Sunday, May 27, 2007

A New Cat On The Scene

Vishnu and Peg have won the race to get a new cat. Here is a pic of Mia and some news about her from Vishnu:

We brought home the 1-year old cat that we saw at the vet last week. They kept her for a few days to have her spayed and a night extra for her to recover partially. She has been home for two days now and is gradually exploring the house a little more each day. Peggy's original
thought was to name her Jeannie and subsequently I came up with the name Mia which Peggy liked because the cat miaows and is moderately vocal. She doesn't have conversations with us like Lucy, but gives a little trill when she feels a little insecure or wants some attention. Also, when she sees something unfamiliar, she gives a very brief soft growl, as she did when she saw the bath tub for the first time.

I am sending you three photos of her that I took this afternoon when we were all sitting on the patio, just before grilling some sirloin steaks. Mia is quite affectionate and gregarious but doesn't like to be carried like Lucy did. She likes to sit with us on the sofa or on the coffee
table and trots after one of us whenever we go from one end of the house to the other. Sometimes she runs in front and gets in the way so we have to be careful not to trip on her or step on her.

One of the photos shows her sitting on the leather Eckornes recliner, to which she has taken a liking. She will probably fight with Mummy as to who gets to sit on that chair. In fact, she wanted to get on when I was sitting on it and looked at me like Mishi used to look at you when you were using one of her chairs.

She is like a cross between Lucy and Mishi. She has the same colors that Muthu did has and a rather narrow face. Peggy calls her monkey-face sometimes. She can be greedy and usually tries to lead us to the laundry room where her bowl is kept. There's just one unpleasant habit she has. She sometimes farts, rather stinky ones and pretends she doesn't know anything about it. She did it several times the first evening we had her, less on the second day and
less today.With luck, it will taper off. It could have been due to her being on anaesthesia and being constipated for a couple of days.

Well I'm hoping to get a new cat here in Bombay too, but since I am leaving for Europe in August and will be away for about 6 weeks, I think I will wait till I get back home in September before I go hunting for a kitten.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Marve Retreat

Our retreat at the beach shack in Marve, with Pankaj and gang generally went off well but Jesus! How noisy the place has become! We deliberately chose to avoid the weekend and to go there during the week and yet we were bombarded by motor bikes racing up and down and disco beats blasting the air from passing car stereos. The worst was being woken up at one thirty in the night by a string of firecrackers that went on for over ten minutes and these included several ear splitting "atom bombs". It felt as if the craziness of the world was all concentrated along the strip of beach outside our house and I am wondering if it isn't time to say goodbye to this great place which has been home to us for so many years. To add to all this we ran out of water by the second morning - the municipal supply just didn't get to us. So the "boys" patiently stood and filled bucket fulls of water into the tank from where it is piped up to the bathrooms, from a storage bin next to it. But generally we had a good time so I'm not complaining.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Off With His Head!

A couple of days back our cook A entered my room in a flap. "Something to tell you," she said, "But let me finish my work and then I can talk." Before I could die of curiosity she settled down on the couch and started pouring out this dramatic real life story, of what had happened to her the previous day as she was getting back home from work at about nine in the evening. She had just crossed the maidan over onto the road leading past her house when she saw a fellow slowly cycling along. Behind him, unknown to him was a guy trotting after him with a chopper. Before anyone knew it the guy with the chopper had knocked off the head of the cyclist and run off and as A said, her hands and legs "liquefied".

What shocked her the most was the fact that she knew who the killer was, it was a young man who lived in a nearby building, whose father was respectably employed as a driver or something. Whooo! Anyway A had her wits about her because before anyone could spot her, she dodged into her building and once back in her room, collapsed onto the bed. "If I had "bud payshur" she said, "I would have had a stroke by now or I'd be dead." We figured out that both guys must be members of rival gangs, that too gangs related to some big time mafia dons about whom one is always reading in the press. (Later on I learned that the boy with the chopper was arrested by the police).

At times like this I see how far apart our lives are, A's and mine, although we don't live all that far away from each other. Violence seems to be built into the environment of working class people. The other day during our fortnightly get together T also spoke about how volatile the atmosphere in slums and chawls is. The least provocation can set off a really bad reaction. Must be quite a task to maintain any degree of sanity in those surroundings so when I do see people succeed at it, it awes me.

Friday, May 11, 2007

May Meltdown

May is the month in Bombay when you shower after breakfast and before you've thrown on any clothes, want to head straight back for bed. Each moment, each step, each word practically, costs you tons of ENERGY. Sometimes I just stand around doing nothing and am fascinated at the way my face, neck and other parts of me start to drip. A whole month or more to go before the monsoon sets in. Sigh.


Are Indian politicians growing up by any chance? Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's remarks in the Lok Sabha about the influx of immigrants from U.P. and Bihar into the city sparked off quite a reaction among members of the RJD, BJP and Samajwadi parties. But whereas in the old days they would have been pelting her with tomatoes, rotten eggs and chappals, this time, members angered by her statement just "protested". Of course their protests effectively stopped the house from carrying on with any work until Sheila Madam apologised. Laloo, not known particularly for his sense of maturity, took everyone by surprise by saying that although she was wrong, it was time to leave the incident behind and move on.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Another Great Cat Says Goodbye

Barely a week after our cat Mishi left us (in Bombay) Vishnu and Peg's (my brother and sister-in-law's) cat (Champaign, Ill.) took her leave as well, at the age of about eighteen. Here is an excerpt about Lucy, from Vishnu's email this morning:

I know how sad you and Mummy must be at not having Mishi around any more. We also feel that way about Lucy. Peggy said that most cats are cats people like in spite of their personalties. With Lucy, there was no “in spite”. She was sociable and affectionate and introduced herself to people who visited her except very small children since they tended to chase her away. She spent a good amount of time following us around from room to room and often sat on the tables next to our PCs when we used them.

She was quite a hunter in her prime, and we remember 3-chipmunk days and 3-rabbit days in
Bloomington. Once she jumped up into the air and caught a bird with both of her front paws while she was about 2 feet off the ground. She also chased Wim and Margaret’s cat, Melody, around their house which embarrassed us, especially when we were talking with Wim and Margaret right in front of their house.

The funniest incident I remember was when she left half a mouse for me on the patio doormat in Bloomington. She had eaten the top half which must have been the tastiest and left the rest for me. I tossed it over the fence and she brought it back within minutes and put it right back on the doormat. Each time, I tossed it father away, and each time she retrieved it and looked at me as if to say, “Now don’t do that! I brought it for you!”.

This brings back shades of Mishi too, who used to be quite a hunter in her heyday. Not to mention a number of other cats who have lived with us in the past forty years, each of whom we remember with amusement and some amount of horror (the gruesome offerings we've been made!!) but never without affection . Cats - oh well. I don't know about you but for all their quirks I do find it difficult to live without them.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Adios Mishi

Born some time in December 1987
Left for the happy hunting grounds April 30th 2007


As great and eccentric a cat as the rest who have graced us with their presence.
Had a horrendously loud and raucous mew and often vented her feelings during our evening meditations.
Loved being hit all over by a fly swatter. Especially after dinner.
Mad about pizza - any kind.
On the nights that she decided to sleep on my bed she drove visitors out of my room by 10 PM by screeching at them to GET OUT.
We'll miss this crazy cat.