Author Archives: pradsword

I miss those days….

This is a piece of nonsense written during college days. Miss the freedom to not only think, but act stupid and get away with it…

Plagiarism for dummies…..
Plagiarim is one skill every management student needs  to master! I mean…its not a joke to actully prepare a 55-paged project report within 2 days….it requires LOT OF DEDICATION!! These are broadly steps involved in preparing a project report (mind you: Research project) within 2 days…
1. Day one: a)- Go to http://www.google.com and look
up on every DAMN word you can think of that is related
to this topic.
b)- Search on Google.
c)- Search on Google.
d)- Search on Google.
e)- Do not forget to save all the stuff which you think is important. This is as good as testing your
analytical skills. Because you have to analyse what is relevant that can be used, what all can be directly
copied and pasted and still can seem original and finally what all will have to undergo cosmetic surgery.
f)- Go to sleep…!!!that was a Loooooong (notice
similarity with Gooooogle) day!!!

2. Day two: a)- Write a long acknowledgement thanking your professor and every tom, dick and harry whose help doesnt sound phoney.
b)- Write a sensational executive summary…for that look up on Gooooooogle again for some totally
mind-smashing quote/incident. That shouldnt require much of time, given all the expertise you would have gained in ‘searching’ the previous day!
c)- Prepare an ornate table of contents full with topics, sections and sub-sections..dont forget to
insert header/footer/watermark….
d)- All the IMPORTANT work has been done…now totally trivial work remains: open all the saved files, do following:
i) Copy and paste everything.
ii)Insert LOT of jargons in between.
e)-Write a Conclusion which sounds totally heartfelt.
(PS: Prepare a copy of acknowlegements and conclusion which can be used for every arbit project..so that
you’ll save a LOT of time next time out of those 2 days….)
f)-Add Annexures: Make sure these are the files from which you HAVENT copied…..
g)-Mail the report….

As is evident, all this process is totally complicated and requires lot of meticulous work…besides what
about all the exhaustion one suffers from? constant clicking especially might hurt your fingers….Howvere, as we know, there’s no way out…life of a management student is really busy….

A few more thoughts on the thoughtless state

Vipassana. Of all the types of meditation that I’ve known (And tried my hand at sporadically – like once in 2-3 years or so 😦 ), Vipassana was the only practice that showed some immediate results. There is of course a logical explanation for that. I had no escape from it. I had no other option. Here was I, removed from the urban hullabaloo, at a secluded place somewhere in a village with all my tools of communicating – cell phone, paper, pen etc surrendered at the reception of the resort where this course took place. In addition, I wasnt supposed to talk to anyone AND all that happened for the duration of the course – 10 days, no less, was meditation. From 4. am… till 8 pm. The only windows of communication – daily 2 minute feedback session with the instructor in the afternoon and the series of video lectures every evening at 8 pm – where we were oriented on the philosophy of Vipassana. Of course the video lectures were one way communication – but still they began to matter because quiet and silence can be intimidating!

I was all gung-ho about observing all the rules. Namely, observe silence – try to avoid even meeting eyes with anyone – practise meditation as per the instructions – for as many hours as asked of us and even practise homework given to us. I had a roomie and it helped that even she shared my enthusiasm. For 10 days, both of us observed these rules perfectly, even while sharing a room, we did not look eye to eye and were thankful about it :).  I had gone there, simply because I knew it was supposed to be a difficult course – like a penance and I wanted to test it for myself. Besides, I was curious. Now I’d be hard pressed to explain why. In fact perhaps, having experienced it once, it suddenly seems like a difficult thing to do again. Since back then, I had no idea, no pre conceived notions, I nursed a bravado….though the experience was all worth the ordeal I must say.

