RIDERS ON THE STORM: A GREAT DANE CALLED LAYLA & ME

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( While you read , listen to this

)

 

This story is about Layla, a Great Dane.

 

Layla wasn’t just a dog who was rescued by Friendicoes and adopted by me five years back.

 

She and I , in the words of the beautiful JIm Morrison, were riders on the storm.

 

She came into my life and rescued me ,actually. Layla silenced my demons and danced with my angels.

 

I was going through a major personal crisis.

 

My marriage of twelve years had broken up.Although, I was very sure that I would not spend my life with a man who had turned into a stranger,  all those who have gone through it would agree that it is tough. And tough if you are a woman. And especially more tough, if you are and also perceived to be from a higher “ status’ family vis-a-vis the husband who spared no effort in painting  a picture of me as a  spoilt-arrogant-rich- bitch.

 

Rant:I am so bloody glad he is out of my life. It was my mistake all along. I failed to read/recognize the warning signs! The chap didn’t like dogs or Led Zeppelin

 

Auto suggestion: Stop!

 

Yes, let me not digress by talking about a deplorable human and a loser .

 

Let me tell you , instead, about a beautiful animal and a winner.

 

Layla’s story is a typical one which I have seen in my many, many years of being associated with animal rights and welfare. A pedigreed puppy bought for a huge sum of money to enhance status. The puppy grows into a huge Great Dane who requires love and attention,daily walks,exercise, grooming, nutritious food and supplements- all of which cannot be handled by Chotu or the private security guard, who proceed to abuse/hit the dog and keep her chained.The  Great Dane turns aggressive, falls sick and is then promptly dumped in Friendicoes.

 

‘Can you take her in , Aparajita ? “, asked ( the very wonderful) Geeta Sheshmani of Friendicoes, a trifle desperately. That evening, I remember, nine dogs of various pedigrees and age  had been abandoned at the already overflowing shelter.It was human callousness and cowardice at its worst!Abandoning that dog who was completely dependent on you for no fault of his except that he was either sick or old or you were leaving town!

 

I hesitated. I had never kept a Great Dane before and knew nothing about the breed. I worried that I stayed in a first floor apartment. I had a demanding job. The dog was aggressive. And  I also was not ready for another dog I felt. I had just lost my Boxer girl and my three other ones had been dropped off in my parents’ home as I planned to take a break and just travel ( Read: wander)

 

One look at that regal face and the  Eric Clapton moment happened ‘Layla, you got me on my knees”. We both fell for each other! ‘’Alpha females bonding” , laughed my sister, when I told her about bringing Layla home.

 

That is how a great friendship and love story started . MIne & Layla’s.

 

Her world revolved around me and me alone. Though she was attached to my family when they came visiting, her eyes would search mine out and signal that she loved me best. She would sleep the whole day ,  only to wake up at 6 pm, when she knew I would be returning.She never lost that aggressiveness towards people and her fierce protection towards me sent many a Romeos wanting to come up for coffee, scurrying. Those fact and fiction about a single woman being ‘hunted’ ? Well, Layla jaan pooh-pooed them away with her  deep throated bark that struck fear in the most amorous male heart and other male appendages! Great Danes are called gentle giants. Yes,  with me she was gentle …an exquisite tenderness which wrapped my heart and soul in deep layers of unconditional love.

 

As for me. Layla was the most important person in my life too. Even in the dead December cold of Delhi, I would wake up at 4 am and take her for a two hour walk every day in the Jahanpannah city forest and park.  That did me a whole lotta good actually , saving me from stress binging!When my  Bong cook would disappear because of the repeated excuses of “ami bemaar”,’’ bou bemaar’’, ‘baaacha bhishon bemaar”, I would exist on leftover pizza, but  would cook Layla’s food every day. I preferred spending time with her instead of attending all the happening do’s that I keep getting invited to. My holidays were infrequent too. Not because Layla wouldn’t have been looked after, but because even a few days away from her seemed an eternity. Life felt so incomplete without that beloved face next to me in the morning.

 

LIke all Danes, she was great fun and goofy too!  Those moment of Dane craziness resulted in many broken vases and punctured cushions. And the Lord help me,she honestly thought she was a lap dog ! Her great weakness was Britannia’s ‘Little Heart ‘ biscuits and chicken tikka, a weird snack combo, we adopted for our Friday night JIm Morrison, Led Zeppelin, JImi Hendrix etc etc jam sessions.  Oh yeah, we were solid , old school rocker chicks!

