When Pumbaa met Khloe…

…we anticipated much circus — jealousy, aggression, mad barking, general crazy behaviour. Only, nothing happened.

Pumbaa
…has not changed. He is still scared of other dogs. That Khloe is only half his size did not seem to give him any false sense of superiority! He walked in, did not seem to register who I was (irrespective that I was overjoyed and screeching with love :D), was in search of refuge from this new doggy person and quickly hid behind my brother! Khloe came around to him, and they sniffed at each other. No barking, no aggression, no pangs of jealousy — nothing. We were surprised, and pleased. One less thing to take care of ;)

Khloe
…was not scared at all, of course not. She calmly went around to him, sniffed at him, and was generally curious at the presence of another 4-legged companion. That he is almost twice her size did not seem to affect her in the least. Having lived all her life with a group of/in the presence of other dogs (all Beagles, in her case), we knew she would not be scared of him — but the size difference, at least, was expected to have some bearing on her. None at all.

It is really endearing to see how they both are very curious about the other one’s presence. I am pretty sure Khloe would like to have his companionship. Pumbaa, I’m sure, will take his sweet time to break the ice and be pally with her. I remember how things were when Spike, a friend’s Cocker Spaniel, spent a week here with us long back. The first two days, Pumbaa pretended Spike did not exist. Even when we sat them opposite each other, Pumbaa would slowly either look away, or look at the ceiling, or look over Spike’s head (again, Spike was tiny when compared to Pumbaa). Like “If I cannot see him, I’m sure he doesn’t exist”. The third day, the ice began melting, and Pumbaa started trailing Spike everywhere. On the fourth day, he was seen actually playing with Spike, having mock-fights with him, and even falling all over him :D By the time the friendship was formed, it was time for Spike to return home :P Secretly, though, I think Spike was glad to go ;) After the initial days, Pumbaa did not let him have one moment to himself :D

Pumbaa and Spike -- from scared to paired ;)

Pumbaa and Spike — from scared to paired ;)

Pumbaa and Khloe
…have not become friends yet. She is very interested in him, and is probably baffled by his behaviour. I can almost see a thought bubble constantly hovering over her head with the words “Just when I thought I had some good company…why is this guy so weird? Pffft!” I can almost see a thought bubble constantly hovering over his head as well, that says “Oh my God! This woman. Just does NOT let me be. Can’t she see I have no interest in her? Well, almost no interest…

When they first met...he kept a safe distance

When they first met…he kept a safe distance.

Then he decided to pretend she did not exist!

Later, he decided to pretend she did not exist! :D

And then he decided to get to know her...

The next day, he decided to get to know her…

And then he again decided to pretend she does not exist! :P

…and decided it was safer to pretend she does not exist! :P

After she settled down with a bone, he heaved a sigh of relief and settled down with his.

After she settled down with a bone, he heaved a sigh of relief and settled down with his.

But when I tried to make them exchange a few words, he again pretended she did not exist! :-o

But when I tried to make them exchange a few words, he again pretended she did not exist! :-o

Later, as he sat watching the world go by, she joined him.

Later, as he sat watching the world go by, she joined him.

And as I almost heaved a sigh of contentment at this new bond, she gave him a kissie, and he ran off! :D

And as I almost heaved a sigh of contentment at this new bond, she gave him a kissie, and he slowly got up and ran off! :D

Pumbaa is pretty miffed that the house (and people) he owned all these years have to now be shared with this puny little thing who keeps harassing him all the time. “Stop following me around, can’t she? Duh! Do not take my submissiveness as lack of courage. Grrrrrrrrrrowl” says his thought bubble.

Playing hard to get, huh Pumbaa? ;)

I used to OWN this place. Duh!

As Pumbaa continues to play hard to get, Khloe is slowly realising that someone can actually be scared of her! “Scared of me, tiny lil’ me! Yay!” says her thought bubble now ;) And another one says, “Just because you can bark loudly and occasionally growl at me, I am not going anywhere. This house (and these people) are as much mine as they are yours.” Khloe is clearly not very impressed by Pumbaa’s strange behaviour :D

You don't impress me much...Pumbaa.

You don’t impress me much…Pumbaa.

Aside: Today, Khloe had her first taste of rice and beef. And boy, did she love it! All these days, she totally refused to eat anything else apart from bread and boiled eggs, and milk. We tried giving her everything, she would take none of it. After Pumbaa arrived, Khloe seems to appreciate variety in food ;)

  • He dropped a few tiny pieces of dog biscuit, and she gobbled them up. This, after I had tried my best and failed to make her even lick a piece of it all these days!
  • The moment he puts down the bone he is chewing on and goes off for water or a loo break, she quietly claims it as her own!
  • And today, after making her taste a tiny spoonful of Pumbaa’s “beef biriyani” as we call it, she could NOT wait for it to cool down. So we made her a share, gave it to her, which she wolfed down! And then she made a move to his share as well! He “grrrrrrr”ed at her, but of course, did nothing; pouted and went under the table. The husband and I had to then form a human barricade and block the hungry girl on one side while I fed the distraught boy on the other side!

Sooooo much fun :D I think the circus we had anticipated is just waiting to kick off ;)

Pumbaa, sooooooooo happy to have you back (even if for a while)! You are such a sweetheart :)

More pumbaastic updates

It’s been long since I wrote this and this about him. It’s time for some more.

