speaking publicly in support of the formation of a Jewish state in the 1940s, as well as for African-American civil rights and the Black Panther Party. His Oscar statement expressed support for the American Indian Movement (AIM) and referenced the ongoing situation at Wounded Knee, the South Dakota town that had been seized by AIM members the previous month and was currently under siege by U.S. military forces. Wounded Knee had also been the site of a massacre of Native Americans by U.S. government forces in 1890.
Here is the excerpt:


It is the hour in my country as well as that of rest of the world to abandon all notions of ‘otherness’ and instead embrace ‘togetherness’. Only an intermixing colors will reveal a new rainbow world.
Here is the full speech that Marlon Brando. I really wish he had delivered it in person. Truly would have gone down in history as one of the greatest speeches.

For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: ”Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.”
When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands. We starved them into signing fraudulent agreements that we called treaties which we never kept. We turned them into beggars on a continent that gave life for as long as life can remember. And by any interpretation of history, however twisted, we did not do right. We were not lawful nor were we just in what we did. For them, we do not have to restore these people, we do not have to live up to some agreements, because it is given to us by virtue of our power to attack the rights of others, to take their property, to take their lives when they are trying to defend their land and liberty, and to make their virtues a crime and our own vices virtues.
But there is one thing which is beyond the reach of this perversity and that is the tremendous verdict of history. And history will surely judge us. But do we care? What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitment when every page of history and when all the thirsty, starving, humiliating days and nights of the last 100 years in the lives of the American Indian contradict that voice?
It would seem that the respect for principle and the love of one’s neighbor have become dysfunctional in this country of ours, and that all we have done, all that we have succeeded in accomplishing with our power is simply annihilating the hopes of the newborn countries in this world, as well as friends and enemies alike, that we’re not humane, and that we do not live up to our agreements.
Perhaps at this moment you are saying to yourself what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards? Why is this woman standing up here, ruining our evening, invading our lives with things that don’t concern us, and that we don’t care about? Wasting our time and money and intruding in our homes.
I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.
Recently there have been a few faltering steps to correct this situation, but too faltering and too few, so I, as a member in this profession, do not feel that I can as a citizen of the United States accept an award here tonight. I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother’s keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.
I would have been here tonight to speak to you directly, but I felt that perhaps I could be of better use if I went to Wounded Knee to help forestall in whatever way I can the establishment of a peace which would be dishonorable as long as the rivers shall run and the grass shall grow.
I would hope that those who are listening would not look upon this as a rude intrusion, but as an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory.
Thank you for your kindness and your courtesy to Miss Littlefeather. Thank you and good night.

Dante’s Inferno

 A  dark, well built, hot, Italian guy walked into my life yesterday.Not only is he uber handsome but the guy is intelligent and brainy too. In fact, he is  a literary genius and the ‘ il Sommo Poeta’. He is called Dante :).  Here is this absolutely gorgeous guy’s pic :

Dante   dante 1   dante 2

 Well guys and the world, I fall in love yet again 🙂 With a ‘divinely comic’ Boxer dog, around 10 months old and the fourth child of an Italian couple here in India.

 Let me tell you mine  and Dante’s story.

My family has always had a soft corner for the Boxer breed. They are delightful beings , full of attitude, tremendous energy,  huge clowns, fiercely loyal and passionate slobber-ers! Between October- December 2013, I lost a bro-sis Boxer duo,called Joshua & Danielle. They had lived upto the ripe old age of 14, ruling my family with their benevolent despotism. In January this year, I said goodbye to my beloved Boxer girl, Jill. She was a rescued and adopted from ‘Friendicoes’ ( animal shelter & NGO). The house and my heart  felt strangely empty without the exuberance and boisterous buffoonery of a Boxer dog. People who own/have owned a Boxer will know what I am talking about here.

So I told my friend, who is associated with Friendicoes, to let me know if a Boxer comes up for adoption. ‘Why don’t I get you one of them show pups?”, asked another  annoyingly rich,friend of mine, adding ‘Will an adult dog be able to bond with you ?”. I felt a trifle irritated and snapped ‘Kabir, we are great friends right? Did you know me when I was in my diapers ?”. He hurriedly withdrew at the manic gleam in my eyes! I tend to lose patience  with people who give me this absolutely stupid, in-ward looking logic that one can bond  ONLY with a baby, either human or animal. I have very , very strong views on adoption and consider it to be true religion, the hallmark of compassion and the barometer of gauging what/how ‘being human’ we are.  Love doesn’t need to smell of your womb, you know!

Well, my animal rescuer friend told me that an Italian couple who were leaving India wanted to give up their dog and would I be interested ?

