Monkey Business

So yesterday, I went out in the morning to run a few errands this morning with mum in tow. We got a spot of lunch at a South Indian cafe at King’s Circle, which is close to where we stay. On coming out, I thought I saw a rather oddly shaped dog on the pavement.

Only. It wasn’t a dog. It was a monkey.

India is known for a proliferation of monkeys and cows, the former in places near forested areas and the latter just everywhere. In spite of seeing monkeys often in the ghats, on the way to Pune, one in Mumbai, in the middle of the city, in a populated area, with loads of foot traffic and vehicular traffic, is an uncommon sight.

My mother darkly muttered about rabies and menace, and we walked away after I snapped a quick picture. However, other people reacted differently.

Did they shout or yell? Nope. Did they call animal control (or whatever India’s equivalent is)? Nope. Did they run away? Nope.

They fed the monkey bananas. A fruit seller tried to give the monkey a coconut too.

It is official. My country is bananas.


I used to think that all dogs hated baths, contrary beings that they are, even though most love swimming. But I have seen enough videos of happy dogs, well-behaved dogs, and the like, to know that my specimen was particularly badly behaved.

She was prone to ear and skin infections, and I ran through a massive gamut of ointments, salves, medicated shampoos, gels, medicines, supplements, unguents, and sprays, before being told of a simple, but extremely effective remedy.

[I’m going to refrain from putting it up here, because it is a home remedy, and it may have worked for my dog, but might not in other circumstances. I cannot be responsible for any being’s medical needs.]

The only problem with this remedy is that I needed to do it once a week. It was also the sort of application that requires washing off with soap. Therefore, the upshot was that I had to bathe the cow every week. And each session took about two hours to do.

Dear lord.

To add insult to injury, the fart always wanted to roll around on the terrace floor just after her bath. To avoid her wrecking two hours of manual labour in as many seconds, I used to dry her with a towel and a hair dryer set on low. During which, the lout had the ineffable cheek to fall asleep. She used to tire herself out by complaining incessantly about being bathed, and of course her royal highness needed her beauty sleep after.

I was usually a train wreck by the end of it all. Which is why I ended up drawing this:

Shwetu cartoonI am definitely no artist, but every time I see this, I want to laugh. She was such a pain, and yet such a darling.

Pulling a Fast One on the Fat One

During our time in Goa, my family and I lived in a three-storey row house. The topmost floor had the master bedroom and the terrace, the middle floor had the living room and a second bedroom, and the ground floor had the kitchen and dining room, and a small third bedroom.

Because my father was incredibly lazy, he chose to stay in the third bedroom. His logic was: no stairs. When my aunt moved in, she took the middle floor bedroom, because it made sense to her. Therefore I got the top bedroom.

Now, my dog loved me, so she occasionally came upstairs to say hi. But more than me, she loved the terrace. My dog pathologically hated closed doors in the house. If a door was closed, she was instantly miserable and wanted to be on the other side of it. Thankfully, the main door was exempt from this ridiculous diktat.

Like all dogs, my dog was obsessed with people coming in. If the doorbell rang, hell broke loose. She had a particularly shrill bark, which grated on everyone’s eardrums. She also insisted on being centre and front when the door opened, generally tripping people coming in or people going out without any compunction. Unlike other dogs, my dog was a badly behaved little lout, with a strong inclination for her own way all the time.

One afternoon, my dad was at work, and mum and I were hanging about in the kitchen. There was no one else in the house, so the top two floors were silent. Basically, there was no reason whatsoever for my dog to go upstairs.

Of course, that’s exactly what she did though.

My mum and I were a little amused to see the fat podge slowly ascending the stairs. One paw at a time, the small rotund body was rolling upwards. My mum called out to her: “Come down! Where do you think you are going?”

My dog stopped, looked disdainfully over her shoulder for a few second, and continued upwards.

Stifling laughter at this flagrant disobedience, which incidentally I would never have dared to pull on my mum, I called her too. I didn’t even merit the disdainful look. She continued upwards.

It became an ego issue. I kept calling, till my mother silenced me. “Wait. I have an idea,” she whispered. “Let the miserable cow get to the top floor.”

I waited. I had no idea what my mum was up to.

We heard her start upon the next set of stairs, and finally reach the top landing. My mother, with all the stealth of a ninja, carefully unlatched the front door, snaked her arm out, and rang the doorbell. And then quickly shut the door again.

The reaction was instantaneous.

My dog pelted down the stairs, barely allowing her paws to touch each step, crying with excitement. Someone was at the door! OMG OMG OMG.

She reached the ground floor, and ran to the door, preparing to bark her silly head off. Only to realise that there were no new smells. I could see the cogs turning in her head, while she tried to figure out how the doorbell rang but the expected outcome of new people and new smells was missing.

