Amelia

You lived for 31 days. My dearest tiny pup, you were a fighter. I still remember when you were struggling to get out. Your mama, Emma Poppy Seeds, had pushed out three of your siblings and was feeling the strain. She didn’t have enough strength to push you out. You were an eager beaver, wanting to come out. I remember, after noticing your sac come out and retreat back in a couple of times, I decided to pull you out. And in doing so, I broke the sac that was protecting you. I got a grip of your hind leg and couldn’t let go. After the most dreadful minutes of my life, you managed to get out. You were so tiny. I will always wonder if I did wrong by pulling you out (although all literature I had read suggest pulling the pup is a good idea, because a tired dog may not be able to exert enough push).

In some ways, I thought of you as my baby. You were my favorite, you weren’t the healthiest, but you were mine. I really felt good each day that you were alive. Because somewhere deep down I knew it was a miracle you were breathing, growing alongside your stronger siblings. I do love them too, but you were my favorite.

I would like to believe that you did not suffer beyond 12 hours. Last night, when you cried out in my arms, I wish I knew better to rush you to the vet. I knew you were uncomfortable, I didn’t know you were inching closer to light.

My precious little one, I am really devastated about losing you so soon. I had secretly wished to keep you when time came to give you all for adoption. You know, I am not so sure I want to give any of you away. I love you all.

And even though you are just outside, sleeping in the garden, know this that you will always be thought of fondly.

I do feel guilty for you not being alive. Could I have gone sooner to the vet? Yes. Should I have worried more that you did not put on weight even after the visit to the vet? Yes. Was I lazy in taking care of you? Yes. Can I get you back? No.

I am told that you wouldn’t have made it anyway because you were the weakest. But, I really hoped you would. In fact, I never doubted it. I knew you were a fiery fighter. And you were a brave little one.

Thank you for cuddling with me last night. Sorry for not understanding what your constant whimpering meant. Sorry for waiting at the vet’s instead of getting you help sooner. I mean we were there and kept waiting for the doctors to settle. I wish I had not waited, you would still be alive and kicking and making those tiny noises.

Dear Amelia. Your siblings missed you today, they weren’t as playful, they knew something was off. Your mama was restless and she sure knew you were gone. She kept checking for you. And her pup count didn’t add up because she knew you were missing.

We all miss you, darling. And now when I look at all your brothers and sisters, I miss you even more. You aren’t curled up in the center. They aren’t disturbing you.

Amelia, sweetheart, rest well. And I hope in doggie heaven you find a nice spot to watch over us.

You will always be my little precious one.

#RIP Amelia (Feb 13th, 2016-Mar 16th, 2016)

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(Amelia, the tiniest one, in the center. This was taken at her first vet visit on March 5th, 2016. Today, was her last visit to the vet :/)

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rail gaadi – of sights, smells & sounds at a station

Long platforms, a phantom-ness about them, coolies lazing or hurdled together smoking beedis and chatting over a game of cards and chai before the next train chugged in. Parcels packed in sack material, black ink losing meaning, if you stared too long at the printed material. Summer. Delhi. Flies. Stench that’s very much part of all railway stations. Boards, with redundant peeled out charts, awaiting another chart to cover them up, listlessly flapped in the occasional breeze. Anxious travelers. Families – the overexcited children, the pacifying mothers, the subdued grandparents, the engrossed in discussion fathers, the conscious teenagers; then there’s the solo traveler lugging the huge backpack that’s often bigger than her; the couple – entwined arms, whispering sweet nothings; the daily commuter blank, who occasionally lets the irritation of the day show on his face; the connected hyper traveler – earphones blaring music shutting out the outside world, the busy thumb responding to messages, searching and responding to mails on the go.

Then there’s the platform worker – the bookstalls, the lunch rooms, the knick-knack seller, the sweet and snack seller. They aren’t going anywhere, the static crowd. Their tempos waning and waxing as the trains roll in and out of the station. The high pitched chai-koffee seller who rushes in approaching coaches as the trains saunters in to a halt.