 

I lost her to the dreaded bloat disease.It was very quick.She thankfully did not suffer much.I rushed her to the vet praying like I have never prayed before in my life. But, we both knew in those fleeting seconds before she collapsed, that we have to let go of each other. Her eyes looked into mine and I read them .’’ This is the end, beautiful friend…..my only friend”, she told me.

 

She died in my arms.

 

I wept like I have never wept before and understood for the first time what being broken meant .

 

I know I will never get over that feeling of complete loss and abandonment. I dont want to also.It is a very bitter sweet feeling ,you know. Thinking about her causes me great pain and great happiness, both. I will adjust to live in that love and loss,once again…slowly rebuild myself. I will become whole again but I will never be the same.

 

I grieve her and I know it is forever .For grief and love come together.I realize that no one can take Layla’s place . I have loved many a times…all the beautiful animals who have been a part of my heart and life. But, she will rule over them all . ….the queen of hearts.

 

Here are a few photographs of Layla & me. I smile , through my tears as I listen to the very recognized, very loved riffs of Clapton’s ‘’ Layla’….remembering and yearning .

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SHE TAKES AWAY A PIECE OF MY HEART

That awful empty feeling haunts me once again. I lost my English bulldog, Jigar ka Tukda, this morning. She was adopted by me six years back from Friendicoes and named after the Janis Joplin number, ”Piece of my Heart”.

I remember the day I saw her while I was feeding boiled eggs to the dogs at the shelter. She came and sat a little distance away and watched me. I was shocked at her appearance. She had no hair and was covered with sores all over. There was a terrible stench emanating from her body.

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( Abandoned @ Friendicoes)
Maybe she realized this? And possibly was shunned because of it ? So she was careful not to come near me? I smiled and held out an egg to her. The look she gave me is one that I will never forget in my life….one of joy and implicit trust. That was also the day she took away a piece of my heart, tucked it into her tubby lil body firmly and named me ‘Egg Lady”.

Jigar moved into my heart, home and life and went on to become a Facebook sensation amongst my friends. They loved to hear about her antics and marveled at her recovery. Fed on a diet of love and generous slices of pizza, Ms Jigar had a thing for wearing lingerie too and loved Victoria’s Secret stuff. She was inordinately proud of her butt which she believed rivaled Kim Karadishan’s. Many a times, I would wake up in the morning, finding it difficult to breathe! That bully-butt would be on my chest!
She became firm friends with the New Delhi-Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani express First AC staff when she travelled with me frequently. A breakfast of boiled eggs and paneer cutlets came especially for her from the pantry car! Her snores and farts were deafening and shattered the peace of my Dad’s reading time. ‘Disgraceful”, he would mutter and fix a baleful eye on me. But, many a times, I did see him sharing his buttered toast and omelet with her.

Here are some pictures of her. She led a happy, pampered life for seven years with me.

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( The famous butt along with her teddy called Marylin Monroe)

 

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( Relaxing)

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( The Love For Lingerie)

 

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( On the Rajdhani Express train)

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( Playing with her teddy bear called Marylin Monroe)

 

jigar

( Momma’s piece of heart)
I hurt…. I hurt so bad. <blockquote>”It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” ( Lemony Snickett, ‘Horseradish’)</blockquote> I am trying to re-adjust too… not check out lingerie with her online, not share my pizza, not dance to item numbers ( she loved <em>’Shiela ki Jawani'</em>),not getting her stink eye, not holding that paw she extended when she thought I was low.

So Jigar is gone. She had been unwell since the last two days and was refusing food. I was not with her to say goodbye. But she played ball with my nephew, whom she adored, one last time , this morning. And yes, perhaps she remembered me too…her ‘Egg-Lady’…for she had a boiled egg, one last time, before she left me. About that piece of my heart? She has taken it with her.

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Appeal from Jigar & Me : ADOPT!PLEASE DON’T SHOP!
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The Power Of Commercials

So, I was idly watching television and came across the commercial featured above.Its the Mahindra KUV 100 which has been recently launched. The commercial, in the words of the company, features the ‘Young SUV’ and the ‘Dashing’ Varun Dhawan.

To me , it also features an adorable Boxer dog.

As the commercial progresses, one sees that the main protagonist picks up his friends, goes on an awesome drive, chills out on a great looking spot etc. Then he spots a rather pretty girl sitting on the bonnet of the vehicle who he proceeds to take on a drive.  At the end,he gets lucky, says the commercial, which translates to both hitching up and yeah, he ‘gets a life’.All pretty nice and gung-ho, I must say. Except that it rankled that the man forgot his dog! When the man does get back to his friends & dog along with his lady love and vrooms away, the Boxer dog no longer sits by his side. Its the girlfriend who sits in the front seat to soon sidles closer to him. The end shot is the girl friend sitting between the man and his friend. The dog is in the back seat.