At this point, I am pretty sure, many of you would be having a negative and angry feeling about this Italian couple, right ? Thoughts like ‘ How can they do that ?’, ‘ A pet is a commitment for life’ etc .

To be frank, the same thought crossed my mind too, when I rang the bell  of the couple’s house. I had gone to see Dante and they wanted to know who they were giving Dante to. I was un-prepared for what happened next. I saw a very courteous, soft-spoken ,middle-aged man who loved this dog like his own child.The great love between both was palpable, beautiful and tender.

He got me a glass of water and settled down to telling me about Dante. As he spoke, his eyes became moist. He told me that he and his family absolutely did not want to leave Dante behind. They were ready to pay all the charges, however exorbitant But, the airlines were not ready to take the responsibility of transferring the dog because of the  high risk involved. Boxers, and some other breeds like pugs, bull dogs  etc  that are  short -nosed ( brachycephalic) are very  vulnerable to changes in air quality and temperature in the cargo hold of a plane. Although pets are transported in pressurized cargo holds and get much the same air that the passengers in the cabin do, the air circulation  is not  ideal for them.( since the dog is in a crate that  affects ventilation too). In addition, nobody is there in the  hold area that can monitor the dog   and provide help if needed ! There are  a horribly huge number of pet causalities due to this. Although, the couple’s friend was the cargo-head of a major airline and  ready to help, he warned them about possible consequences. ‘How can I take him along, knowing that I will put him to risk of death?, he asked me. I nodded my head in agreement, feeling the man’s anguish and helplessness.

And I told him that he has nothing to worry about.Dante would be my child too. This is destiny and perhaps my love for pizza and pasta that is working :).   I met his very lovely wife and children too. The relief and smiles on their face made me think that Dante was so lucky to have had their love.

Well guys, I have always learned something valuable  from each and every animal that has touched my life. Dante has taught me not to be judgmental… to never judge others and jump to hasty conclusions because one simply may not know what someone is experiencing in their life. I had  for a brief while, wrongly judged this beautiful Italian couple. I found out they were genuine and caring people….they wanted only the best for Dante…..they were courageous even while they hurt. Dante also gave me something else 🙂 Yeah, new friends in Giovanni & Francesca. We shall all remain in touch and anytime they are in India, they will meet Dante 🙂

As for me, I have jumped into ‘Dante’s Inferno” joyously.  I have a happy, happy grin on my face. Dante’s snores last night sounded like music to me. My face and skin glow with all the excited slobbering and sloppy kisses he bestows on me. My other dogs have welcomed this new kid in town with glee…the more , the merrier.My excitable, over-angsty Bengali cook is worried whether he needs to learn Italian now ? I have told him to shut up and make pizza for dinner.

 Its the 750th anniversary of Dante Aligheri’s birth, in 2015. And I am celebrating it in my own way…loving a dog called Dante 🙂

Ta, guys…this is what I am humming:

Goodbye, Jill

How does one come to terms with grief?Of losing someone you loved dearly? To realize that you will never see her again? Never feel the warmth of her gaze on you again ? Never hear her happy excited bark when you walked into the house ? Never feel her cold nose pushing against your face in the mornings ever? Never hold her paw which  she trustingly put in your hand again ? Never have her slobber over you again?

 I  am hurting so much today. My heart aches once again.Its a heart ache I have never got used  to, although I have gone through it many times before in the past.

I lost my beloved Boxer girl, Jill, early this morning.Jill was rescued and adopted by me  five years back. She was a very, very beautiful white Boxer with a star of her forehead. She had three legs and her right hind leg was mangled beyond repair.Perhaps, that is why she had been dumped by her previous owners.

I won’t dwell much on her past. For it angers me and fills my heart with hate.And Jill would not like that. She taught me many things; the biggest was forgiveness.Like she forgave her previous owners or those who had hurt her.She did not close up and loose her faith in relationships. Rather, she was strong enough to battle terrible physical and mental abuse to emerge a winner.A dog who loved  wholly and tenderly. And one who always had a big, goofy smile on her face.

 In the last five years, Jill led a grand life filled with pizza, cakes, walks, huge meaty bones, balloons,music, laughter, fun and a firm place in my family’s heart. It was lovely to see her  fiercely chase the ball with my other dogs.It was also heart warming to see them treat her gently and maker her ‘win’.

 Last year, when Jill had gone with me to my parent’s home during the summer vacation, she  stayed back with them. She fell in love with the huge garden there and the joy of chasing squirrels was too much of a temptation, I guess. I am glad that I left her there. She saw flowers bloom and also went to the beach in Puri. Apparently, she was gleeful chasing the waves 🙂 And yes, she gave my Ma company, eating all kinds of ‘pakoras’, ‘bhajjis’, ‘chuda -matar fry’, ice -cream ,chocolates, cutlets etc 🙂

When Jill died this morning, her head was in my Ma’s lap. She was surrounded by people who she loved and who loved her back. She left us hearing my Ma chant the ‘Maha-Mritunjay’ mantra for her. In Hinduism, it is one of the most powerful mantras.(‘Maha mrityunjaya’ is a call for enlightenment and is a practice of purifying the karmas of the soul at a deep level).