The aluminum kettles, the water washed glasses stacked neatly in the blackened glass holder, the waft of the over-boiled tea greetings exhausted, tired travellers, who stretch, hopping out to stand on terra firma after hours swaying in the train. To taste the hot snacks that look more tempting than the usual on-board fare. After all, train travels are about food, chats and some more food – because after a while the beautiful scenery loses its charm – it’s as if it’s on a loop – trees, fields, rivers, bridges, and repeat. The sights and sounds held within stations offer a respite from the constant movement – a stationery oasis of sorts.

And the best stops are the unplanned ones. Especially when a train needs to pass before yours’ and you are stopped at an obscure small station that isn’t prepared for your arrival. It’s vacant, with barely any activity, there’s no one vying for your attention – not even a chai-walla, clanking the empty glasses to tempt you for another cuppa. Even the dogs lazy, ignoring you. You rush to fill water or just wash your face with water that isn’t lukewarm. To take pictures of rotting, rusting benches or faded name boards.

p.s: today the rail budget was announced and as I retweeted some of the pointers, I kept thinking about all the train travels I’ve taken. I wanted to write something, share a personal account (it was a really miserable attempt) but then, I took a fresh new blank page and started typing. Above is the result of an hour (!, rusty much!) of typing (okay, it may have taken long as I kept getting distracted browsing randomly).

p.p.s: I quite liked the rail budget, and even if the Sensex fell 200 odd points, it didn’t matter. If they achieve even one-fourth of what they announced I’d be happy. Yes, I do not have too much faith in the government.

My teacher: brafy breath, & wagging-tailed

Emma my Indie pup is all of six months. She’s like a breath of fresh air in my life (although her smelly mouth can wilt a plant!). As I type, she’s snuggled on my left. I have about ten minutes before she wakes up from her nap and starts jumping around again. Or better still, attack my fingers pretending them to be her ‘chewy toy’.

Ever since she’s come home and accepted us as her family, I’ve spent hours reading up on pet care, the do’s and don’ts, what to feed her, how to train her and the list is endless. It’s exhausting. But in a fun way. My mornings are grump-free. In fact the family endures my sing-song “Gooooooooood Moooooooorrrning”.

At 33, I’m turning out to be a morning person. Okay, let me not take credit for that, because frankly, it’s not like I have a choice. Emma is an early riser, and its almost criminal, I mean how wakes up at 4 in the blessed morning!? In some sense it is good – I tend to get more done waking that early. In fact, I feel, for once that there is time to do everything and then some more.

Em, as I love to call her, is teaching me patience. She is teaching me how NOT to let anger reign in and take hold of me, she is teaching me the true meaning of love. She’s always happy to see me, she’s always playful and she even let’s me tug in her bed! And I am grateful that she came into my life at this time.

Now, to tackle that barfy breath, I’m flavouring her meals with fresh mint and coriander 🙂

Emma

Emma – caught napping post lunch

Reclaiming slowly

2014 was a disastrous year, to put it lightly. And that’s all I’d say. This isn’t the place for the what, why, how of the year gone. It’s about deciding that 2015 will be better and documenting it in its entire splendor (and not forgetting to pen down those bare minimum 200 words or so).

In some sense it is also about getting back to writing about things that matter. Travel tales. Kitchen notes. Being a human under training (yes, I’m adopted by an Indie pup). My attempts at composting. The fickleness of the mind that wants to job hop in an attempt to try everything at least once. To learn and unlearn. To all this and a lot more. I’m trying really hard not to glance at the right hand corner and fret because, that’s where the word count-er is!

Anyhow, for now, I guess this declaration should do, more for myself than anyone else.

Dear 2014,

Your lessons won’t be lost on me, EVER.

Dear 2015.

You look good for now, January was packed with travel, February is being spent on fixing that knee and recovering, March I have plans for you and well the rest of the year. But, let’s take it one day at a time.

Note to self: write daily for the next 365 days. Happy writing (or typing)!

Why we walk the pride?

This was my first pride, if I were to discount the previous two where I participated as an observer. Sitting at the steps of Town Hall, Bangalore where the pride culminates, I was always there as an outsider, taking notes, vying for quotes from the ‘who’s who’ from with the community.