To me , that’s epic fail! I would much rather that the dog sat in the front seat and finally always between the man and the girl! Wouldn’t you want that too ?

That gets me to two important issues:

  1.  In  all my years of loving animals and working with rescues/shelters, I have come across  many abandonment cases  of pets when a special new human walks into the owner’s life. Usually its a baby and the reasons are that he/she is allergic to dog fur or that the now poor ignored dog is’ hostile ‘ to the baby. Sometimes it has been the unbelievable ‘My girl/boyfriend or husband/wife doesn’t like dogs’ ! Both are absolutely horrible and stupid reasons for abandoning your pet! Animals are very special people actually. They feel just as we feel- a whole gamut of emotions including jealousy. So they need to feel included whenever there is a change in the family size. And, seriously, I don’t think I would like to stay with a man who wont accept my dog. That translates to him not accepting someone/something I love, right? He really does not care about my happiness; is not willing to adjust;would tend to be dismissive of anything that is not on his radar.
  2. Lets talk of the power of advertisements and commercials. As always they are, both, reflective of the times we live in and also a means to tell us what the ‘ideal’ is. They can be and most are powerful agents of social change and influence behavior . Thus,  models today face flak for influencing women, especially young girls, to be emaciated, anorexic and bulimic in order to look fashionable and chic. Positively, in India we have had in the recent past commercials which seek to promote tolerance, celebrate diversity, empower women etc. As such, ad people and commercials directors should be truly careful about what message they are trying to convey. The power of visuals is very great.

 Many would be a tad dismissive of my thoughts on this. Possibly, many will also say that I am reading a bit too much into a commercial. Some of my friends will grin and remember an ex of mine (who stuck around for quite a while ) who could impress me only by feeding stray dogs! I later found out that he was a huge phoney and loser. Shouldn’t have ignored my dogs’ dislike of him 🙂 Ha!

Alright, check this out. Wouldn’t you rather buy a Chevy ? I would.

C’mon Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, get the dog in front,please.A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself!

The Pug Who Loved Mangoes

Lately, I have taken to learning Urdu. Gulzar shaheb says “kahin kuchh dur se kaano mein padhti hai agar Urdu,To lagta hai, Jaadon ke din han,khidki khuli hui hai,dhoop andar aa rahi hai” ( Translation:When Urdu reaches the ears from a distance,It appears,As if on a Winter’s day, the window is open and the sunshine is pouring in ).  While I started with trying to learn it online, I soon realized that the nuances of this beautiful language necessitates the guidance by an Urdu scholar. From the coming weekend, an Urdu teacher is going to come to my house in the mornings , every Saturday & Sunday and teach me the language.

But when I start my Urdu lessons on Saturday, I shall miss my little pug Bruce Wayne ( Read about Bruce here: :http://www.huffingtonpost.in/aparajita-mohapatra/the-dark-knight-rises-bru_b_7262612.html )

Why ? Well,because Bruce like the great Mirza Ghalib loved mangoes! Reading about this great poet in ‘Ghalib:  Life, Letters & Ghazals’, by Ralph Russell, I found that Ghalib was a mango-lover extraordinaire.Altaf Hussain Hali, Ghalib’s student and biographer,  in his book Yaadgaar-e Ghalib, tells the story  of Hakeem Raziuddin Khan, who while visiting Ghalib noted that a passing donkey had just sniffed at a mango peel and kept moving along. Look, said the Hakeem, even donkeys don’t eat mangoes. True, replied the poet, donkeys don’t eat mangoes! Over this mango season,my little pug and me had  been feasting on mangoes as we struggled to pronounce and understand Mirza Ghalib.

It seems strange that Bruce would prefer mangoes over chicken or meaty bones, but he did! Each time he spotted me getting a mango, he would turn on his formidable charm with a little rakish grin and soon we would both be ecstatically eating the fruit. My Bong cook would look at us and disbelievingly mutter a theatrical “Odhboot” ( Uncanny/Abnormal). Last mango season when we had gone to my parents’ home , Bruce would bark excitedly, much to everybody’s incredulous amusement, whenever a ripe mango fell making a ‘plop’ noise. The other dogs were a bit condescending towards the little guy’s obsession with mangoes, but  Bruce Wayne always smirked with the knowledge of one who is intellectually superior, chuckling in doggy lingo “Brains always over brawn & balls”.Yes, this little miniature pug could hold his ground amongst my  bid breeds like Boxers, a German Shepherd, a Great Dane. He had a Zen like countenance and  attitude to life which made  my sister call him ‘Puga Master’.