  • In another 3 days, he will turn two! Oh my god. How time flies. Beeg boy he is now; only, he doesn’t know that, and refuses to even want to know ;).
  • He had an attack of gluten allergy recently. The last time I was home, no matter how lightly you pat him, anywhere on his body, he’d be extremely ticklish. Took him to the vet who said it could be a gluten problem. Asked us to avoid giving him his favourite chappatis and cake and generally all things sweet. Poor baby. :(
  • Whenever my brother raises his voice (generally in frustration at technology issues), Pumbaa runs to pacify him, thinking his presence can make everything alright. And well, works like a charm, every single time :)
  • Whenever I video chat with my folks back home, I call out to Pumbaa, with a few words ONLY I use on him. He comes, peers at the screen for a while, registers my face…and then goes mad, wags his tail furiously…and eventually jump on my brother or Amma, whoever is sitting there :D
  • The moment he realises he may have done something wrong, he bolts and hides under the sofa :D He thinks we can’t reach him there. Happened twice last time i was home, and how much I laughed! We were all sitting around the dining table in the evening, having tea. Pumbaa was also lying beside my chair. Amma slowly stepped around him, and in the process knocked over her cup of tea. And I loudly asked “What are you doing Amma?”…and Pumbaa bolted. ROFL. Took a lot of convincing before he believed he was not at fault for the spilt tea. A day later, I was playing tug with him, and as I let go of his toy, he jumped towards me with the toy dangling from his mouth. It came and hit me on my nose, right where I’d pierced it. And I went “Ouch”. In fact, I did not make a sound. I just stiffened, and clutched my face. And he bolted. ROFL. Despite the pain and the million stars dancing around, I had to get down on all fours to convince him he didn’t do anything, and was still my sweetheart :)
  • He gets two boiled eggs every morning, between 10 and 12. Wherever he is — terrace, near the gate, in my brother’s room, in a slumber — at the sound of shell cracking, he’s at Amma’s side! :-o
  • Whenever Amma goes out, he goes into depression. From the time she dresses up till she actually leaves, he’s this nicechild — all love, convincing her that it’s absolutely safe to take him along too. And when she actually does leave, he cocks his head to the right and looks at her, asking “How can you!?” Awww moment it always is. And no matter what treat she leaves him with, he refuses to eat till she’s back. And when she returns, he grabs the abandoned treat, goes to his ‘snack bar’ and munches on it, as if to say “Oh!I’m busy, and don’t really care you’re back, you abandoner!” :D
  • Amma made him an excellent bed, got him accustomed to using a pillow and everything. It lasted for 2 days. He prefers the settee in the living room :D Being the sensible one he is, he knows NOT to get on it during the day. And when it is bed time, dad brings out his bed sheet and covers the settee with it. All the while Pumbaa keeps trotting from one side to the other, impatient to get on it. It is only when dad says “OK” that he gets on it, though. Darling.
  • He hates ticks being plucked out of him. but the moment we take on out, he gets all restless, and has to be allowed to peer/sniff at it before we kill it :D Such a funny sight it is!
  • He loves the fisher woman that comes to our place. All the while that she’s at work cutting and cleaning the fish Amma buys, he sits by her side, giving her company. He does NOT lick at the fish. He has no plans to run off with a piece. No hidden agendas. Just wants to patiently sit by her side, making sure she doesn’t feel lonely. She loves him too, which is a good thing. Calls him her “muthu” (pearl/something precious) there. Cuteness overload. :)
  • Whatever we buy — stationery, clothes, all non-vegetables — have to be given to him to sniff, and approve for use :D It’s funny how he religiously sniffs every single item, then walks away without claiming any of the items. Chakkara. :)
  • Dad buys a kilo of beef every Sunday, then chops it up and divides it into 6 equal packs and stores in the freezer; taking one measure out everyday for his meal. Every Sunday, as Dad chops the beef, Pumbaa sits beside him patiently, drooling a sea around him, catching with precision the few pieces dad tosses at him :) Want to learn the art of patience? Be with Pumbaa during Sunday beef session :D

What hasn’t changed

  • The ass sniffing ;)
  • Understanding every.single.thing we say about/to him :)
  • Loving us unconditionally; being loved right back, equally unconditionally :)
  • Being a blessing :)
  • Being a joy to be around :)
  • Being the light of our lives :)
  • Being Pumbaastic :)

That’s all for now. Again, for certain people who “turn to mush seeing his pics”, here are some of the more recent pics on his very own page. Scroll right down!

Been a while since…

…I blogged last — not just posting on mine, but commenting on the million other posts I religiously read.

…I cooked a proper meal. Like, a complete lunch/dinner the way I used to.

…I really got down to gardening. I force myself to water them frequently to keep them alive.

…I spoke to my best buddies from school.

…I sang a full song, loud and clear.

…I’ve met some ex-colleagues I’ve been really wanting to meet (some things just do NOT happen).

…I’ve gone about taking random photographs. The camera is dying under a layer of dust (not literally).

…I’ve been fired by anyone for a really weird reason.

…I’ve done something mindless.

…I spent some real good time with family.

Been a while since I’ve been me. Sucks. Bah.

In Life. Just be fair.

I’m tired of writing come-back posts. So, don’t count this as one. For, I’m almost sure I’ll go off again.

Blogging, when in a bad state of mind, is not something I do or even want to do. Hehe…too many people may get hurt, shocked, whatever. So I’m not here to explain why I have been hibernating, for the umpteenth time. I just wanted to tell you…

I’m still kind of reeling under the effect of a major insight into what we fondly, angrily, exasperatedly and hopefully call ‘Life’! That no one has any right to judge another person—no matter what that person may have done or said.

I’m not the kind who sees or meets someone, judges them immediately (as being funny, nice, trustworthy, full of attitude, creepy, and so on) and compartmentalise them. I take my time, give them their space and study them well before I decide if I like them, love them, trust them, dislike them, hate them… But yes, over a period, I do end up judging them—as being good or bad. If they do/say something that is so against my principles and what I consider ‘right’, I do judge them. I suppose it is human.

And when I say we should not judge “no matter what that person may have done or said”, I mean it quite literally. Now, if you ask me if we should not judge someone who has committed a heinous crime—such as a murder for instance—well, I still think we shouldn’t. While you may judge someone for a physical murder, you may reach a point in life where you murder someone’s spirits, kill them mentally. As long as you destroy a person, it does not matter how. The end result is the same in both cases.

So yes, whatever whoever does—there is always a reason. The only thing is that their right maybe our wrong. What we cannot fathom, must have come so naturally to them, thanks to a lot of catalysts. Someone hates his parents, someone cuts off her best friend, someone falls out of love, someone cheats on a partner, someone walks out on his marriage, someone takes another person for a ride, someone steals, someone kills… They all have their reasons which we may never even be a million miles close to finding, ever.