त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्” Translation :We Meditate on the Three-eyed reality Which permeates and nourishes all like a fragrance. May we be liberated from death for the sake of immortality, Even as the cucumber is severed from bondage to the creeper.

I am reminded of Jeanette Winterson’s ““You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?”

I will always have a Jill shaped hole in my heart.Every  pet-parent who loses a fur baby finds a way to laugh again. The timbre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt lessens. Every love is carved from loss. Mine is. Yours will be , perhaps. But we learn to live in that love.

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Jill’s special Look 🙂

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Look at the star on her head 🙂

jill 1

She is wearing my Led Zeppelin hoodie 🙂

jill 2

With her great friend Bruce.This is on the train from New Delhi to Odisha.Vacation time 🙂

jill 3

Jill loved listening to Pink Floyd with me 🙂 Wish you were here! Thank you for your gift of un-conditional love…for teaching me that the only disability in life is a bad attitude…for inspiring me with your amazing will power…for healing me with your trust…for rescuing me, actually. Goodbye, my baby.Run free over the Rainbow Bridge ❤

Unbroken

( Disclaimer: This blogpost is to be read  with earlier ones : ( A)  ‘Piece of my Heart’ May20th, 2014.( B) ‘Bruce Almighty: The Dark Knight Rises’,June 8th, 2014. ( C) ” My Jill, My beloved & My 4am friend” August 22nd, 2014.( D) ” Wabi- Sabi Your Life”,October 24th, 2014. ( E).”Sputnik Sweetheart” October 28th ,2014.Just so that you know about my beloved rescued dogs.

When I suffered a terrible car crash years back, a very strange incident had  taken place at home, just at the time the vehicle went hurtling off the road. My pet calf ,called Sita, who had grown into a lovely, ebon black cow, suddenly collapsed on the ground and died. Everyone was shocked and mystified because she was a young creature and in the best of health.Three hours later my family received a call stating that I wouldn’t probably make it . So great were my injuries.It was a New Year’s eve morning.No parents should ever hear such a statement…that their child is dying.I can never imagine what must have gone through my parents’ hearts.But my sister told me, later, that my Ma had  steadied herself and said simply and strongly.”Nothing will happen to her.Her Sita took it upon herself”.

Nothing did ,actually. I came out of that terrible ordeal, unbroken.

I have always believed that my animals protect me from any kind of harm. They watch over me with their beautiful unconditional love.With all their strength and purity.Time and again I have been proved right, sometimes much to my distress.Just as this time when the accidental sufi battled a terrible personal crisis, yet again. As I fought back ,my little Golden Cocker spaniel girl, Ashlee Aishwaraiya, fell mysteriously ill.She just lay down one morning, ten days back, and started bleeding through her nose.She refused to eat and drink.It was frightening to see  what she suffered.The vet couldn’t diagnose the sudden cause for internal hemorrhage. He administered a saline drip because she  was dehydrated completely and going into shock.

I spoke to her on the telephone then.( she is, for a short time with my sister in my hometown). Telling her not to die on me. That we had both found each other.That we had both rescued each other.That she can’t abandon me. That she should give me strength.That I will fight back.

My sister told me that Ashlee got up after she heard my voice.She was very, very weak.But she went to her water bowl and drank a few sips.Minutes later, she ate two glucose biscuits.

This dog of mine had suffered unspeakable brutality and abuse. Yet, she had emerged from it victorious because of her spirit, her will power. Teaching me that “there is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken. There is a shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable. There is a sorrow beyond all grief, which leads to joy. And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength. There is a hollow space too vast for words through which we pass with each loss, out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being“ ( Rashani)

Each of my rescued dogs teach me bravery,resilience and strength. What Camus says “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer” 🙂 My rescued and adopted dogs were all special needs K9: 1.Jill, a three legged Boxer girl. 2. Jigar, an English bulldog girl, with terrible mange & skin disorder.3.Ashlee,a blind Golden Cocker Spaniel girl 4.Bruce Wayne, a  paralyzed miniature black pug boy.5.Layla,a starved and beaten Great Dane girl.

Appeal: Christmas is around the corner. A New Year too.To anyone reading this blog, please adopt an animal from a shelter.Please do not buy a puppy,kitten etc…when so many beautiful animals are languishing in shelters.Please donate.Please help in any little way you can.PLEASE!