Though based on Buddhist philosophy, several of its tenets are similar to what we Hindus too believe – especially Karma theory and re-birth. A spirit – ‘aatma’- is eternal – a witness to time. It has been subject to various acts, feelings, emotions, experiences over various births and a sort of debris  – of unfulfilled wishes, long-held emotions – positive and negative piles up over the pureness that is aatma.So the inner voice communicates to one’s mind in this birth only through the filters of various ‘sanskars’ or the positive or negative attachments / impressions / trash that has accumulated over lifespans  – and so it may not always be pure. That our actions and thoughts in the present life are mostly guided by these sanskars of past lives. Vipassana is the technique to slowly remove the debris and uncover the purity. As you slowly grow into the technique, you begin to experience sensory level various positive and negative vibes. Sometimes you shiver – out of fear, the other times, you shiver – out of pleasure. There are certain very prevalent sensations – you learn to associate them with a feeling. The object of Vipassana is to not only unearth, but also avoid further accumulation of trash. The only way there can be further trash is when mind is not in equilibrium – the non-zero state. Any external stimuli – an event, a person, an object, a place will result in a ‘thought’ – which may be positive or negative – which is actually aatma’s response to that stimulus – but once through Vipassana, one learns to differentiate non-equilibrium state from the equilibrium state at sensory level, one can attempt to restore the balance as soon as possible and thus restrict the impact of that particular stimulus . In other words, if ‘fear’ is the major emotion that I have accumulated over my life spans, Vipassana teaches me to slowly reduce it and also differentiate it at sensory level from other emotion, say ‘anger’. If a meditator practises Vipassana regularly, over the time, he/she may actually recognize when the fear is subtly creeping into the mind, before it manifests itself in a reaction like say anxiety or any other reaction, hold on to that moment and try to prevent that emotion from affecting the spirit any further. Another tenet was to live in ‘Now’, ‘present’ and not dwell either on past or future… that way you can control the amount of unnecessary thoughts.

Hard to explain it is…. but most of the people did experience a plethora of sensations… positive AND negative. The ultimate goal of Vipassana is eventually to become fully detached – to LIVE in a zero state. The seclusion and silence were necessary rules to avoid any external stimuli – so was absence of things like TV, phones, pen, paper, reading materials etc. We were not allowed to practise anything from our religions.

It WAS madness for first 3 days. I couldn’t sleep. I believed then that silence would be capable of killing anyone. I was scared. Thousands of thoughts were floating in my mind, though there wasnt anyone to talk to. At nights I lay awake and wondered how I had made it throught all these years with these many number of thoughts all running parallely…I had never realised it before. Just like when entire city’s lights go off, suddenly, sky seems to be filled with thousands of stars… though not all my thoughts were that beautiful or even remotely entertaining… silence got scarier at times. Not talking to anyone was an unachievable feat for the talkative goose that yours truly can be….

 I was repenting the over enthusiastic and uninformed decision that I’d made to take the course. On the 3 rd afternoon, I told my instructor that I hadn’t slept for more than 48 hours. She said it was okay, since I was just breathing  – it was all fresh air and in the midst of nature.My body probably did not need the rest and that is why I hadn’t slept. Post lunch, they initiated us into Vipassana (diksha) – when we were finally taught the technique. That is when I felt this was going to work. It was a smooth sailing thereafter. The thoughts slowly reduced. Occassionally I’d drift in and out of thoughtless state. Though I never stayed there for long.

Chanting of mantras, concentrating on a colour, a deity, tratak etc are all ways of stilling mind. Because one busies him/herself in this act, they reach closer to zero state – neither living in past /nor in future, devoid of any emotions. It requires great patience and I admire all those who have maintained patience and continued to practise. Unfortunately, it took me a tragedy to be reminded of the fact that I can make my own living better – that I already know how.

Zero state of being

Truth! What is the truth of life? Karma theory? perhaps. But the demise of a close relative this week has reminded me once again of a far greater and immediate truth. That we are pawns in the greater scheme of things. All hopes,dreams, ambitions, plans – everything, even the relations – father, mother, siblings, children, spouse, feelings – joy, love, hatred, jealousy, anger, ego – everything seems so meaningless, paltry, tiny, petty in the face of the fact that we don’t have control over our lives. At the end of the day – rather at the end of one’s life or quite often, even while living it, one is alone in essence. All the riches, all the pleasures, the relations, the affection – all of it loses relevance the moment you cease to exist. Sure, you’ll leave behind a legacy, heirs, riches etc – but you’d have gone through agony, frustrations, struggles to achieve it and only to conclude that it suddenly doesn’t matter anymore….So what do we plan for then? what do we dream for? why do we nurse an ambition? what is the purpose of all this?
That a man may propose lots, but the God may dispose without mercy. A minute one may plan to experience the greatest pleasure of life and the next moment he may not exist anymore…

I remember the teachings of Vipassana course that I took almost 5 years back,out of sheer curiosity. 10 days full of rigorous meditation – in a secluded place, right from 4 am in the morning till 8 pm at night. I followed it to the T. For 10 days, I did not speak with anyone, except with my instructor, once in a day! What an experience it was….at the end of it, I was convinced that the teachings WOULD work, should a person practise the type of meditation regularly. Well, the goal of Vipassana was to reach and remain in zero state of mind.