So, when we judge someone, I think we need to know that at some point in time, invariably, we will find ourselves in that spot—the spot where that person we judged stood. At that time, our eyes will open wide, something will go smack in the head, make us stop in our tracks, feel our body go limp, sense our jaw drop…and we’ll be like ‘Oh my God…I never thought I’d ever be here /do this /say this…”

But one day, you will. We all will. I did. And I’m still shocked. I did NOT have this in mind, ever. I did not think I’d ever be where I am right now. But the fact is that I am…and I’m really shocked.

I guess the best we can do in life is to be fair—to the ones we love, hate, hurt, respect, bear with… Just be fair. Be fair, but don’t be sacrificial. Give them their chance at life, but not at the cost of yours. Grant them their happiness, but don’t lose yours.

OK, this is a little strange right now. I’m bad at these kinds of talks. So let me just admit I’m shocked, but I’m not sad about it. It could not have been avoided. Really. I did try. Quite many times, in many ways.

God, I’m shocked. :-|

Some more Pumbaastic updates :)

It’s been long since I wrote this about him; and boy, has he changed!

  • He is now a year and 5 months, almost; a grown(p)up ;) but he refuses to acknowledge that. He still is (and looks like he always will be) a kid. :P
  • He devours bananas. He takes—one at a time—from a bunch that’s kept on the fruit tray below the dining table, goes to his snack bar, peels it, eats it and leaves the skin there. The first time I saw this happening, I gaped. :-o
  • He eats dates, most carefully. He devours it like it’s the last morsel of food he’ll ever get—and then he slowly lowers his head and rolls out his tongue, from which will roll out a spotless date seed. :-o
  • He is no longer the aviyal-loving, curd-loving, give-me-anything-home-made-and-I-shall-eat sweet little thing. He has preferences. :-/
  • There are days when he just decides he does not want to eat on his own. So he’ll look at his plate, walk around, look at one of us, walk around…generally letting us know “I’m hungry, but I am not going to eat by myself”. When one of us (mostly mom or me, no one else falls for these :roll:) take it bit by bit and feed him like feeding a little kid, he finishes every morsel of food on his plate :roll:
  • When in one of his moods, he hunts out every single piece of chicken/beef/fish from the rice-meat mix we give him and leaves every grain of rice there! :P
  • He does NOT appreciate Pedigree or anything similar for more than a day (or two, max!) at a time. :-|
  • The ONE thing he cannot stay away from, and drools till there’s a sea around him, is “the cake”! He cannot even control himself from jumping up and biting it right off your hand (without hurting you of course!) It always amazes us, his greed for cakes :D
  • He understands every.single.thing we say about/to him. How he responds/obeys, is totally dependent on his mood though :roll:
  • The one command he obeys unconditionally is “Stay”. For every other command, he obeys or ignores based on the presence or absence of food in the commander’s hands :D
  • When we ask him where his “toy” is, he scrambles all over the house like mad till he finds it. After that, he expects us to play with him till he tires out. And if we try to ignore him, he catches hold of our legs (one paw across a leg, holding it close to his head so we wont move!) and makes sure we say “OK, let’s play!” :)
  • Every time he comes with the toy to play, if we tell him “I have work, Pumbaa. I’ve to cook/eat/clean up. I’ll play with you after that”, he puts the toy down and lies beside it, following our every move. The moment that particular work is done, he comes to us with the toy, almost asking “You’re done now. Can we play?” :D
  • We have different names for his toys, and he identifies each one when we ask for a specific one by name! :D [Yes, I know some kids who can do that :D]
  • He is in love! With pretty little “Twinkle”, a Beagle that stays in our neighbourhood. Well, I’m in love with her too! But this is like serious love! The minute she reaches close to our gate, she starts pulling on her leash and makes sure there’s a stop at our gate. As for Pumbaa, whatever he is doing right then, he ditches it all, and bounds down the stairs. Then there’s much kissing and licking and pawing from two sides of a gate. It’s the cutest sight. Really. And when Twinkle is led away and looks back forlornly, her owners promise to bring her the next day, and she lets out one tiny woof and goes off. Replay happens next day evening :D
  • He gets extremely jealous if he sees any of us hugging/kissing someone other than him. Suraj hugs me, he jumps at Suraj. My brother hugs me, he jumps at my brother. My brother hugs my mother, he jumps at my brother. I hug my mother, he jumps at my mother ;) OK…looks like my mom and I are his alone!
  • There are times when Suraj leashes him to our living room door (for too much mischief), and he lies down there patiently. Till he sees that I’ve sat down beside Suraj on the couch. He can no longer sleep, but he would still lie there, watching us all the time. I would then slowly lean on to Suraj…and Pumbaa would invariably sit up straight and let out pathetic whines. And then Suraj would put his arm around me and hold me close—and Pumbaa would be on his feet, whining, barking, pulling at his leash and being generally pissed off till we both say “OK…we won’t touch”. He then becomes quiet, and sits, but not quite happily, till I go pet him. He then goes off to sleep till I sit near Suraj the next time :D
  • He thinks anyone except Amma is allowed to scold him. Amma, however, is his playmate. No matter what he does how, she is NOT supposed to scold. He sulks like mad if she does :D
  • He sniffs our backsides all the time :D I read somewhere that that’s how dogs collect data/information about people. Why he has to collect data on the same people every time they get up from their seats, beats me! There are times we have to stand pressed to the wall and say “No, Pumbaa. No!” and he gives us a forlorn look and backs off. Not for long, though. He has even learnt to do it discreetly. The embarrassment, however, is when he sniffs and then blows his nose loudly and forcefully, shaking his head, like he just inhaled some hydrogen sulphide! :D

That’s all for now. Waiting for him to finish off his 2-month vacation, to come back and give me fodder for more updates :D For certain people who “turn to mush seeing his pics”, here are some of the more recent pics on his very own page. Scroll right down ;)

when life throws lemons at you…

I haven’t been blogging for quite a while now; life got on to a roller coaster (which has happened before) but got derailed this time (which has never happened before) :D No major casualties, but definitely left a few bruises will stay for quite a while.