She looked back at me expectantly, and I obligingly opened the door for her. She gazed in consternation at the empty porch, as if to will someone to be there. I shut the door in front of her bemused face, and collapsed into a chair to laugh.

My mother was already crying with the effort of not to laugh, and her last thread of self control snapped when I started to laugh. My dog finally cottoned on that she had been played, played masterfully at that. She slunk into her basket, and refused to talk to us for a few hours after.

100% worth it.


One of the things I miss most about my dog is her constant need for cuddles. And because she was a roly-poly little tub, she was an awesome snuggle buddy.

One evening, my parents and I decided to drive down to Miramar chowpatty in Goa, to have shawarmas and kathi rolls. [We were non-vegetarians back then.] We piled into the car, dog in tow. She loved these short outings in our little car.

Because madam was a short cocker spaniel, she needed to sit on me to see out the window. So sit on me, she did. But she soon got fed up, and waddled off to the other side.

We had our kathi rolls and stopped for ice cream on the way back. I was pleasantly drowsy, and had snuggled into a corner of the seat to drift into a semi-slumber. Turns out, little miss fatso also had the same idea.

Only, the car seat wasn’t the most comfortable for the furry brat. Oh no. So she clambered into my lap, one paw at a time, tucked her snout into the crook of my arm, curled her legs into my abdomen, wedged her bottom into my other arm, and went off to sleep.

I looked on in a mix of awe, love, amazement, and happiness, as this little little being found her sanctuary in my arms. If I ever felt blessed in my life, that was the moment.

Anand and ShwetuAnd because I don’t have a picture of that moment, here is one of her using the French Student as a sofa. He loved it too.

Of Mice and Women

So, for the last few days, I’ve been sharing my living space with a mouse. And not just my mum, who I sometimes call a velvet mouse because she is soft and tiny, but an actual little mouse. Almost cute in its own way, but still managing to strike abject terror in our hearts.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had a visitor of the rodent family. The last time, it was the pivotal reason I became vegetarian. Killing a small animal, who is only looking to survive, with poison isn’t my idea of fun. And even now, if there was a humane way to rid my house of this mouse, I would take it. But I don’t have an option. Poison it has to be, because it is so tiny, traps are useless. In India, we only have those metal cages with wide bars. I saw this little guy disappear through a crack under the door; the mouse trap would be child’s play.

For now, we’ve got him barricaded in the kitchen. And he’s taken the poison slabs we put out. I suppose it is just a waiting game now.

In the interim, I found two old posts about mice and rats, which I realised are far funnier than my current, rather sombre one. So pasting them here for some laughs.

Mouse in my house

(Apologies for the title. I cannot for the love of anything compose decent titles. They usually come off as bad puns.)

I was right to fear coming to this miserable city (Mumbai – for those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter). (Have I said how much I love Twitter? I do. So much. Total awesomeness. On so many levels.) I came back yesterday to a house with inch-thick dust on everything, no food in the cabinets and, as I discovered later, a small very unwelcome visitor. The first two I could and did deal with, but the last one was a doozy. I have an all-abiding terror of all things small and rodent-like. I especially detest rats, although mice are cute from a long long (very very long) distance. They are like gerbils in a way, and I used to play with gerbils. (Not to cut to the end, but this is how I manage to stop shrieking hysterically.)

The mouse was playing (!) in the bathroom, jumping from one pipe to another in (what I considered) highly inappropriate glee. Not only was the little menace in my house uninvited, it was actually making merry too. Thank goodness my dog isn’t here – she would have made friends with it, I’m sure. She really is very silly.

I couldn’t stay out of the bathroom area for long, for obvious reasons. So I mustered up a little courage, armed to the back teeth with a broom and bug spray (my reaction to all unwelcome guests) and additional stimulus being provided in needing to use the afore-mentioned facilities, I slowly approached the door.

In a most dramatic way, I slowly slid the bolt, and opened the door by an infinitesimal crack. I peered in, hoping to see it so I could remove it altogether, and praying devoutly that it had already disappeared.

Prayers were answered. It had gone. Where – I don’t know. Will it come back – I don’t know. Where it came from – I don’t know. Do I tremble every time I go in, and jump with fright at the merest brush – Absolutely.

And another:

Out you get!

Ever had a rat in the house? I have, repeatedly. Ok, that was an exaggeration, it was 3 times. But being a delicate female (LOL), I am terrified of the rodents (this part is true). The first two times, I was really very traumatized, well, too shaken up to laugh about it at any rate. The third time however, my funny bone came to my rescue.