This pride was different. I actually walked the pride. And I felt part of the community. I am proud to be part of the community. I’m the A (if you really need to know) in the LGBTIQA, yes the last or latest edition to the acronym. And that A can mean different things to different people – it stands for Asexual, Ally or Advocate. And it is anyone’s guess which of the three I belong to. On Sunday, I was part of the march.

Walked along complete strangers and exchanged hellos that didn’t seem forced, chatted with them, complimented some for their dress or their shoes or their banners. Mostly, walking the pride for me meant claiming the city space as mine. Interestingly, it is the safest place to be. You could be as skimpily dressed and yet feel safe. My kid sister, who walked along side, made that observation. “It’s the safest I have felt in years” and to think that this comes from an 18-year-old.

In fact, the only reason I feel the need to jot down my feelings is the tragic news of the 21-year-old who committed suicide that very night after walking the pride.

The pride may be about loudness, garish over-the-top dressing or the dancing with a ‘devil-may-care-attitude’. But, that’s just one aspect of the pride. There are other reasons why prides are walked every year. Here are reasons to walk:

1. Increase visibility:

It is a community we cannot ignore anymore. We are there, we exist, we are your friends, your family or distant relative, your co-worker, your neighbour. And you need to know that we cannot hide our gender anymore. We are there to let you know that we are part of the normal you keep throwing around. We are part of that social fabric, that society you claim we fear. We are an integral part. And that’s why it is important for us to claim our space in the society, just so you know that we are not a phantom.

2. Inclusivity:

Prides are about being unbiased, about non-discrimination at every level. We want a society that does not discriminate on the basis of anything – therefore, we welcome all to walk with us. The premise being simple – we want a social order that does not discriminate on – gender, class, religion, sex, caste, creed and/or profession. So, we will walk alongside the sex-workers who have an equal right to existence as any of us. (The latter is in response to an ignorant gay man, who felt that it was wrong for a pride march to begin from a red-light area – case in point – the Pune Pride March (also on Nov 24) that started and ended in Budhwar Peth, an old part of town and with a high population of sex-workers.) We DO NOT discriminate and hope, that the society will be that accepting and accommodating of its people. Yet, the first step is to internalise that change. Stop the discrimination that you may carry forward. And believe me, those that claim to be the most educated often err. It is tragic. I’d like to not make such sweeping generalisations, but such people exist and that is the tragedy of our society.

3. Claim the city:

From an urban planner perspective, look at your city, any city. It is becoming more and more demarcated and off-limits. You can’t sit in parks or take a nap or meet your loved one, you cannot just sit and be. Public spaces are disappearing faster than we realise and the irony is we aren’t even questioning the disappearance. We prefer to hang out at coffee shops or eating joints or pubs, never realising that “hanging out” shouldn’t always mean spending money. Therefore, an event like the pride march is of that much greater significance. You and I can claim the city as ours even if it only means for a couple of hours. The meandering serpentine line of people that trace the route (pre-approved by police!) signifies that you can walk the roads (there is definitely safety in numbers – lesser hit-and-run cases, police protection, et al). Imagine then, walking even when the skies open up. Forgetting for that moment what will become of those fancy chappals you picked up at the branded store, or the expensive designer dress. It all soaks just as your soul. Enjoying the moment in the rain – carefree, unabashed, dancing, and shouting and simply indulging, in a beautiful weather.

This pride, I witnessed, and participated in all this. We claimed the city as our own. The more we get out on the streets, the more connected we will be to it. We will begin to notice and question the system’s bad planning, we may even take notice of our dangerous it could be for an individual to cross the street. Then we will wake up to question the powers that be, to fix it, to make this city a place that can be walked easily.

That is the hope I have that we will claim our cities in a manner where walking is not a once-a-year activity but something we opt for, because it is beautiful to walk. Each street has a story, we just need to hear it, and we can’t do that sitting in our closed AC vehicles.

4. Talk to strangers:

I spoke to a handful and if the shy me can, anyone can. No I am not your average extrovert, I take time to even chat with colleagues in a new office, so really, when I say I could do it, you need to realise that the pride wasn’t about who-knew-who, it was this larger than life caravan that welcomed anyone who’d care to walk the distance, however shorter the distance be.  When was the last time you started a conversation with a complete stranger? A conversation that didn’t need to go anywhere, it was just a simple exchange of hellos with really heartfelt smiles, a quick question about where that pretty pink dress was bought! Yes, a simple chat. Prides open that space for short chats, long chats and conversations that start friendships and more.