Too many changes happened. Some were planned, some were expected (but hoped not to happen) and some just took me by utter surprise.

I don’t take too kindly to that kind of utter surprise. Sudden changes in decisions, plans, dreams, life, so on and so forth, do not really fall in my list of “I love”s. I am the kind that actually needs time to accept a change and adapt to it well. Even an unplanned movie plan can put me in turmoil. I’m not kidding, it really can. Ask Suraj, if you need evidence :D As someone who absolutely LOVES giving surprises, the poor thing has to think a million times before he can give me one (and finally, he always decides not to). :D

I always need time to prepare myself to major changes: like job changes, relocations, letting people come into and go from my life…

So, when life suddenly throws lemons at me, my first instinct is to duck under the table, rather than make some lemonade out of them.

To start with, I had to quit a job I liked because of certain people and reasons. Then a relocation was briefly considered, which I finally decided will NOT happen. Then my parents relocated back to Trivandrum (and took Pumbaa with them for a while). And then we decided to move houses, which further depressed me, for I’m quite comfortable in the house we live in, and is totally in love with Koramangala (I now totally understand what she meant when she wrote this. And then a few other things happened, which I really do not want to talk about here. So basically, life’s not been too good so far. I don’t think I like 2012 too much :D 2011 was fun and generally stress-free.

The good things: I’m still in the same house; I’ve got myself a new job (which also gave me a laptop, though I still miss my T410…but well, it serves the purpose well enough); I’m still in my ‘initial days’ at work, making me generally jobless and helping me get back to my blog; I participated in a Blogstar competition at work, and both my posts got featured in the top 15 of a total of 56 posts (yay!!) :D; I’m back to my travel-by-volvo days, and enjoying it much; I am back in charge of the kitchen, since the senior chef ran off to Trivandrum forever…and I’ve held on for a month and half now, without eating out most days like we used to before the parents came to B’lore (makes me pretty proud of myself ;) ); I’m back to gardening and talking to my plants and making sure they’re happy—which is actually because of Pumbaa’s absence (he used to make sure he got all my time and attention).

So yes, there are a few good things that make me happy; but the bad ones are quite phenomenal, and damn depressing. I try to push them to the bottom of the pile, but well, they keep coming up for air every now and then. Basically, am not very good company now :D So, be happy none of you are we-talk-daily friends with me :D

I’ve been reading all your posts, ‘liked’ some of them and just quietly left without making my presence known on some others. While it makes me happy to know happiness is happening to many of you out there, I’m also quite frustrated that I’m not in the frame of mind/life to be able to be blissfully happy that way.

While we are at it, I’d like to thank my brother, Hobbes, and Vimmuuu (without knowing at all that I’m in no mood to tolerate his nonsense), for making me laugh like mad in some of my down-in-the-dumps moments and making me momentarily forget that I’m dodging lemons. :D

Life, I tell you! Sigh.

Pongala: for the Devi, by the devis

Looks like if I’m not travelling, I have nothing to write about :D

Well, not entirely true. I did write a love letter, for CB‘s latest contest “love is in the air”. There were two parts in the contest: on was to create badges, and the other, to write a love letter. Well, halfway through the design, I realised the deadline had passed :D so i gave up. Which meant I also gave up on the yet-to-begin love letter, till CB extended the deadline. (Damn! There was no excuse i could give after that :D)

Today is Pongala, and I thought I might write about how we celebrated it.

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For the uninitiated, Pongala is a religious festival celebrated by Hindu women. ‘Pongala‘ means ‘to boil over’ — and on this day, women devotees get together for the ritualistic offering of payasam: a porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses (or sugar), grated coconut, nuts and raisins.

It’s celebrated across a few temples in South India, but it’s been made famous by the Attukal Temple at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It’s the one time when the sleepy Thiruvananthapuram city witnesses a night that’s longer than the day ;) Women from all over South India (I guess there are people from all over the country now) gather in the city, near or in the temple premises, stocked with the ingredients, round earthen pots, bricks and tiber from the coconut trees.

On a day or two prior to the festival:
Women travel to the city and set up temporary homes on the roadsides. They book their spots on the roads, lanes, footpaths and shop fronts in a radius of several kilometres around the temple (fighting for the one nearer to the temple). The bus stands and the railways station are NOT the place to be, if you’re not a devout devotee, and especially of you’re a member of the male gender ;)

The roads are filled with vehicles bursting with their occupancy. The city dwellers don their hospitality hats and wait their turns to help the devotees. They let their courtyards be used as tent spots, let the devotees use their precious toilets, offer excellent home-cooked suppers and comfort elements — for they consider the very act of a hospitality a means to please the Goddess!

A visit to the temple is mandatory on the previous day; so is a fasting. If you are a man, you will not be allowed anywhere near the areas where the festival is in progress—unless you’re a badge-donning member of the temple volunteer group or the police force.

On the Pongala day:
All the arteries of this tiny town—less than a hundred and fifty square kilometres of land area—becomes look-alike rows of make-shift stoves ready to be lit. No vehicles ply within the city; the police and volunteers stop them at the outskirts. Volunteers set up free food-and-lemonade stalls at every 500 meters!

Security is the biggest concern of the government on the day—what combo could be worse than crowds of women and fire!? Over 5000 police men and 500 women constables plus more senior officials. Volunteer organisations work around the clock to provide medical aid, food, water and help. And the day experiences an uncanny pleasant demeanor by all people, and there is no bossing round, no bad attitudes, no negativity.

A cannon sound reverberates when the priest lights the hearth within the temple. The flame is quickly passed from the sacred hearth to others, and in an unbelievable and superb gesture of community participation, over a million hearths burn up class, creed and sects on this day, as the Devi replaces everything in their hearts with devotion and prayers.

The city is then enveloped in a cloudy cloak.

While some struggle to light a hearth and handle the smoke, sun and the streaming eyes, there are others who, having participated for many years, handle up to a 101 hearths: an auspicious number for everything divine. Another cannon announces the “boiling over” at the temple, and then the wait begins — for the temple representative priests to sprinkle the offering with scared water, as a sign of the Goddess’ blessing. Once the holy water is sprinkled on each one’s earth, they’re ready to head home.