And  what words shall  I tell you ? 🙂 To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you.To pursue beauty to its lair.”( Arundhati Roy)

And what song shall I play for you ? 🙂 http://youtu.be/DhlPAj38rHc

Zach Skow: Warrior [The Warrior Series]

[The start of ‘The Warrior Series’ on this blog. This would be about those people I know/have known/will know. They are real people. The ‘Warrior’ has five qualities: 1.Courage/Valor 2. Compassion 3.The ability to love unconditionally 4.The willingness to bleed/sacrifice joyfully.5.To stand, unwavering &rock solid, by a cause/person. Such warriors are the fellow travelers of time & space of the accidental sufi. ]

It is so fitting that the start of this series on this blog is on December 8th. For its Jim Morrison’s birthday today.Happy Birthday, beautiful warrior.You and I could have talked about so much.For like you, the accidental sufi “is a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”  ( Oscar Wilde)

The first warrior that I shall tell the world about is Zach Skow. A man of great inner beauty and strength of purpose. A man who is fearless and walks tall in his convictions. A man who is tender towards those who need him. A man who would probably cut himself up to defend those who look to him for protection and help. “There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter…..”.Zach has found this ecstasy.Only the chosen ones find it actually.

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( Photos of Zach and his beloved dogs)

As he lay terribly sick, almost dying due to his liver failing from sustained alcohol abuse, Zach Skow says he was ‘depleted’. In all possible ways a human can be depleted : physically, mentally and spiritually. The doctors warned him that he would not survive without a liver transplant. But he would need to build his strength and stay sober for 6 months to go through it.
This warrior began building back his spirit and body, supported by the un-conditional love of his two rescued dogs Marley, a Rottweiler/Pit Bull mix, and Tug, a Lab mix, who wouldn’t give up on him. Sunrise strolls and hikes in the mountains near his home in Bakersfield, California, with his two dogs, were the only medicine that Zach needed. He rose from certain death to being so healthy within a year that he no longer needed a transplant.

He then started a non-profit organization with the help of his Dad. This is called “ Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue’, a touching and heartfelt tribute to his beloved dog Marley, acknowledging that he ’LIVED’ because of that un-conditional love. Zach and his father rescued dogs scheduled for euthanasia from local shelters, then fostered and trained them before finding them new homes. Marley’s Mutts today has a formidable network of people who love and aid animals and the organization grows from strength to strength every single day.

Read about Hooch, a French Mastiff who, horrifically, had his tongue and ears cut off by his abusive former owner when he was just a puppy. He and Zach are inseparable today. Read about Apollo, found with a d-ring hook, the remnants of a tie-down chain, imbedded in his foot. Rather than attach the chain to his collar, his tormentors attached in through his flesh, tendons and bone in order to keep him immobile. Zach says “No rescue case, before or since, conjured up such anger in me than that of Apollo’s.” Apollo has since then been adopted to a lovely home. And Zach says “ In his rehabilitation he taught me to focus on constructive ideas like love and forgiveness, therefore today I harbor no hate for those that hurt him”.

Read all about this warrior, Zach Skow and his militia here:https://www.facebook.com/MarleysMuttsDogRescue?fref=ts

Draw courage, compassion and love from this man.Support him and the awesome work he does..and watch roses bloom in your soul 🙂

Zach buddy, you have a friend in the accidental sufi for life 🙂 Stay wild.Stay un-tamed.Above all, stay beautiful and blessed, you warrior! This one is for you :http://youtu.be/M43wsiNBwmo ! Wild boy, never loose it.Wild boy,never close your eyes.Wild boy, always shine 🙂

Over & Out, guys.Till I tell you about another warrior 🙂

Gotcha Dad!

The accidental sufi has such a gleeful smile on her face, guys 😀 For the first time in my life perhaps, I rallied  from a position of moral high horse where my Dad is concerned. My Dad , whom me and my sister refer to as ‘The Don’ for all his Don Corleone high handedness!

For years, I have  listened to his sermons about my ‘disgraceful’ lifestyle which includes addiction to Led Zeppelin, pizzas,general disregard for all societal rules and  yes, the exasperation at my ever expanding motley crew of  rescued dogs, cats, birds, monkeys etc. I have put up with his  pompous and self-righteous statements like ” I wish you cared about your  Dad as you do for this miserable bulldog” . This was after I had made his favorite cheese omelet and crisp toast with butter and honey. Its another matter that Jigar, my English bulldog stole his omelet while was imperiously reading the newspaper  😀