He was becoming a little frail and I had realized the end was nearing. A few days back  I had ordered a pram online, so I that I could take him for a walk in the park.’You aren’t serious?” said a friend. ‘I am’, I had replied firmly.’Brucie loves going for a walk, and if he is not strong enough to walk, I shall wheel him in a pram”, both Bruce and me fixed the chap with a baleful glare reserved for Philistines and refused to speak with him. Later, Bruce asked me to forgive him after he got us a half litre tub of Natural’s mango ice cream.

So, the Master left me yesterday. He went peacefully and yes after eating two huge mangoes.

He was a little warrior, fighting humans and fate, which had tried to break him.He emerged victorious over tremendous physical and mental abuse..Inside that tiny little body was an indomitable spirit. The Greek, Heraclitus, says of a warrior:”Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back”. Bruce brought me back many, many times from life’s battlefield of uncertainty and anguish.

I am happy that he died peacefully. Yes, I am grateful that he didn’t linger or suffer.

But I cry.

How does one hide from something which will never go away ?

By not hiding from it.

So each time I will eat a mango and read Ghalib, I will remember you Bruce….khuda hafiz…I wish the Rainbow Bridge had visiting hours.

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps

(NB: This post needs to be read with my earlier post of November 21st, 2014, ‘Gotcha Dad’)

My  immediate neighbors are very successful and rich people.The man’s old father, possibly aged 90 years, stays with them. He is confined to a wheel chair. Sometimes I see him from my  first floor balcony, as he painfully wheels himself to his, to throw biscuits/bread etc to a really old ,blind dog, who sits on the lawn below.

The old father is taken for a ‘walk’ on his wheel chair by a servant boy, who is invariably chatting on his cell phone. He is not really bothered to connect with the old man.To him,its just a job/chore , naturally, for which he gets paid.This morning, I saw my smart, successful neighbors leave for their walk.No ‘Goodmorning’ or even a glance at the old father about to be wheeled out. I saw his face.There was such a longing on his face.It was so wistful. His expression said “Maybe, for just one day,  son , please take me for a walk?”. I have found out that the senior dog in the lawn is the old man’s. He has been banished from the house because he is half-paralyzed and thus has urine incontinence.So much more convenient to just abandon him.It seems the old man protested weakly when the dog was kicked out, so my cook tells me.Delhi is getting really cold. Just saying.

The accidental sufi prays to God: Please never make me a coward like them. Never let that voice inside me die with relation to anybody I love.” There is a voice inside of you,That whispers all day long,”I feel this is right for me,I know that this is wrong.”No teacher, preacher, parent, friend Or wise man can decide,What’s right for you–just listen to,The voice that speaks inside” ( Shel Silverstein). And may that voice always lead me to  do great/right things, sacrifice for those I love, even if I have to bleed.Let me realize that my blood does not matter, but their tears do.

You will remember my Dad’s dog Tommy? The pup died.My Dad called me up to tell me ,late this morning. His voice was strong as always.Only his daughter could have picked up the heartache in his voice.I read him a passage from John Grogan “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them”. I couriered the book to him in the afternoon.I am terribly worried about him for I know such heartache.I am unable to be with him.

I will heal you, Dad. Only a wounded healer can heal. The accidental sufi is one.

And Dad, I love you. Because, you were/are/ will always be there for me.You would never leave me.

( I saw this movie ‘Interstellar’, yesterday. Amongst its many magnificently beautiful moments,was the father-daughter relationship)

The accidental sufi cries as she listens to this http://youtu.be/F3RYvO2X0Oo Life is so savagely beautiful.

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 :).

Of Cats and My Ma

Well, the debate in the British Parliament, regarding the mice menace and the importance/necessity of having cats around, has had positive  repercussions in my parental house in  the sleepy state of Odisha, Eastern India. Specifically, reports have reached me that my Ma is showing ‘overt’ liking for the teeming cat population in our house as contrasted with her earlier ‘covert’ fondness.

Let  me introduce our cats. We don’t have any pedigree cats.You know like the Perisan, Siamese etc etc. Our cats are the  ‘common’ ones which are to be found all over homes, towns ,cities in India. If they are of a particular breed, I have to confess ignorance on the matter. They are of various shapes, sizes, coat lengths, colors and temperaments. The one common feature is that they are all beautiful and special in their own way.

