Birthday gifts cartooned!

Today was my birthday. I stopped celebrating my birthday many years ago. My family and friends however insist on my contacting me one way or the other to greet me and to wish me for many happy returns. One day in a year, I enjoy that attention but still will not consent to a celebration of any kind.

The day started off with a phone call all the way from the USA from a delightful friend of 18 years who has not forgotten my birthday even once in all these years that I have known him. He chatted with me for a long time on a number of things including this blog.

My son Ranjan wanted to find out what I would like for a gift and since I did not have anything that I wanted, simply stuck a wad of currency notes into my hand and insisted that I should indulge myself!

After that, it was a series of calls and email messages. I had to go to my weekly Vedanta class and on my return, found a surprise birthday gift from a relatively new and young friend. This is again something that has not happened to me in a long time as everyone in my circle of family and friends knows that I do not celebrate and so do not send or give any gifts. This too was a welcome development for its sheer unexpectedness. When I thanked her for the gift, my friend further made my day for me by conveying to me that she found her association with me to be very fruitful and that she has benefited from it. What better morale booster can one ask for?

In the evening during our usual visit to the joggers’ park, all my friends greeted me, and people who did not know about it earlier also chipped in to the extent that it became almost embarrassing.

After such an interesting day, in retrospect, I still believe that the best thing that happened to me during the day was, this morning’s Times of India, which had a very topical cartoon by Jug Suraiya & Ajit Nainan. I am unable to download it for showing it to all of you, as I suspect that TOI does not publish cartoons in their web edition!

It shows a lady celebrating her birthday and her husband handing over a couple of bags with a satisfied smirk on his face. The lady’s expression is simply joyful with her eyes popping out and the text reads – “A litre of petrol and a kilo of atta? Wow – they are the best birthday presents I’ve got!”

Dogs as pets

This morning’s Times of India, under its regular column, “Last Word” quoted “ I dislike referring to them as dogs or my pets. This is because they are a part of me, my family and they share my every joy and sorrow. They understand me completely and there is such a big bond, such a rapport that I share with them that it moves me beyond words. Salman Khan on his two pet dogs, Myson and Myjaan, on his blog.”

Just two days ago a friend of mine came over to have lunch with us and to spend some time with us. We had not met for some time and I enquired about his son and daughter in law who were in Mumbai. He brought me up to date and told me that they have moved back to Pune with both of them getting good jobs here. He further told me that he was rather stumped with their life style as they have taken a very big loan and bought a three-bed room flat. On my expressing amazement, he continued that they now had two dogs and a dog handler who was needed to look after the dogs and so the two extra rooms were for the dogs and the handler. His daughter in law has grown up with dogs as pets in her maternal home, and she simply cannot be without dogs in her home!

We have four mongrels living in our housing society. They have adopted us and nothing that we do gets rid of them. Quite how they survive is anyone’s guess. They do not harm any body and bark at everything and any body strange coming into the society’s compound. Some Good Samaritan had taken them to the blue cross and got them neutered and I am told that this is a humane way of treating stray dogs. My query as to how they could be humanely made to shut up in the nights when they seem to take delight in non-stop barking for hours together, in concert with other stray dogs, is yet to be answered by the do gooding animal lovers.

I wonder if either Salman Khan or my friend’s daughter in law, can come up with some solution. I certainly intend asking the latter when I next meet her.

Time the great leveler.

Time is change, transformation, evolution…—Isaac L. Peretz

At 7.15 this morning, I received a phone call from a friend from my past. Someone that I had not seen for over ten years, but with whom I am in frequent telephone touch.

This friend PS, and his wife were the local guardians to our son Ranjan, when he was in boarding school for three years. Our son was practically like a son in their home as, every holiday and special occasion, he could be found in their home along with their own two sons and a daughter, all elder to our son.

PS wanted to know if I was awake and naturally I was curious! So, I asked him as to where he was calling from. He sheepishly said that he had just got off a plane at the Pune airport and was on his way to our home along with his son Satya. They just wanted to spend some time with us before they went off to Shirdi, a place of pilgrimage, and four hours’ drive from our place.