Well, day before yesterday, my Dad was in our holiday home in Puri ( a beach town in Cuttack,Odisha). He normally spends a lot of time there. I guess this great love for the sea that  I have,  is inherited from him. A little  stray puppy, around two months old, was run over by a  motorcycle. The motorcyclist sped away without a second glance. The puppy screamed in pain, got up and tottered past my Dad standing at the gate  and into our home. The chap who works for us told me that Shahib got very concerned and immediately asked  for water to be brought for the little fella and if needs be, rush him to the vet. Mercifully, the little pup was fine except for a grazed leg. Reports have reached me that my Dad then personally bandaged the pup, fed him biscuits and asked that he be allowed to sit at the entrance and sun himself 🙂 Then, he called me and told me this incident with ” Let it recover, then of course  he has to go”, much to my irritation. By evening, the pup had found its way to my Dad’s bedroom and both were watching  television. The next morning, they both had breakfast together on the terrace.

My Dad called me up to say very cryptically ” Accha, I have named the pup ‘Tommy’ ”. I was ecstatic at the bonding and furious  at the name, which I felt was rather common. Further, I was not consulted about the name.All our pets are named by me .Period. I would have liked to call the pup ‘Sydhartha’. A combination of  two of my very favorite people.  The insane and beautiful Syd Barrett and Sidhartha  or Gautam Buddha whom I wanted to talk about renunciation.Especially, his ‘In the end,these things matter most:How well did you love?How fully did you live?How deeply did you let go?”. Questions that trouble me a lot. But that’s for another day 🙂

Me : So Dad, you have adopted Tommy ?

Dad : No, I am not a sentimental fool like you. Tommy adopted me.

🙂

Me: I hate the name though.

Dad: I never asked for your approval.

That was that.

This morning he called me to tell me  very philosophically ( euphemism for pompously) that  God doesn’t make men like him anymore and how this should be conveyed to my  Ma 😀 I learned  that they had had a disagreement about something absolutely trivial but my Ma was refusing to take his call 🙂 And then suddenly he told me for the first time about a little male stray pup, white with brown patches and soulful brown eyes, which he had as a child.He was very attached to the pup who grew up into a beloved dog.Some years later he died of a snakebite.In my father’s arms. He was called Tommy.

They certainly don’t make men like you anymore, Dad 🙂 Strong and beautiful!  “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom” ( Umberto Eco)

Animals are such special people .As John Grogan says about his dog Marley “He taught us the art of unqualified love. How to give it, how to accept it. Where there is that, most other pieces fall into place”

And welcome to the family, Tommy! Say what, I quite love  Tommy Hilfiger stuff :).

Horny Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes was my favorite political philosopher while I was studying for  my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. I was fascinated with the way he broke with tradition and propounded a  political theory based on the comprehensive understanding of human nature, especially the passions.So, while course work  demanded that I study the ‘Leviathan’ ,a lesser known work of his  ‘Elements of Law’ ( 1640) excited me beyond measure too 🙂

This great love for political philosophy and this English philosopher in particular made me name a rabbit I adopted , Thomas Hobbes 😀

Hobbes came to me on one of my visits to my Dad’s friend’s house.This person loved rabbits and had  a whole lot of them running around his house.Rabbits as we all know multiply alarmingly quickly.But Uncle never seemed to be bothered about it, much to the annoyance of his wife, who had to suffer the loss of the  vegetables in the store house and destruction of her beloved kitchen garden! Well, I spotted this little guy,sitting all alone on the sofa in the living room, nonchalantly eating an apple with a very arrogant expression. Much like intellectual disdain over his  lesser rabbit brethren. He looked different too.You know, not ‘normal’. And I soon found out that it was because he had only one ear. His right ear was completely missing. A birth defect.

Everyone was mystified about my choice. I could hear what they were thinking. ‘Why pick a deformed guy?”  I could have quoted glorious lines by  Spinoza  “I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused”. Instead, I scooped  that precious guy in my arms and marched to my Dad’s car. ‘Daddy, I am going to call him Thomas Hobbes. He is a break against tradition. A stupid tradition that revers beauty without compassion “. My long suffering Dad possibly  would have wondered why he couldn’t have had a more ‘normal’ daughter 😀

Thomas Hobbes led a grand life. He lived in a huge , airy room, with lattice windows, adjacent  to our lawn. He  shared his accommodation with numerous rescued birds. He would sit on my lap, nibbling apples and carrots, while I read him poetry and philosophy. Sometimes I made him listen to Hendrix ,too, on my Walkman. I mean we shared the Walkman..he had one ear phone and I, the other. Just to reassure him  that his ‘abnormal’ one ear did not bother me 🙂