Zero state of being! what would it be? the experience of a moment extended through the practice of life time! A state of mind with no negatives….and likewise, no positives either! a phase of time with no fears, sorrows, anger and likewise no laughter, hopes or love… a vacuum perhaps?? devoid of ‘feelings’? That is why timeless state of being! Feelings are always with reference to some event in time – past-present-future – and one’s reaction to it! So zero state of being must be timeless experience.I cannot say that I havent experienced it. During the course of Vipassana, I had smallish glimpses now and then, into the world of quiet. But the moment I was out of that cocoon of seclusion and into the madness of day-to-day life, I unlearned most of the technique as I did not practise it much. Now I’d need some help to remember how to even begin.

I remember and still believe its teachings though, having experienced their effect firsthand during the 10 day course.One of which is practising zero state of being.Detachment.Letting go of hatred, anger, fear, negativity – likewise, letting go of attachments, love, affection, positivity – because emotions and feelings – positive and negative are the causes of deepest sorrows. I have always believed that the deepest sorrow must be following the greatest experience of pleasure.Because it will be similar to hitting bottom after you’ve sprung to the greatest height. That to experience pleasures, one must make oneself vulnerable even to deepest sorrows.

As a being who wishes from time to time to experience it all, I tell myself that pleasure and pain would be part of life.But the losses experienced lead me to realise time and again that the cost of pleasure, planning, ambitions, ego etc would be measured in pain, sorrow, hatred…that I must submit, surrender to the greater force and try – not to get attached – to any thing – place – person – emotion – thought. Positively or negatively. Life is a zero sum game.Though it cannot be explained in a single lifetime. The Karma prevails…..

Gifting ideas anyone?

I want a Kaleidoscope!

 I was telling my friend M on Sunday, when I met her over coffee. She and I were discussing probable birthday gifts – for our upcoming birthdays. She wants an ‘unusual’ gift. I don’t know what unusual is supposed to be. Knowing her, I know she devours books, loves handbags, likes cotton garments, handmade artefacts  – any item with colours blue / violet/purple generally attracts her attention etc. Unusual for her would be anything apart from all these. That day, she bought nice jars for tea and coffee – She’s getting married soon and those jars are cute. She would have bought them for her mother probably even if she wasn’t getting married… but crockery etc is not my forte.There cannot be ‘unusual’ crockery…Jewellery, Music CDs etc would be very common place…I’m still thinking…

While I was still at it, I thought about this other friend, whose last day at work was last week, Friday. She wanted a jig-saw puzzle, a world map! Now that IS sort of unusual. We left work somewhat early,to look for it. Of course we didn’t find it, but ended buying some books and lots of stationery. It must be mentioned that I had never been to ‘Staples’ before and did not know that such a wonderland existed. I’m a stationery freak and was too happy to be in company of other 2 stationery freaks – who understood exactly,the joy I felt when I noticed scores of fresh reams of paper of various types, notebooks of amazing quality and covers, pens, clips, u-pins, binders, files, coasters, sketch pens, coloured pens, colours, hand-made gift wrapping papers, hand-made paper bags, various fancy sharpeners, erasers, notepads, calculators etc. My friends and I wished to undergo some time warp so that we could go back to school just to be able to use all these fancy items. The best thing about all this was the discovery that there existed some like-minded souls ready to go down the rabbit hole of stationery wonderland!! Though the store still did not stock Kaleidoscopes.

Everytime, I’ve gone to a stationery shop since last several years, I’ve kept looking for a Kaleidoscope. Probably toy shop is a better place to find it, and frankly speaking, God knows how many times I’ve tried it. The last time I went there was to buy a toy telescope for my nephew this May. I must have bought it in 10 mins flat and spent the rest of the 20 mins requesting shopkeeper to really search for a kaleidoscope if it is available…  it should be somewhere in the back of his store-room etc… No, it wasnt there. As a child I never owned a Kaleidoscope. I wanted it as a kid and wasnt given since it involved mirror glass etc. Growing up, I used to be fascinated by it – one of my cousins had it and whenever I used to visit their place, I’d sit for hours peeping into it… looking at those pretty patterns. I was never adult enough to admit that the childish fantasy within me had never left. I never admitted it even to myself for a long time. A school friend,N, who shares her birthday with me, actually bought a Barbie-Doll house with her first salary – that was her childhood wish, to own a doll house. We called her crazy – what was she going to do with it – what a waste of space in the space starved Mumbai….Though now whenever I am reminded of Kaleidoscope, I end up empathising with her.In a weird manner, time and again I am reminded that concepts of ‘childish’ and ‘mature’ are too relative and perhaps  temporal.