I really can’t tell you ,also, the number of cats we have 🙂 Alright, this needs a detailed explanation.

1. The Inside Cats: These are the ones who stay inside the house and we have 5 of them. Mister, Jerry,Tommy, Billy Bolly and Meow. They get along very well with our dogs and there is harmonious  and most of the time peaceful co-existence.  However,Mister, golden -orange and with a mane rivaling Robert Plant’s   is the Boss of the house,lording it over my Dad too.

2. Friends of Inside Cats: Our five cats have beautiful manners and  have been brought up with all the right and required social skills. Naturally, thus, they have a vast array of friends who again naturally have to visit our house.

3. Sufi Cats: These are  not permanent cats  at our home. But are the wanderers, travelers and seekers. They come with their tales of faraway neighborhoods and colonies. They stay for a short time and move on in their search for eternal truth,better fish etc

4. Poor Cats : The abandoned ones.Who are left on our doorstep by the entire neighborhood and who either are found new homes or are elevated to the  vague status of  ‘outside’ cats and loiter around aimlessly,peacefully.

5. CNG:  Or ‘Cats Non Grata’ i.e. unwelcome  tom cats, who do not believe in Gandhi ji’s principles of ‘ahimsa’/non-violence.

Whatever may be their categorization, with the exception of the inside cats, all are fed twice a day. Meals consist of bread and milk in the morning and fish biryani , late in the evening. My sister and me are deeply thankful to the local fishmonger, Trilochan, who supplies us  not only with fish remains, but invariably fish also, at no cost!On his way home, he drops off a sack of fishy stuff for the cats.Our repeated attempts to give him money were/are met with a smile, shake of the head and ‘ I do not have  a daughter, didi. So I have adopted my Shahib’s ( my Dad) daughters’. Which makes me realize that there are many such relationships that society has no name for/does not recognize…but they are those which are more true  and deep.

The inside cats have formed the  CB/CID i.e ‘Cat Bureau’/’Cat Intelligence Department’. Their target is our cook. A hapless victim , the poor man has to bear the brunt of my mother’s wrath at diminished quantities of milk and cream that result purely from operations of the CB/CID. But since the man enjoys robust health, my Ma is unable to shake off the suspicion, that he probably filches the milk. Many a times , I congratulate him, in my Ma’s presence, on his good health and red cheeks with ” You are looking good!Must drink milk to maintain your health” . The cats and me then grin evilly  as Ma laser beams the guy 😀

Romantic and love -is-in-the-air months in cat-land can be a trifle un-nerving, though. My sister and me would run at the dead of the night, with buckets of water,screaming at the top of our voices to save our boys  as they wooed their damsels, who were simultaneously being wooed by the CNG’s. Ours is a musically inclined family and so our cats believed in serenading the ladies too. Many styles  and genres of  meowing..sorry, singing, were employed. While Mister had the baritone of Ustaad Fayaz Khan Saheb, Tommy had the soulfulness of   Hemant Kumar, Jerry had the powerful perfection of Ronnie James Dio etc. The combined , fusion effect was explosive and did nothing for my Ma’s blood pressure.

Threatened on a daily basis about our ‘unruly’, disobedient’, ‘noisy’ ,’greedy’ ‘thieving’ etc etc cats,  we couldn’t convince our Ma that they provided excellent protection from mice etc  My “These are our Mousers.By Valhalla, yeah, these are  legendary hunters,Ma’ would be met with ‘You girls have turned my house into a mad house with your cats, dogs, squirrels , monkeys, rabbits blah-blah-blah”.She didn’t know then, and neither did I, that some years later a donkey baby would also be adopted by me and named Socrates 😀 But that’s a story for another time! Yee-haw.

Past connection with England as  my maternal grandfather studied at Oxford,  the apple- of- her eye  grandson studying currently in London, and the  rather alarming degree of her daughter -the accidental-sufi ‘s  madness/devotion to Jimmy Page, make my Ma deeply interested in happenings in Britain. Somehow the call of MP Anne McIntosh  for Parliament to take rescue cats from a nearby London shelter to deal with the mice problem,has struck a chord in her 🙂

Our cats, my sister and me now await an official budget sanction from Ma 🙂

Oh, by the way guys,  I quite love this : “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” ( Robert.A.Heinlein)

Meow!  http://youtu.be/0k6mQyu2GxM 🙂

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 😀

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 🙂