Women also use this opportunity to exchange addresses and goodies. Traffic begin its craziness and vehicles make a slow-moving bee-line to various parts of the city and out of it.

Over 2 million burning hearths and twenty square kilometres of land! Fire, gender security, pollution, traffic problems, the concerns are numerous. But they’re all overcome and the pongala continues to be a success year after year.

After the festival:
The city is a mess after the festival: miles of blackened bricks, firewood and earthenware. You may not have seen where the food-and-lemonde stalls were, but the left over cups and the paper plates will tell a tale. And before one knows it, its time for the sanitation workers to jump in for the rescue of the roads. By late night, the city is back to what it was two days back ;)

A ceremonial rain (which has marked its presence every single year) washes down the pollution and the smoke: Nature’s certification of a festival well-celebrated.

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Of the pongala tales I’ve heard, the one bit that has been vivid is that it used to be a festival for the poor. Apparently, in the olden days, the house helps were the ones who used to participate in the festival. It was considered a festival / a day off for them, to revel in the Goddess’s blessings and attention. But over the years, as the festival became more popular. it became a matter of ‘participation’, I guess. And today, like everything else, we have a pongala that’s commercialised. Media channels interview ‘stars’ who ‘share space with the non-stars, the lesser mortals*rolling eyes*! It’s no longer a day that allows the “poor” to have a dedicated day with the Devi. Sigh!

Anyway, today being pongala, Amma was busy and ‘not-on-kitchen-duty’. Though initially she had been all sad she wasn’t at Thiruvananthapuram to be a part of it, when we decided “God’s everywhere” and she could easily “boil over” up on our terrace, Amma was thrilled :D Well, heaven was just a little further up than three stories high ;)

Amma's little terrace-temple ;) and the pongala payasam in the making :) Pic courtesy: my brother

After a long time, I was put on kitchen duty for the day :D But of course, I woke up late, and Amma had to take care of breakfast. Boy, was she pissed!

After all the scoldings and everything for ‘almost’ spoiling her day, I went to the kitchen :D And while she sat out in the hot sun, lit a fire and made the pongala payasam, I stayed back in the cool kitchen and made Mushroom Biriyani for lunch ;)

The Mushroom Biriyani I made and we binged on ;)

Pumbaa binged on it too :D He wagged his tail, licked me and (almost) said “Pumbaastic lunch that was!” :D :D :D

Took the recipe from Nag’s Edible Garden and added my own 2 cents (i tnd to do tht all the time; mostly, the result is yumm, but i’ve had my share of yucks too) :D

Personally, I’ve never quite liked this festival — only because pongala, as far as i can remember always constituted an off-work day for Amma: but she’d be out the entire day and would come back in the evening tanned, tired and tyrannic :D Well, she had a migraine problem and over 5 minutes in the sun could give her a headache…so imagine a whole day out there in the heat, smoke and pollution. Pongala evenings were always of payasam, and “be quiet, i have a headache” and us tiptoeing around to give Amma a quiet time. No, not a good, ‘fun’ festival :D And a sun-hater myself, I’ve NEVER been out there for a single pongala!

The only good part was the holiday at school and college — but again, since the traffic comes to a stand still the entire day, the ‘holiday’ always went for a waste and we were all stuck at home. I really don’t think such things should be imposed on the entire population. What of the people who do not participate, the ones who do not believe in it, the ones who might have an emergency? life cannot come to a standstill just for the sake of a celebration :(

Anyways, after a rather long time, I enjoyed this year’s ‘pongala‘ — one that was minus the crowds, minus the pollution, minus the smoke, minus the heat, minus an Amma who comes back home in the evening with a bad headache and a badder mood ;)

The payasam was extra tasty this time! :)

two thousand t(h)en: the year that went by :-)

2010. It was good, it was bad.

The year began with a long weekend, with JANUARY 1 falling on a Friday! Most of the month kept us busy house hunting. I had completely given up on blogging, and had not blogged at all, after 15 October 2009! Had joined a new company in November 2009, and was finding myself in a whirlwind. Though the designation and the job was the same, the medium was online (and not print) media and I was very new to it. Shifting from the house in J.P. Nagar, Bangalore, was a difficult decision. But the commute to work was taxing and we figured Koramangala was a mid-point for both me and the husband from our respective offices. By the end of Jan, we chanced up on the house we are at now – and the so-don’t-want-to-move decision became a can’t-wait-to-move one. To add to it, the owner of the previous house became a nag and started bargaining on the advance he had to pay back: finally, he paid us 15k less of what we had given! In a financial crisis ourselves, we almost wanted to smash his head, and waked out of their in fury :D

We moved into this house in the first week of FEBRUARY and fell in love with the place. As for the owner, one gem of a person! A philanthropist of the highest order. Will need a complete post to describe him! :) Anyways, most of Feb was spent settling in, and parents visiting, and making friends at work, and meeting neighbours, and other mundane stuff.

MARCH came in rather quickly, and I was completely settled at work. I made three real good friends there, and the 4 of us hung out like fevicol buddies! :D But apart from office and home, I realized I wasn’t having a life. And so, I came back to blogging. I had had one too many blogging breaks – and I was almost sure I’d be ignored, not read anymore and the like. But to my disappointment, most of the lovely bloggers I’d known and loved had left the blogville! That only made me more worried.  I’d have to start all over again, and make “blog friends”. I’m glad I decided to go ahead. Though I still miss the old “gang” (I still have ALL of them in my blogroll, in the hopes that they’ll come back someday, like I did), the new people I got to know are the best on the planet! :) So, exactly 5 months after my previous post, I made my first post of 2010 on 15 March! It was also then that a school mate wrote me a lovely mail that took me all the way back to school. Thanks MC!