Anyways, so while I need to  look up for an unusual gift for my friend within a month, I expect her to do all the research over next 3 months and buy me a good Kaleidoscope 🙂

A rose by any other name…

Lily? Jasmine?? or Frangipani???

‘Sankashti!’

I vaguely heard someone saying that. I was seated in a CST bound train, reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ and fortunately the novel had finally arrived to an interesting part. ‘Sankashti’!!… the moment I heard this, I snapped up and looked at the woman saying it, wondering whether it was ‘Sankashti’ that day. To the uninitiated, this is one of the common fasts observed amongst the Maharashtrians.  It is observed every month on the 4th day of the waning fortnight and is observed to receive the blessings of Lord Ganesha. I started observing it from class 10 – since I believed it was necessary in order to score well. I didnt study as much and scored okay in class 10, but the practice of fasting has continued.While  I’m not a devout hindu,  I have faith in Lord Ganesha.(fasting has got nothing to do with being a devout hindu, but that is a topic for another post I suppose). I have continued to fast month after month, year after year hoping that one day the Lord will pity me and grant some sense. 🙂

Well, coming back to the story, I thought that it could be Sankashti and that I might have missed to fast. Mentally, I berated myself for not only not observing the fast, but actually eating a hearty breakfast that day, which I normally end up skipping. Then I realised that if it was Sankasthi that day, everyone in my family had missed it – we all of us fast on Sankashti. That was unusal, because my mother would never miss it! So I looked at the woman once more. She was still on the phone talking to someone. I concluded that she must have spoken about some past / upcoming Sankashti. I was just about to go back to my reading when I overheard, ‘Sankashti!’ and I turned to look at her once more. She was saying ‘Sankashti, what a brat you are, always getting into mischief’… and I was floored!

SANKASHTI was the name of the child this woman was talking to!!! It’s a Sanskrit word which I worked out would be sandhi of 2 words – ‘San+Kashta’ – ‘San’->>’Sam’ meaning together (in this context – ‘WITH’) and ‘Kashta’ meaning ‘Hardships’. A fast is obviously penance  and hence the meaning ‘with hardships’. Then I began pitying the child whose name was ‘Sankashti’. Maybe she was born after several troubled hours her mother spent in the labour room etc. But still ‘Sankashti’ was such a vindictiveness on her mother’s part, if there really was such a thought process behind the name. But then I thought there wouldn’t have been. Not many people care to dwell on the fact that most of the Indian names have sanskrit origin, much less their meaning. Lately, there has been some sort of trend of naming babies with some archaic Sanskrit words from scriptures. Internationally, if they can name kids randomly (Read: Brooklyn, Apple, Ireland etc) why cant we follow the madness? Of course its everyone’s choice to name (And call) their kids whatever they want. So infact, there could be some people complimenting Sankashti’s parents on such a cool choice of name.

Personally, I tend to associate an image with every person I know, and this has sometimes posed problems for me. The image is mostly influenced by the peson’s name. An Indian name mostly has a meaning – so if it is ‘Anjali’ – it is a specific hand posture using which one normally offers a gift to the God. Contrary to the popular opinion, it’s not an offering to the God . It literally means ‘palmful’ and usually you use this gesture to offer any gift to God etc. Now though I don’t picture a palm in my mind every time I come across an ‘Anjali’, I mostly have problem processing such names. And there are many I know who seem to have such visual names. If they(my friends) read this post, all I have to say is this : FORGIVE ME! YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS.