When Hobbes entered his teens, trouble began. The chap became decidedly and embarrassingly horny!In the evenings , he would take his constitutional on the lawn. That was the time many people would come to meet my Dad, seeking his help as he was a police officer. Or his colleagues would come to visit him and discuss office politics. Or young officers would call on him.They would invariably be seated on my Ma’s beautiful lawn, drinking in the beauty of her roses,loving  our fan- tailed doves lazily sauntering about and sipping tea or lime juice. Suddenly, Thomas Hobbes would hurl himself on them and enthusiastically hump their leg hard. It used to be hilarious and I would double up with laughter at their shocked expression. But then my Dad got real mad at both me and Hobbes! Perhaps he imagined a whisper campaign starting against him? Somewhat like ‘Shahib has a strange , dirty rabbit” 😀

So we decided to get a mate for Hobbes and Dad imperiously ordered one of his flunkeys to do so. A pretty little rabbit came along and she was called ‘Tina”. Soon she grew up, but Hobbes showed absolutely no interest in her. I tied satin ribbons on her ears, sprayed her with my Ma’s Nina Ricci perfume, painted her nails red etc to make her desirable. Nothing worked.Meanwhile, Hobbes continued with his relentless molestation of my Dad’s guests and colleagues.

Worried, the police vet was called to examine Tina and suggest methods to improve her sex appeal. The vet checked her and announced hoarsely,  to everyone’s shock, that Tina was infact a male! Tina was  hurriedly changed to Tony. And to my Dad’s horror , became a devout disciple of Hobbes’ in the matters of molestation and arbitrary humping 😀

Both Hobbes and Tony lived a long, happy and ‘rangeela’ life 😀

My Dad has never forgotten them and refers to them as ‘those disgraceful rabbits of yours” 😀

I leave you all now with a song about rabbits..its a favorite 🙂 http://youtu.be/WANNqr-vcx0

And my sister, who is visiting me ,and me are remembering Hobbes and Tony fondly, as we dig into a tub of ‘Natural’ ice cream. Absolutely yummy! Its in ‘sitaphal’ or ‘custard apple ‘ flavour.http://www.naturalicecreams.in/ .Yeah, guys feed your head 😀

Wabi-Sabi Your Life

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This is my Golden Cocker Spaniel girl. She is called Ashlee Aishwarya. Her second name is from ‘Aishwarya Bachhan” who is a former Miss World and superstar in Bollywood. She is not a favorite actor of mine though, but undeniably beautiful. Well, my Ashlee is a rescue baby.She came to me when she was around 7/8 months old. Starved, tortured and beaten.She had terrible aggression problems because of sustained abuse.Gradually, with a lot of gentle handling she settled down. She regained her health, her coat is a mass of golden curls today. She learned to trust human again. Her attachment to my big sister , especially is very touching.

But, today my Ash baby, only 3 years old, can no longer see.She has become totally blind. Her eye sight was poor when she had come to me because she was not given any food when she was a pup.Let alone necessary nutritional supplements ! The damage to her eyes was irreversible, my vet told me, although we kept up a steady intake of Vitamin A.While she cannot see any more, her sense of smell is very, very strong and as the days go by, I think it keeps getting more acute.So also is her hearing. My sister’s gardener, who is Ash’s pet hate, has to tip-toe around the place!

I seem to love her more now though. She is damaged..but she is so brave, so beautiful , her  eyes shining with trust and so much love that  I am reminded of the Japanese concept of ‘Wabi-sabi”.

What is ‘Wabi-Sabi”? “Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent“. (http://nobleharbor.com/tea/chado/WhatIsWabi-Sabi.htm) Loosely translated, “wabi” is simplicity, whether elegant or rustic; “sabi” means the beauty of age and wear. 

Some years back, the accidental sufi had met with a terrible car accident.Although my injuries healed and I was back to normal within a short span of time, a  long,perpendicular scar remained on my right forehead. I was very conscious of it. Put it down to female vanity, but it troubled me a lot. I would brood .Although my sister told me that I look perfectly fine, I cried and harped on getting plastic surgery done.

Then, my Shams, gifted me a rough clay bowl. It was cracked.The crack had been filled with gold. Somewhat like the pic below.

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( Photo Credits :http://sloannota.com/blog/crash-art-kintsuori-and-modern-dreams/)The art of filling pottery with silver  or gold lacquer to repair the crack and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken is called ‘kintsukuroi” in Japanese.

And Shams explained “the difference between the Japanese “kirei-merely” or  “pretty” and “omoshiroi”, the interestingness that kicks something into the realm of beautiful”. I stopped thinking about plastic surgery 🙂

Much later  there was this terrible  upheaval in my personal life.My sister told me   ‘scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.’ My Ma gave me a photo of the Lord Jaganath to keep in my purse.Its frayed now…but  strength emanates from the folds.  My Shams wrote me this :”I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.” ( Clemetine von Radics)

All in their own ways living the wabi-sabi way and telling me to do so 🙂

So Ashlee Aishwarya, of the golden curls and the beautiful eyes , is wabi sabi-ing her life with me….we both heal each other everyday 🙂 Try adopting a broken damaged animal and heal it, guys, with your love.Your soul will smile, believe me 🙂

And what about love ? Well, wabi sabi love tells us to find perfect love in imperfect relationships .