APRIL slowly rambled in and bought in its wake the loss of the husband’s dear mobile. I’ve never seen him so depressed! And I made a post out of it and got labeled ‘the wife who laughs at the husband’s misery’ :D Three days later – after a gap of 4 months – I called up one of my closest friends to know she’s pregnant! Again, all the way back to school I went. Those were the days! It made me think of how much I’ve changed in all those years—and I came to the sad conclusion that I hadn’t changed much. Andthat’s when I listed down some of my LOL stupidities in life—one of my favourite posts so far. April is also the month when the husband and I celebrate our ‘unofficial’ anniversary: and to spice up our life, we decided to go on a week-long trip. A getaway from everything else. Anyways, the father-in-law was retiring the next month, and he also wanted to go on a vacation with us: for gelling-better purposes ;)

We were on vacation all of MAY first week. We went to Coorg and from there to all of his relatives’ places in Kerala and then to Poovar, Tihruvananthapuram! We reached back, got back into the home-work-home lifestyle and I decided to go on a trip every month. Weekend trip, long trip, half day trip…I didn’t mind. I also took a few resolutions: swimming, driving, music classes, gardening and monthly trips. The first three didn’t work, while the last two worked for the most part. My parents relocated to Bangalore and took up the 1BHK on the ground floor of our house. So, we have the whole house to ourselves now! Yey! End of May, we also went ahead and booked our first-ever car: the Tuscan Wine Fiat Grande Punto :) At work, things were getting bad. All four of us were fed up and was planning to move out. Personally, right from the day I rejoined after the vacation, I’d been fed up :P

JUNE was an exciting month. My blog turned 2 and I was mighty proud :D At work, all four of us got new offers and things were being processed. We couldn’t be happier. I was the one who decided to move out, and pulled the other 3 into the bandwagon! So, when there was a plan formulated for a meet-up of us college friends, I couldn’t be happier. The day before our trip, I rushed out from office, requested a dog to excuse me and literally ran home to pack! We were off to Munnar! Cousins, Uncle and Aunt came for a week to Bangalore from Trivandrum, and we all had a great time! We went to Mysore and Srirangapatna – my first time to Mysore after I came to Banaglore 3 years ago :D Well, on the flip side, my uncle had a heart attack (!), my mom’s BP rose high, my aunt had a bad fall and my bro (alone in the UK) had a baaaaaad fever!

JULY came and saw us at Manipal: a most lovely place! It was also a month of so many changes: the Tuscan Wine Fiat Grande Punto came home, I got into IBM—new work timings, new sleep timings, new friends, new work profile… And I posted my first and last ever Thursday Challenge. It was ONLY to show off that photograph: I’ve never participated in a TC or a WW before or after that :D

Starting 15 AUGUST, we celebrated the 10 days of Onam and made the pookkalams on all 10 days:
Atham, Chithira, Chothi, Vishakham, Anizham, Thrukaetta, Moolam, Pooraadam, Uthraadam and Thiruvonam. And after falling badly ill, the week after that, we went off to Wayanad: one of the best places I’ve been to! We trekked up to Edakkal Caves and the Wayanad Heritage Museum, went to Pookkode Lake, Banasura Sagar Dam and the Jain Temple @ Sultan Bathery and went for a safari to the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary.

SEPTEMBER was a fun month, blog-wise. Chatterbox ran the Finish It To Win It contest, and it was a load of blogfun! I finished it to win some prizes! Was too caught up in this, had no time for a trip! :D :D :D :P

Now OCTOBER was horrid. Horrid, simply, indescribably horrid! Caught in a mad man’s world, we suffered a load of mental tension, sleepless nights, unproductive work hours and insult to injury! And if all those weren’t enough, there were even nightmares for rent! Was the WORST MONTH of the year, and filled us all with a lot of hatred and negativity! To ease some of that negativity and bad moods, uncle, aunt and two brats came from Delhi for a week-long vacation and we had fun. We went to Ooty and Mysore—didn’t want to break the trip-every-month vow :D

NOVEMBER, every year, had always been my fav! That’s when my birthday is—and since the past2 years, the wedding anniversary too ;) November 2, the day I turned 26, I got Pumbaa and the Canon EOS550 DSLR Rebel T2i: two of the most precious gifts ever…from a totally precious person—a husband who doesn’t just SAY “anything for you darling”, but DOES something about it too :D It was also the month when I ‘discovered’ an unknown relative through the power of blogging ;) Of course, there were no trips in November—except the ones to the veterinary clinic with Pumbaa ;)

All of DECEMBER literally flew, with Pumbaa keeping us all busy—why, he even had visitors coming in, with appointment, to see him and play with him!!!—and the upcoming end-of-december vacation keeping me super busy at work—result? No time to blog! And on 24 Dec, wrapping up work and packing up clothes, food and Pumbaa, we were off to our Kerala-Goa vacation! Yep, travellogue coming up soooon!

So, a very good year in all, except for the dampner in October—which is like a dampner for life. Everytime we see the scratches on the Punto the blood boils!

Sorry for the boring post, but it’s a record of 2010—for future references, just in case :D :P

Anyways, here’s wishing you all a
FUNtastic, grace-filled, prosperous year ahead.  Let 2011 be the year of your dreams! :)

as i turned 26…

…on November 2nd, I expected a little Labrador pup to jump out of a gift basket (like the ones you see in movies and ads) and come trotting up to me. Didn’t happen! :(

Anyway, my aunt had come down to Bangalore all the way from Ahmedabad just to celebrate my birthday. Till 2005 (that’s when I left Trivandrum), she used to be home for every birthday of mine. So, since the custom had broken off for 5 whole years, she decided to make it for this one :) The presents came with her too ;) Two lovely kurtis ;) ;) Well, she’s always had THE best eye for clothes!

The husband was surprisingly “very sleepy” by 10.30p.m. (while on other days, I have to threaten him with divorce to come to bed at least before 11.30p.m.!!!)]  and dragged me off to bed. And suddenly, had some serious discussions to make…and kept me awake till 12 :D And again, suddenly, he was hungry, and wanted to have a glass of water :P That’s when I asked “What cake is it? Chocolate?” :D And with a sheepish smile, he takes me downstairs. Am greeted by Amma, who (almost) blindfolds me and refuses to allow me to the main room. And then, hands clasped over my eyes, am led to the table. All I expect is a cake and candles…when there’s a blast and I open my eyes and the rooms decorated soooo well, like it’s the first birthday of a toddler :) Balloon and colour papers and glitters and  what not. Whooopieeee!