Well it’s not like I always picture the meaning first, but it stayed in the back of my mind that ‘Kinchit’ means ‘small in quantity’/’Little'(quantity) etc when I got introduced to one of my MBA classmates. I found it funny, but not many agreed, because it is apparently a common Gujarati name and my college was full of Guju bhais.  I remember one of our professors basing her whole session on some one liners like ‘Come on Kinchit, I’ll give you a clean chit if you answer this etc’… then there were numeous ‘Ketans’ (house), ‘Parthivs’ (made of mud) that I kept on running into. Then there’s fair share of abstract names too –  a ‘Vanchana’ (worry) that I know, ‘Rachana’ (Arrangement/ creation – it doesnt say good arrangement or bad). A guy’s name was ‘Apekshit’ – (expected) and his youger brother was ‘Akalpit’ (‘beyond imagination’ and sometimes can also be used as ‘Unplanned’) –  thereby making their parents’ family planning details totally public… 🙂 . One of my own nieces in the extended family is named ‘Sakshi’ (a witness)…. and the list goes on…

I believe that your name somehow becomes a part of you, your personality. So Akalpit may for all reasons grow into an unpredictable young man. But on the other hand, it wasnt Vanchana’s fault that she was given such a name. It necessarily does not mean that she has to live up to it. Fortunately, my parents did not name either myself or my brother in such a manner that our friends would have teased us. But I’d have surely felt resentful if I was called  ‘Akriti’ (diagram), Nupur (anklet – though a very pretty sounding name), Sulabha (‘easily available’), Anumati (consent), Apeksha (expectation), Pratiksha (the wait), Heena (Mehendi) etc

Once in October…

Pic taken from Nokia phone with 2 MP camera. So actual scenery was much better than what's been captured

 If anyone asked me whether I ever felt the presence of God, I’d say it was this moment!

Last October, one late afternoon, suddenly sky went dark, cool winds began to blow, trees began swaying. It started thundering. I love the smell of wet soil…and green grass. So when
first few drops of rain fell, i just HAD to go for a jog. I did too. I live close to a creek, where there are marshes and tall grass and I thought of going there. Thursday afternoon,and it was pretty deserted. Weather really went wild with heavy downpour, lightning , the wind was blowing, making eerie noise and grass swaying. It got darker and darker…Somehow, I felt it was all beautiful and divine! The forces of nature, untamed and pure. I was jogging along, totally drenched and exhilarated. Soon the sun came out and a rainbow popped up. I took this picture then. It always reminds me the extreme joy i felt when i was alone and with nature…

Those Good Old Days – Videogames

I came across this post on ‘freshly pressed’ about the old video games which promptly reminded me of hours and hours that I’d spent with my brother in front of TV getting insanely competitive about scores, during many summer vacations, while in school. I guess, playing video games is kind of ‘occupational hazard’ for every girl who has a brother, and since we grew up in the eighties and nineties, our introduction to gaming happened through those early gaming consoles (what do you call them??) of companies like Sega which needed to be connected to TV. Of course when we graduated to computer games, the kind of games that we played changed to NFS, Quake, SIM City etc – but then somehow, I lost my interest in the gaming. It suddenly wasn’t fun any more, maybe,because the games weren’t silly concepts of a joker trying to cross hurdles in a circus or a Pacman eating away those dot or bricks falling randomly. It got more serious, violent, more tech-savy etc. Music wasnt simple and melodious anymore, it was all rock and heavy metal!

Modern form of gaming is all hi-tech and I don’t think I’d even understand anything of it. Yeah, the latest gaming buzz for the non-gamers would of course be games like Mafia Wars and Farmville, but those never enticed me. Nevertheless that post reminded me of my good times with gaming, just like ‘bhoole bisre geet’, this is my own list of games – I found them online as well, now in flash format. This order is totally random.

  • Super Mario Bros
  • Contra
  • Circus
  • Tetris II
  • Karateka
  • Tennis
  • Kung Fu
  • Pac-Man
  • Elevator Action
  • Sonic
  • Duck Tales
  • Little Mermaid
  • Donkey Kong
  • Milk and Nuts
  • Popeye
  • Dr Mario
  • Bomber Man
  • Burger Time
  • Galaxian

Mangoes and other Konkani Fare

We bought this season’s first batch of Mangoes today! Its already mid May and only a person hailing from Konkan would probably understand the lamentful undertone of this statement. Infact, not just a Konkani, any other person who has tasted our most valued contribution to the gastronomic (and ecological) world –  Alphonso Mangoes would find this situation pitiable.