Imagine in an age where we have over 100 virtual friends and/or followers on social network sites and spend our days without chatting – a face-to-face interactions beats everything. And the pride march presents that opportunity to connect with individuals where a glance, binds you not technology.

And I could keep going, but four is a good number to stop at. I felt the need to write this because this being my first actual pride that I walked, it was also my third time being there amidst a completely different set of people, many I still don’t know, but it was a safe space, I was accepted no-questions asked. Someday our society will be such a place. Someday a youngster wouldn’t be driven to take his own life, just because he didn’t fit the ‘normal’ mould. Someday that change will happen. Until then, we shall walk – with pride. 

The first step …

… Is to clear the virtual cob webs from this space.

There has been a long silence. There was too much to talk about, yet, I didn’t feel the need to document. Guess, at a personal level there were way too many doubts.

They remain. Take new forms.

But, I am ready for that to co-exist with my writing.

Yes, I want to write and most importantly, I need to write.

Beginning afresh.

Censo(er)r?

What can I say? Four Five days. It’s been five days and some more that the censor board has managed to create NEWS.

Almost all news items on this issue have this para.

“Most notable of all is the board’s instruction to do away with a reference to Tibetan freedom from Chinese dominion. Apparently, Imtiaz Ali has been asked to do away with a flag in the film that reads ‘Free Tibet’.”

I took it from here – http://ibnlive.in.com/news/censor-board-gets-tough-with-ranbirs-rockstar/199592-8-66.html

The first time I saw this song on TV, I was geniunely pleased, because as much as we know that Tibet is wrongly being claimed by China as its own, here for the 1st time in popular cinema I saw a Tibetan flag sway to the punjabi beats of ‘Saddah Haq’ [Our right]. Very apt, I thought.

But, then suddenly the online space was abuzz with how the censor board wants the flags either blurred or completely omitted and I wondered if the board was on a tangent. More increasingly there has been a clamp down of sorts on opinions. We are increasingly becoming a society that is not tolerant to an alternate opinion or any opinion – the approach is often – my way or the highway.

Just as in this case, sure it is a politically sensitive issue. But, films are a creative outlet – even mainstream films are. Allow the film its creative space, allow for the content to seep in to the minds of the masses because awareness and knowledge isn’t just in the books. But, could it be that the Board fears the very thing? That the vibrant yellow-blue-red colours of the flag will pique our interest, is a given. And it is about time we know about our neighbours.

I don’t know how much the story is about Tibet and we will only find out once we watch the film why the flag came into being. But, did the Censor not notice that during the song – while the flag sways there is also a frame with the Kashmiris and the same music charges in “Sadda Haq aitte rakh”. Now, did the censor not notice that frame? Because I do know there is a strong sentiment among certain Kashmir residents who want a “Free Kashmir”. Would that be clamped out as “Kashmiri freedom from Indian dominion”? I wonder. But maybe that wasn’t so evident because they were just standing in a bunch, no flag about them.

As an aside:

I remember when I showed my support to Tibet and its freedom a friend said cheekily: “Well, in that case you should support the Kashmiris as they want independence from India.”

It was then I started thinking about it more. While we have a strong history that talks about Tibetan independent existance, I haven’t read much about Kashmir – it is part of India and I truly believe that, but is there more to it? May be.

Getting back on track, it is amusing because if you listen carefully to the song it points at the system and its folly –

Kyun sach ka sabak sikhaye
Jab sach sun bhi na paye
Sach koi bole toh tu
Niyam kanoon bataye

(Don’t the lyrics say it all?)

Ironic, isn’t it? But, should we just allow the Censor to dictate its political stance? I don’t think so. Not unless, it can come up with something that is more concrete. “Chinese dominion of Tibet” is a political viewpoint, what is the Censor Board’s creative viewpoint to this, I want to know. And isn’t it violating the film-maker’s right to expression?

Now, tell me what you think. And if you feel that the flag must stay in the film then sign in the online petition –

http://www.change.org/petitions/remove-censor-on-tibetan-flags-from-rockstar