And what is perfect love ? Ummm…anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of time. There are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn’t be one of them.

And what is an imperfect relationship? Ummm…the Shams sent me this pic.Says it epitomizes an imperfect relationship !  Oh by the way, he plans to make this the wallpaper in his house 😀

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( Photo Credit :http://waggingworld.com/2013/08/05/off-the-leash/ )

Alright guys, check this song. My kinda wabi sabi. It takes courage to attempt ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. Its not perfect. But its beautiful because Eddie Vedder sings it with so much belief and passion ,non? http://youtu.be/KhrmkCW6Ph8

Ta ta, guys !  *curtsies low* .Jeez, I need to work them  ahem gluteal muscles 😦 Auto suggestion : Wabi sabi your a*** woman…its perfect 😉


My Jill, My Beloved & My 4 am Friend

Its almost 2am here in New Delhi. The city hasn’t slept as yet. The weather I feel is balmy. Maybe some would say its hot. But there is this chill inside me which makes me crave warmth. I hardly touched the truly wonderful food at Sevilla (http://www.claridges.com/the-claridges-newdelhi/dining-sevilla.asphttp://www.claridges.com/the-claridges-newdelhi/dining-sevilla.asp ) .The ambiance failed to elicit ‘the smile I was looking for’. Those are my buddy Kabir’s words. He is my ‘4 am’ friend. You know the ones about whom Marlene Dietrich says “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 am that matter” 🙂 So he buys me iced Coke, drives me to the ‘Garden of Five Senses’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_Five_Senses ), bribes the leering night security, finds us the perfect place to sit and tells me seriously ‘to bare my heart’. Thankfully, I am saved by his irate –stood-up-girlfriend’s tirade on the cell. Atta girl! Lying, devious manipulations, declarations of undying love etc have managed to exhaust the man who now is stretched on the ground, snoring 🙂

Which leaves me free to blog 🙂 To make the blues go away. To remember and write about adopting and bringing Jill home, a couple of years back.

Jill, is a female, white Boxer. Today, she would be around 7 yrs old. She has three legs. Her right hind leg is smashed beyond repair. Perhaps, she was run over by a car? Or she had fallen off the roof? Why did her owners not have her treated? Why did they throw her out? Because of her deformity? Or maybe she was stolen, mercilessly bred by unscrupulous breeders and then just dumped? I never did find answers to all these questions. The shelter staff couldn’t help me out either. They only remembered her dragging herself painfully to them from the streets, to collapse…begging for help. She had been attacked by street dogs, stoned and jeered at by people.

She stayed in the shelter for over two years. The staff despaired over finding her a home. Even kindly visitors who fed and petted her , were taken in by her big ,beautiful eyes shied away from taking on the huge responsibility of a Special Needs K9. So my lovely Jill wasted away in the over crowded shelter, while I remained unaware of her because of my constant, work related foreign travel.

The day I saw her at the shelter, I brought her home with me forever.

Today, she is a beautiful Boxer in her prime. She has enormous amounts of energy, loves to run after the ball, adores balloons, pizza and cake. My other rowdy dogs treat her gently ,showing a tenderness which makes me misty eyed. They let her ‘win’ in their doggy games, never steal her treats, and allow her to greet me first ,every evening I come back from work 🙂

Here is Jill 🙂

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My sister and I have had dogs always since we were children. But we never had a rescued dog then, although we would always feed the strays, take care of their injuries etc. There were no animal shelters/animal rights organizations in our home state  Odisha, back then and so we remained unaware of the terrible crime of abandoning pets. But I remember, both of us putting up a strong protest for Golda. She was a beautiful Golden Retriever and a police dog, who had become ‘un-serviceable’ because of her age and was to be auctioned off as per Government regulations. My sister’s exceptional reasoning skills and my magnificent tantrums saved Golda. My Dad, who is an IPS officer, relented and Golda was allowed to live a dignified life in the police kennels till she died.

We were also clueless about the hateful business of backyard breeding. When I moved to Delhi, I gradually became aware of this heinous crime. But nothing had prepared me for the degree of human depravity that I saw for the first time at one of the ‘elite’ breeder’s ‘ huge farm’ in Bengaluru ,in 2003. There was a massive website of the ‘reputed’ breeder boasting of pedigreed dogs, sun ,space, excellent food and care for his ‘pride’, ‘his beautiful dogs’. Reality ? The ‘farm’ was a scrapyard. Male stud dogs were tied with thick iron chains in the open regardless of the weather. Two Neapolitan Mastiffs had broken legs which were never going to be treated; a GSD had maggot wounds in his ears; a Golden Retriever, with vacant eyes, was lying in its own urine and feces. The females were kept in such small iron cages that they couldn’t move. Many were pregnant. The breeder proudly told me he used hormonal injections to get the bitches in heat quickly for more litters. For quick money.