The mango season begins from late March onwards and ends by Mid-June. March is too early to buy since the first lot is always very costly. Usually prices correct by mid-April and the quality and quantity of the fruit too improves over this period. By the beginning of June, Mangoes get cheaper, but the quality too deteriorates. When I was growing up, we’d buy chests and chests of mangoes during summer vacation. My cousins would usually visit us during the period and then we’d have this daily mango-time in the morning. I remember my grandmother rationing mangoes in order to ensure that we didnt overeat (which caused heat-boils). She’d also make sure, we each had a glass of milk after we ate mango every morning. The mangoes then would be large in size and have red-pink-orange tint and smell heavenly. They became more and more popular over the years, and nowadays, such fruit as I described is only of export quality (hence not available for us sinful locals). Nevertheless, prices of ordinary alphonso mangoes too have sky-rocketed. At one point I remember my mother bargaining for a chest of mangoes (containing ~ 50 mangoes) for Rs. 350. Today we bought a mere dozen of mangoes for more than Rs. 1000. Gone are the days of chests after chests of mangoes which would be consumed as fruit, pulp, jam, milkshake, ice-cream over the period of summer vacation. Neither do we have that many mangoes in the market (they get exported) nor do we have lot of money to buy..

A trip to the mango vendor is not for the limited purpose of buying mangos, but also to purchase the entire year’s stock of, other goodies from Konkan. Some of these items are available locally throughout the year, but the taste, the flavour, the aroma never reaches to the authentic Konkan level. Again, I suppose this is something which not many people (except those from Konkan of course) will get. The mango vendors are usually some plantation owners from Konkan who set up temporary stalls during the mango season. So all that they sell is fresh and original ‘made in Konkan’ stuff. If I sing songs of Kuleeth Peeth (flour) – to a larger part of the world including North India that would sound odd since it is actually a cattle feed – but in Konkan, we use the Kuleeth flour to make Kuleeth Pithla (which is a heavenly concoction of only Kuleeth flour, chillies, oil, garlic and Kokam skin, can be made in less than 10 minutes, has creamy consistency and must be eaten with cooked rice), Pickles/amboshis (of innumerable varieties), other seasoning food such as mirgunda, chikawadya, papads, metkut (kind of powder made of rice and some lentils and spices and tastes amazing when mixed with curd/ghee/or even plain), goda masala, amsul (dried Kokam skin), Kokam agal (extract of Kokam fruit which is used to make our famed Sol kadhi – which is a made with mere coconut milk, Kokam agal, cummin seeds, chillies, coriander and a pinch of sugar and tastes amazing). Then you have Amba/Fanas poli (sun-dried pulps of Mango and Jackfruit), Kaju gar (Cashews) and cashew fruit jam / jelly, supari (Areca nut), numerous sharbet mixes (mango, gooseberry, kokam) etc. With my limited knowledge of my community, I am aware of only these popular items sold here in Mumbai. Given the vast cultural diversity within Konkan region itself, I wonder how much I might be missing out on….though I hope to discover most of it someday…

Looking Up

I LOVE this picture. This angle wasn’t a random experiment and when I took this picture, this is EXACTLY how I wanted it to look. I have added watermark for the first time. It might be too presumptuous, but I’d not want this image used freely.It also reminds me of my last long vacation – how I had enjoyed it!

Looking up

‘Animosity’

Not Cute?

To tell the truth – I’m not that much into animals.

Ok. That was not entirely true. I’m NOT AT ALL into animals…or birds or insects…(or reptiles or fish or amphibians and all the other categories that I can’t remember)….

Yes, I’m all for wildlife preservation and I’m totally against cruelty to the animals, but the maximum that I can contribute to this cause is by sending money to PETA, WWF etc.  Besides, apart from sporadic spraying of mosquito repellent, thrashing of a stray cockroach and setting up an occasional mousetrap, I’m ‘mostly harmless’ towards other living beings of non-human variety (not that I’m other than mostly harmless towards beings of human variety – thought it was better to clarify).

As a policy, I avoid purchasing anything made out of leather, fur etc. Additionally, being a vegetarian, how much do I have to lose in supporting campaigns against meat?? – ‘none at all’ . That’s pretty much it. Sometimes though, I find it strange that I have such an apathy towards animals, while I flaunt my love for the nature all the time. But its true. One cannot be always appreciative of ‘life, the universe and everything’. I cannot make myself love the animals. To me, animals looks great / majestic/delicate (insert whatever adjective) only from a distance – like when they are in forests / oceans / muck / tree – whatever is their natural habitat. Nevertheless, by some ‘strange coincidence’ (Yeah, I’m a fan of the Hitchhiker’s guide  in case it was not apparent) I have been thrust into the company of animal lovers and pet-keepers all the time since my childhood. Does it indicate my destiny / karma etc to take up a pet or something? Nah, I don’t think so.

