December 22, 2011

Of Cats and Dogs but Mostly Cats

The question has been troubling me for a long long time. Am I a cat or a dog person? Well, for no apparent reason but for the fact that more often than not this is a question which was asked in almost all random tests in Quizilla. I wonder if the site even exists anymore! Also, genetically I was confused. My dad will shudder to have animals prowling around and my mom is the self professed saviour of cats, dogs, crows, sparrows, almost every living creature near our house.

Somewhere last year, I figured out my answer – thanks to Sheila and Munni. Of course, their slave prefers to address them in more anglicized names of Tiu and Whiskey. Now when Sheila came to stay in our house, we had all thought it was temporary. She had been abandoned, would have died if left behind and my friend, who perhaps will not bother to come to Cal to meet me, suddenly had this epiphany and got Sheila home.

And I loved him for it. Behind the hard, tough exterior was always the man I knew he was and it took a kitten to bring it out. The conversation had gone as follows:

He: “Dude I am bringing home a kitten.”
Me: “Niceeeeeeeeeee.... you want me to leave the house?”
“nahhhhh. Why should you?”
“Dudeeeeeeeeeeeeee... Won’t you need some privacy?”
“ and your kitten”
“yeah. Just found her”
“Dude!!! Are you serious? How long you’ve known her? It’s not safe you know.”
“I know. Have to figure out the vaccination bit.”
“Hang on!!! What??? You mean kitten as in some babe you are seeing right?”

Well I should have known better.

And then after few days Munni followed as he studied and figured out, a cat needs a friend beyond him.

So while I shared my house with Sheila and Munni, I realized I was not a cat person even though they are fascinating creatures. They like their own private space. If you are the one who is feeding them, you should feel grateful that she is allowing you to. Cats are royalty. And it shows. Animals who move in packs, like wolves and dogs, can’t claim to be so. The way a cat arches her back and gets ready to spring is ergonomically beautiful and if you press their paws open, you see the claws come out. It’s scary. The feline species are amongst the most gorgeous in the animal kingdom and not without reason.

They don’t love you. They tolerate you. They own every minute of your existence. You must be at their beck and call, not like a dog who you can train to fetch. You can never be the master of a cat. Their cleanliness is legendary. I still remember, V had to show Sheila where to poop just once on the night he got her home and a kitten barely a few days old never once missed. Way smarter than human babies!

Sheila slowly dominated the household. She was the undisputed queen of our lives. Munni was reduced to being a chambermaid for her Royal Highness. And Sheila realized very early that I am scared of her. So while my room was out of bounds, Sheila like the Queen she is, never once tried to get in while I was at home. But Munni, the little lost chambermaid would always try to snoop in. She epitomized the story of the curious cat.

I love Sheila and Munni. They stayed with us only for a little while before they went to stay with V’s parents. But while they were here, they made our lives a little more humane in Mumbai than just going to office and coming back. Swati Didi loved them too and did not ever once complain. And that’s a big thing.

But because I myself fall amongst the proletariat, handling royalty becomes a challenge for me.

So I guess, it’s Bow Wow for me. Get Pluto home next to figure out!

December 17, 2011

One Less than the Dreaded

Apparently turning 30 is a big thing. I guess I will figure it out as and when I turn 30. But the year before has been no less awesome either. The day I turned 29, was pretty big, at least for me. I was not just in a new city, it was the first time I was out of the country for my birthday and it felt like some long forgotten dream of a school boy in Calcutta was coming true.

When I was growing up I was hooked on to the idea of wanderlust – but like so many of us growing up in the eighties and the nineties, I could only travel to the Pyramids in my mind and that’s why I read. I read to feel what it would be like to stand on the shores of a different ocean, what the world beyond my window looked like. This year was the one when I actually became what I had dreamt of becoming, well not in its entirety but to a great extent. And it feels nice. The best part is however not visiting new countries but about meeting new people, understand how they are living their lives, how the world is so different, yet so alike. To be honest, if I ever visit Egypt, which I really want to, I would perhaps choose meeting an Egyptian mother talking about her vision for her kids rather than stand beneath the pyramids.

I guess priorities change as we grow up.

To be frank, birthdays don’t mean much to me. If I believe in the Advaita philosophy of life, it’s just one more illusion. I really like what was said of Osho (Osho and Advaita are as different perhaps as Megan Fox and me) when he passed away. It went something like, “he was neither born, nor did he die; he just came to travel between these dates.”

I do believe I am on a journey here. I meet people on the way, have a great time and then we continue on our own respective journeys. Some people we spend more time with than others but ultimately it’s all about being alone.

This is why I probably don’t remember anyone else’s birthday either. But I really respect people who make it an effort to remember birthdays and ensure that their friends are not alone on this day.

While I was in college, my birthday marked the beginning of the exams. And it took away peace and tranquillity from my life as everyone came together to spend their pent up frustration on my posterior in true BITSian tradition. When I started working, it was typically working till late on the night before, trying to finish stuff before the holiday season. This year the good part was that a very close friend took the time out to make sure the date it not forgotten and somewhere you do begin to feel good about the fact that you were born even though you know it’s all an illusion at the end of the day.

I was woken up around 5:30 in the morning being addressed as the female species of the canine family. When Mallus go to Nigeria, they typically acquire a new sense of humour. Anyway, apparently I had committed a grave crime by not putting up my birthday on Facebook. So while on the phone, before the sun was up on World Aids Day, I was updating my FB profile. Now you actually can’t think clearly that early in the morning.

This year has been kind to me. I have seen the best and the worst a professional life can show you. I have made friends beyond my usual circle. I have started my journey to understand numerous cultures beyond my own, I have sung karaoke, I have done kick boxing! I have finally figured out the order of my cols preferences with Pepsi Max winning the top honours.

On the flip side – my grandmother still can’t figure out what I do for a living.