The three of us quickly got ready to receive them. When they finally arrived, it was to surprise us further as; their respective wives, one small child and two other elders, all members of the family accompanied them!

It was a great reunion for all of us, and particularly for Ranjan and Satya, as they had a lot to catch up with, Satya having gone off to the USA many years ago.

All of those present however were certain of one thing. If as individuals each had seen any one else in a neutral location, no recognition of each other could have taken place. Yes, time had taken its toll. PS had undergone by-pass surgery and become a grand father five times over. I had undergone revision to my replaced hips, Satya had got married and become a father, Ranjan had gone through a marriage and divorce and all the ladies were so much more elegant and charming in their parent and grand parent status.

Time the great leveler!

Hope For Peace!

There is a news item this morning in the web that a few Pakistani soldiers were killed while on a routine patrol of the LOC in Kashmir. The Pakistani official in charge of the sector however clarified that Indians were not responsible and some miscreants fired on the patrol and killed the soldiers. The Indian officer on the other hand also confirmed that both Pakistani and Indian forces engaged the miscreants who were trying to infiltrate into Kashmir.

This is the first time that I have come across such heartening news from the flash point between the two nations.

I am suddenly filled with hope that perhaps there now seems to be some hope for peace between the two.

The Japanese and IIT Patna, Bihar.

A newspaper report this morning says that the Japanese have regretted their inability to collaborate with the Indian Institutes of Technology to set up an Institute in Bihar. They are however prepared to collaborate with the Indians for one at Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

While the reason given has been that they are concerned about the poor law and order situation in Bihar, it is suspected that the real reason is their experience with Bihar in the past.

Some years ago, when Sri. Lalu Prasad Yadav was the Chief Minister of Bihar; a Japanese team had visited Bihar to study possible areas for business and educational tie-ups. After their visit, they had suggested to Sri Lalu Prasad Yadav that if they could be given six months time to rule Bihar, they could turn Bihar into another Japan. Sri Yadav told them in no uncertain terms that the proposal was ridiculous as if he was given just six days to rule Japan, he can turn Japan into another Bihar.

Losing a pet.

I have a friend, Prasad, in Australia who, like me is in retirement and quite addicted to the computer and browsing.

It is quite a story as to how we reestablished contact after forty years and though earlier on, we were not very close to each other, have become frequent communicators. We now communicate by email and also by skype phone fairly frequently and exchange ideas and information on a lot of things besides of course jokes!

Between 1965 and 1967, we were class-mates in a post graduate course. During this period, though we both share the same ethnic background, we did not become close friends. Late last year, an effort was made by some of our old class mates to organize a re-union of our class mates. Amazing work was done in locating almost all by the rule of six and the re union was a great success. Though neither Prasad nor I attended the re-union due to our own preoccupations, a number of us were able to get in touch with each other and come to know about us thanks to a yahoo group and exchange of mails as also a directory published and photographs shared after the re union.

It was during this period of getting back in touch with each other that, Prasad and I have reestablished contact and have become quite friendly.

Recently, I was unable to raise him on the skype phone and got quite worried. On querying him about the reason by email, he has responded that he was preoccupied with the final days with his dog who finally had to be put to rest. It has taken him and his family quite some time to come to grip with this loss.

This is not the first time that I have come across such grief over a pet. This is something that people who have never kept pets never seem to be able to understand. In my extended family of siblings and cousins, a lot of us have been brought up with dogs and some with cats also! Every time one of us loses a pet, condolence messages keep flooding the web on our various family groups and web sites.

It is extremely difficult to explain the attachment one develops with a pet at home. I am trying to use this blog to express my own understanding of this phenomenon.

I think that it is due to the inability of the pet to communicate to us like human beings can, that makes the relationships so deep. One makes the extra effort to establish a rapport with the animal which one does not with other human beings. The fact that the animal can not talk back to you or, is so dependant on one, brings out the best in one, I suppose. The sheer helplessness of the pet who has to put up with all the expectations of the master/mistress, does some inexplicable thing in the latter’s psyche that perhaps enables all positive emotions to come out instead of the mixture of negative and positive emotions that come out in interactions with humans.

I hope that Prasad reads this and responds with his own comments.