Growing up, I had to cope with those periodic visits to my various aunts’ place whose houses had members of quadrupedal variety (and sometimes non-pedal variety, otherwise known as ‘Fish’). There were birds even, at some point. Not that I was particularly afraid of these animals. What I always found tedious was to pay compliments. I mean… these animals came and licked you and you were supposed to find that cute. Or they just landed on your lap and purred and then left like a huge hairball on your new clothes and you were supposed to talk about how these beings ‘exude’ love while trying not to sneeze!!! …..or when some of these beings chittered and chattered suddenly for some reason exactly when you were trying to nap, you woke up and excitedly proclaimed (instead of shouting with annoyance) that they were trying to predict some natural calamity or something!!!  There were times when you hid into a corner and ate something for the fear that it will be pounced upon and snatched away….

So far so good.. a pup wags its tail and looks with those puppy eyes, a cat purrs and all, so there’s definitely something to talk about there. Birds usually would be love-birds and would have various colours so  despite the nuisance value of each of these there would be things to talk about. But I would be stumped the moment I’d move on to the fish…(those beings which couldn’t even hear the names that my cousins had kept for them and those that made the fish-tank and the surrounding area utterly stinky). For sure, some had nice colours, but I could never go beyond  ‘ I think this fish is trying to kill this other fish’…(which was all the action that was happening in that fish-tank). I thank my stars that they never ventured to keep some pet tortoise or even lizards or something!! What would I have said then? my head hurts  from the lack of imagination!

All I noticed over all these years was the lengths that the owners were required to go, to feed, clean and train these animals and yet remain friendly with people like the next door neighbours, people within the locality, the mail-man and sundry delivery men etc. I wonder at the enthusiasm of my cousins who have survived several such pets of various variety and their generations…

Having seen much of the pet (keeping and maintaining) world I  eventually (that wasnt really a gradual process) decided to maintain minimum contact with these beings concluding that I don’t understand them. Surprisingly, most of the friends that I made in my adult life were animal lovers. So I am from time to time subject to the discussions about the antics of their pets, where I have to laugh, nod and indicate that I am listening!!

Of course it’s not exactly like I’m totally away from animals… they have made a place for themselves in my life in their own way…

…like those pigeons that are currently in their nth generations on the loft above my house and occasionally set up a makeshift nursing home in my window-grill, enter the house just to perch on a fan-blade and then fly helter and skelter within house when chased, instead of returning the way they came ( through the wide window in the room!!).. I was once told by my brother that pigeons are actually related to dodo birds – which I have come to believe

…that stray bitch which has made the passage on the first floor of my building as her permanent home and is always positioned outside this out-of-town neighbor’s door. Doesnt wag tail or anything when I pass by, but lets me (and other residents) pass by quietly and barks at any newcomer. 🙂

…or the Myna (a.k.a. Salunki in Marathi) which has set up its neat nest outside of the bathroom window and sometimes acts as vocal accompaniment to any random bathroom singer from our house 🙂

….or a hitherto unidentified bird of spring that has been amusing itself by repeatedly pecking on the wind-shield of this car which we can always see through our drawing-room window,every morning around 8.30 – 9.00!! – cannot understand. Why? why only at specific time? Why only that car when there are numerous others parked next to it?  Is it trying to break in? long way to go pal… or maybe its trying to check itself in glass-made mirror or it sees itself in this mirror and thinks there is another of its kind…or its eating some insects stuck there …where exactly? on the glass?? maybe there are invisible bacteria like insects there..

….A crow that regularly visits us every 10 – 15 days. Whenever this happens, my mother mentions the death anniversary (what is it called in English though? we call it Punyatithi in Marathi/Hindi) of some close relative which is coincidentally approaching etc and believes that the ‘Kauva’ wants to remind us of it – and then offers some food and water.

I think I already have my hands full with these pseudo pets. So if someone wants to question my animal-love or lack thereof, I can definitely point out these pseudo-pets and claim that there’s no ‘animosity’ between the animals and myself. 🙂