Thanks to the power of the Internet and the dedication of a global animal loving community , people are today aware of animal abuse in all its terrible forms.

Yet, many of us still go looking for that ‘oh cute puppy’, ignoring the beautiful, helpless animals in the shelters, begging to be saved. Or turn a blind eye to the torture at the breeding hells…

I am crying. I wish I could undo all this cruelty ….

Kabir has woken up. He looks at me worried. He calls up my guy in London. I refuse to speak with him. So my beloved guy, my Shams tells Kabir to take me home.

Kabir plays this on his mobile  :http://youtu.be/XZkKGoT9Gno 

And tells me that ‘s what I mean to a man,his friend, sitting in London 🙂

I smile. I call him up. I hear him tell me…… ( unfit to be published on blog ) 🙂 God, thank you for this love.

Tomorrow is another day, right ?  🙂

 Appeal : Please adopt. Don’t shop!

Adopt Happiness

Some days are really special. Like today, when I log into Facebook after a little  hiatus and see this pic.

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This is the picture of ‘Kade’ who has been adopted by my Facebook friend and his partner from CUPA ( Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Bangalore Pets for Adoption).

I will tell you the story behind this.

Around 2009, my friend and me became Facebook pals. Over the years, a virtual friendship evolved to a comfort level in which he could tell me how to make the perfect filter coffee. I haven’t  met him till date ,though.

Animals welfare/ rescue /adoption are my favorite  topics for Facebook status along with  the magic of Led Zeppelin and of course mooning over Jimmy Page. My friend would always like the posts about my beloved animals and lead an indulgent  virtual ear to my  ramblings about them.

When I started to blog ,I naturally wrote about my rescued and adopted babies. There are  my four girls: my English bulldog  Ms Jigar Ka Tukda,my Boxer Jill,my Golden Cocker Spaniel Ashlee Aishwariya,my Great Dane Layla. And yes, after a line of girls in a row, I kept trying for a son,like a typical Indian woman 🙂 Then I was blessed with Bruce Wayne,my little black miniature pug boy 🙂 All of them have had terrible pasts of cruelty, abuse and abandonment. But today, this ‘Motley Crue’ is a force to reckon with in the neighbourhood!

After reading my blog post about my bully girl Jigar, called ”Piece Of My Heart”, here is what my friend messaged me in the FB inbox “You write oh-so-well Dame!And, I must confess something.I am an absolutely no-pets person. My partner has always wanted to have a pet at home but I hadn’t agreed to it.(Yes, even after having known you here for quite a while and having always liked your pics of your darlings)And, yet, after reading your write-up about Jigar-ka-tukda, my eyes welled up. I felt I have done something wrong all these days – of not allowing my partner to have a pet as desired. We possibly could’ve had a rescued dog or a cat or something else but we didn’t.So, on Monday when I return from my trip to parents’, I’d be telling, “Please go ahead and get the pet you’ve always wanted to have. I’ll support you as much as possible“.

 Let me confess something. Although, I smiled when I read his message and hoped that an animal will be saved, I wasn’t really expecting it to happen.My cynicism stems from the numerous inbox messages I get about ”the great work I do for animals”, ”my compassion” blah, blah without anyone really doing even a wee bit for the precious lives languishing in the shelters. No volunteering,no donating, no fostering, no adopting. The ones who have done so are truly my FRIENDS and are spread all over the globe. I perhaps will never meet any of them but I know that ours will always be a bond of beauty and strength.

 
Well, coming back to my friend. We kept having an inbox conversation about  the pros and cons about adoption, the breed, how to take care , what should be the diet, how to deal with anxiety in both the humans and animal etc etc. I started to feel hopeful. I kept my fingers crossed. Come to think about it, even my toes 🙂
 
To be rewarded with the picture of this beautiful boy Kade today  and the words of my friend “Thank you ——  for inspiring us” (  the blanks are my name;how I wish the name could be  erm..Mrs Jimmy page; *deep sigh*) .
 
 I also just read an inbox message from my friend just  1/2 hour back which says “apart from the adoption of Kade by us, we – my partner largely – have influenced three other friends/couples to adopt an abandoned dog over getting a puppy. Successfully. You sure have started something BIG!”
 
 I am truly humbled. Thank you for your compassion, friend 🙂