And after the cake is cut and stuffed into all hungry mouths, my brother winks at me and points to the holder beneath th tabletop: the GIFT! A big box wrapped in a lovely paper! I open it…and am speechless! It’s this:

 

Canon EOS550 DSLR Rebel T2i - for the rebel ;)

I look at my brother, say “Thank you…!” and look at everyone, thanking everyone for it. I am clueless as to whose gift it is. It being a Canon, I assume it’s from the brother. Until my aunt says, “Thank your patiji…it’s his gift ;) come all the way from U.S.” Speechless again…and sheepish too…for having thanked the brother instead!

I give him a flushed look and say “Thanks a ton, darling…”, to which he replies, “The camera’s here ; the model will come soon too ;)”

A day and half later, came this new, tiny fur ball :) Though he didn’t really jump out of a gift basket (like the ones you see in movies and ads) and come trotting up to me.

Our Pumbaa…The successor of Ricky, our first ever fur ball :)

 

A 30-day-old male Labrador Retriever :)

Had had a 3-day long weekend…and was oh-so-not interested in going to office on the 4th day which was also the birthday :D. Well, Amma’s chicken pox came as a blessing in disguise. [Oh, for those who didn't know, my brother came back from UK after a year long stay -- and bought us "imported chicken pox virus" :D :D He came with rashes all over his body...and we thought it was some kind of food poisoning or allergy -- and that too, we all saw it only after the 'warm welcome' ceremony was over: hugs n kisses n more hugs.] Took the day off to take care of Amma. Let her rest, took over the cooking. Made prawns biriyani, beef curry, salads, and with other accompaniments like pappads and pickle, had a yummyyyyyy lunch!

I’ve never before been gifted a camera and a model! I’ve never before been the “cook” on my birthday. I’ve never before thanked the wrong person for a gift given by another :D I’ve never before had this kind of super fun! :)

Feels blessed…for lovely parents, an awesome brother and well, for having a husband who doesn’t just SAY “anything for you darling”, but DOES something about it too :D *hunts for a dark corner to hide in, for she never gets him anything on his birthday :( :(*

All in all, a birthday like no other!

P.S.: On November 3rd, I borrowed the chicken pox from Mom, and was out of commission for quite a while :D I knew this would happen, ‘coz she’s the one who blew up all the balloons, which were burst over my head. I told her she shouldn’t have blown all the virus into the balloons :D :D :D Love you, Amma. Thanks to you, I’ve been home all this month; no office ;) :D :D

P.S. or P.S.: Happy Children’s Day, everyone! :)

Ricky: a friendly, loving, golden fur ball :)

“Whatever you do, don’t catch a dog by its tail”, said her dad, alarmed to see her grab the tail at first sight.

She was 8, her brother 10. They lived in a sprawling house, set in 2-and-a-half acres of trees, shrubs, a pond and what not. There were cows, cats, kids, the neighbour’s hen…  All that was missing was a dog.

It was the first time a dog was bought home, and she and her brother were thrilled. Yet, she was scared to go near it and pet it. So, she sat a distance away and after a while, had decided that the tail was at arm’s length…and very touchable ;) That’s when her dad had admonished her. Apparently, the head, scruff, back and tail are a dog’s dominating areas. “It’s where other dogs grab in fights. So, unless the dog’s well acquainted with you, you must not catch its tail.”

But well, as far as she could make out, the dog didn’t seem to care at all.

“What dog is this?” she asked. “It’s a Lab…Labrador Retriever. They are very friendly; especially with kids” said the cousin, more her big brother, winking at her. Their father agreed. He had had a Labrador Retriever too, long long back. Neetu: a beautiful, black girl. This one here was a golden. A 6-month-old ‘she’.

It seemed mighty happy, active and eager to please. The only reason she pulled her hand back vehemently was more out of the danger-tone in her dad’s voice than out of fear of the dog who turned around to look at her that moment. It wagged its thick strong tail fast and furiously, thumping it against her tiny legs. She jumped up, wailing “It’s so strong, it hurts!”. The dog lifted its eyebrows, tilted its head to the right and licked her across her face.

“Ewwww, gross!” she said, wiping her face on her petticoat. Her brother guffawed and her big brother, who’d brought the dog in, laughed aloud. Her dad laughed aloud too, and petted the dog. The dog seemed to think she liked it, for it licked her again. “Ewwwww. Stop it.” She screamed, and walked away. She turned around and saw the dog looking at her, apology brimming from its eyes. “You hurt the dog’s feelings”, mocked her big bro and she returned. There was real expressions of curiosity, doubt, wonder and affection on the dog’s face.

“What do we call it?, she asked her big brother.
Her. It’s a she. Let’s call her Ricky”.
“Ricky? Why? Isn’t that a male name?” “
Well, maybe, but that’s what her owner used to call her. If we call her something else now, we’ll confuse her, won’t we?” asked her big brother.

And that’s how Ricky became part of the family. Her big brother, though Ricky’s “owner/master”, kept shuttling between Guruvayur (where Ricky was bought to) and Trivandrum (their hometown). So, her brother and she donned the role of ‘caretakers’ of Ricky.

They groomed her, trained her, bathed her, petted her, played with her, took her for quick runs, gave her thorough exercise sessions and swam with her (Ricky was always the first to jump in whenever the three of them went to the pond). In return for all these, Ricky would always be with them, keeping them safe. In spite of being given a bed on the verandah, Ricky would ALWAYS sleep in their room, giving them company and a sense of security. Ricky seemed to know the 8-year-old girl was too scared to sleep alone in the room, till her brother was ready for bed. No matter where she curled up, Ricky would settle by her feet, making her feel safe :)

Though their dad loved dogs, he was a busy man, and couldn’t spend much time with Ricky. Ricky knew this, and seemed to accept and respect him the way he was. Ricky knew he was the master of the house, even if he wasn’t her master. And she always obeyed, at the slightest nod or grunt from him. ;)

The mother was forever in the kitchen, or cleaning the house. But she was Ricky’s chef, and Ricky loved her. Ricky would risk disobeying anyone, but the mother! Ricky seemed to know that she wasn’t spending too much time with Ricky because of other responsibilities. And Ricky respected that as well.

Ricky was fun…and the kids loved her! She loved them all too. But what Ricky loved the most there, was the pond.

What Ricky did the moment the leash was off
True to its breed, Ricky was always full of energy. Ready for a run, a walk, a jump, a dive – any time of day or night. Ricky was usually let off the leash only when the kids came back from school; or on holidays, since their mother was scared Ricky would run off (especially since she would generally  be in the kitchen or indoors, unable to keep tabs on a leash-less hyperactive dog). So, the moment the kids reached home, they’d quickly throw their bags on the table, get out of their school uniform and into their swim gear, have a quick bite and rush to free Ricky. By this short time span, Ricky would be going around in circles on the verandah, giving vent to all her pent up energy. She knew the kids would free her any moment. Initially, this was a challenge…and the kids almost got dragged along. Later on, they’d remove the leash and stand as far away from Ricky as possible. And what about Ricky? The moment the leash was off, Ricky would shoot out of the verandah like a bullet, and run like crazy around the house at least 5 times before making a beeline to the pond and diving a perfect dive! The kids would follow suit ;) It was only then that she would give herself up for a round of petting ;) Without change, Ricky was always the first in and the last out of the pond every time!

Ricky’s unusual friendship
Ricky had the most unusual friendship: with a frog! The first day she and her brother saw Ricky pawing at a small frog, they thought it was going to be Ricky’s dinner. They quickly scolded Ricky for being cruel, and shooed the frog away. Ricky watched them with forlorn eyes and an expression that seemed to ask “???” But when they spotted the frog every evening on the verandah, they knew there was more to the story. So, they spied…and what did they see? Each time the frog hopped over to Ricky, Ricky would fling it back to the steps and wait patiently, tail wagging furiously. The frog would, each time, patiently come hopping back, only to be thrown off again by Ricky. This was a daily affair: the frog would come hopping in by 7.00p.m. and would go away by about 7.30p.m.! Without fail, every day. Even on Sundays! :D

The day Ricky swallowed a lizard
One day, Ricky swallowed a lizard. And that too, right when the mother was petting her. She was horrified. Lizards were poisonous. What if Ricky fell ill? She scolded Ricky, wacked her, did all she could think off to make Ricky spit it out. Ricky didn’t budge. Concerned and anxious, she called her kids aside and told them about the lizard. The kids had an idea. “Let’s hide inside and growl. Ricky ALWAYS barks out loud when we growl.” The mother agreed. She took Ricky out on to the courtyard and tied her to a tree. And she went back into the house. The three of them went into the bedroom window nearest to where Ricky was tied up, and slowly growled. Ricky had ALWAYS responded to their growls by barking out loud and clear. But this time, Ricky was silent. She seemed to know this was a ruse. The threesome gave up the plan. By now, the mother was thoroughly worried. She broke off a twig from a nearby tree and gave Ricky a few whacks. After about 15 full minutes and more whacks, fed up of the drama, Ricky pawed at the ground and uncovered a small hole she’d dug: and there lay dead and buried, six centimetres under, the lizard the three of them thought was in Ricky’s mouth :D :D :D She’d probably spat it out an buried while we were busy growling from the dark room ;)

The day Ricky relocated
And after almost a year and half, it was time for her big brother to move off to Qatar, where their aunt lived with their uncle and two little brothers. The aunt had found him a job. Ricky, he decided, would now go to Trivandrum and give his mom, dad, sis and brother-in-law some good company. The kids were heartbroken. Their Ricky would no longer be their Ricky :( But well, masters decide what their dogs do. And so, one day, the kids bade goodbye to Ricky and sulked for many days. They had company. The little frog came looking for Ricky every day for almost a month, when it was finally convinced its huge, friendly, loving, golden fur ball had truly vanished. [Every time the family went to Trivandrum after that, there was a visit to the aunt’s house. Ricky always gave them the warmest possible welcome. And the best of her love, she always saved for the mother, her previous “chef”.]

The day Ricky bade goodbye
Ricky had a problem with her reproductive system. Her uterus was faulty; which led to an illness that Ricky lived with forever. But being a true Labrador, she was always the happy, spirited load of sweetness! While with the kids, she had always had ample exercise: something VERY crucial for the well being of all Retrievers, be it Labradors or Goldens. But when she went back to Trivandrum, she went into a household that LOVED all animals, but wasn’t very particular about their fitness. Ricky put on a lot of weight, her persistent illness got worse, and she bade us all a quick goodbye – much earlier than the average lifespan of a Labrador. The kids, both of them now older and more conscious of their behavior, went into the privacy of the room they shared and wept. The loss was incomparable to anything they had ever felt.

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Ricky with my Dad...from the set of pics we took during the Onam of 1997.

While the life chapters of Ricky came to an end, her spirit, her love and her memories lived on. It still does. And it always will. Ricky brought in a lot of love into our household. Never did we think that many years later, the mere mention of Ricky would bring back a flood of the sweetest of memories…and that ‘Ricky’ would always mean ‘love’ to the family she belonged to: to us. Every golden Labrador we see anywhere (on the road or on screen) is always Ricky; any Labrador we think of buying is always referred to as Ricky. Any credit for our love of dogs, and Labradors especially, goes to Ricky.

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Ricky with my Dad...another one from the set of pics we took during the Onam of 1997.

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Today, as I write this, I’m filled with a deep sorrow. Guess I (and the rest of my family) have not, and never will, get over Ricky. And I’ve decided – no dog that comes into our lives will ever be called Ricky again. The name represents only one dog. A vivacious, full-of-life, bubbly, spirited golden Labrador Retriever that lived with us in Guruvayur in 1993.

Ricky and a baby cat...sometime close to her goodbye...1999, maybe.

To Ricky. We all love you…and we all still miss you.