My mom and I had just returned from Pune, and we indulging in the very pleasurable task of cleaning up. We were in the process of dusting the bedroom. We split the room in half and started from either end. I decided to leave the pile of suitcases to the last, thinking that it was the most painful to clean so we could tackle that later. Thank God!

We started pulling away each suitcase, to clean them. Till just the cartons with my mother’s fabric samples were left. Then we saw ominous signs of rodent infestation; there were scraps everywhere. Holy crap, we groaned, we had another rat. My mother, usually the most pessimistic about things like this, confidently announced that the rat must have departed. I, with very little knowledge about the furry monsters, agreed thankfully.

She was about to move the carton to inspect the damage, when I pulled her back. Can you hear that, I demanded in a sibilant whisper. Shit! It’s still in the carton. We looked at each other in dismay, and proceeded to empty out the room. We barricaded the other doors and left the balcony door open.

Then, armed with insect spray and long-handled brooms, we gingerly advanced toward the solitary object in the room. And my mother pushed it aside with her broom, and the rat promptly ran straight toward yours truly. Who in turn, let out a maidenly shriek of fright, and proceeded to gas it with mosquito killer. Exactly. See why my funny bone kicked in?

The rat, not a whit harmed by the noxious stuff, ran under the bed. I meanwhile spluttering thanks to the gas, hopped off the floor onto the bed dizzily. We sat back to back, watching the floor. The rest was pretty boring, since we spent an hour on our perches knocking and tapping on every conceivable surface, trying to get the rat out. Finally, after running under the cupboard, then up it, then down it, it finally decided to leave us, and exited through the balcony.

We shut the door hurriedly and proceeded to do a war dance around the beds.

Three Years & Many Tears Later

Three years ago today I lost my dog. However, rather than focus on how I lost her and relive those painful memories, I thought I dredge up an old blog post about a morning spent in her company.

img_0004My darling little fatso; I miss you more every day. Love you always.

Take that, Dog

Last night I decided that today needed to be a new start. I had gotten into the habit of sleeping very late, getting up mid-morning (at 8) and therefore getting into work really late. As a natural consequence, I have started staying in the office till 8 – by which time it is crawling with lizards, and my nerves are frayed to breaking point. So I decided to get up early, so I went to bed at 10:30 last night.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I woke up, bright and shiny, only to realise that I needed to let the dog out before I could water the terrace plants. I padded down to the parents’ room, and saw one small black nose emerging from under a pile of blankets. Quelle surprise.

I prodded. Poked. Hissed. Whispered. Shook. All to no avail – she didn’t even open her eyes. I shall but glance briefly on the sonorous yet rhythmic noise emanating from her throat. The pain just wasn’t waking up.

Finally I ripped the blankets off her, only to be rewarded with the flicker of opening eyelids and the blissful cessation of afore-mentioned noise – which was promptly replaced with a warning growl.

To which I raised an eyebrow, and lugged her off the bed. And dumped her (carefully) on the floor. And grinned.

Hustled a protesting cocker spaniel up two flights of stairs and ushered her out into the dewy morning outside.

Take that, dog, for waking me up at the odd hours of morning just to be let out, and then do nothing while I sleepily prop myself against the door-jamb. The number of times I have hauled my butt out of my cosy bed to lift her sorry bottom onto my bed, only to have her curl up on the very spot I have just vacated, because it is the warmest. The innumerable occasions where I have woken because a freezing nose was shoved into my neck, demanding cuddles and covers – and then subsequently reawakening shivering, only to realise the dog has appropriated all the blankets and I am left with nary a stitch of blanket.

Revenge is sweet.


Tipping the Scales

In my current trend of thought, with weight and weight loss fixed in my mind, I remembered an incident with my dog a few years ago.

I had taken her to the vet, because she had developed a rash all over her skin. It hadn’t hampered her lifestyle in any way, except she was itching continuously. She was still an obnoxious little git who demanded her way through the day.

The prevailing theory in my house was that the rash was caused by the infection that abounds in India, thanks to dirty roads and surroundings. So, rather than let her highness walk the short distance from the car to the clinic, I carried her in. She loved this treatment because, in spite of her in-house bravado, she was a timid thing.

After catching my breath, we went in to see the vet. I liked him a lot, because he really cared for his patients. On occasion, I’ve seen him eviscerate owners whose pets looked like they experienced neglect, and thus we got along famously: our love for animals over humans creating a bond.

He examined her really quickly, and determined that the rash originated from an infection in her ears [which was already undergoing treatment]. Thus, the normal skin creams I had been using were having no effect. He would give her an antibiotic intravenously, and the rash would clear up in a jiffy.

He asked me to place her on the weighing scale, so that he could measure out the correct amount of medicine. [As an aside, I didn’t know this was standard practice till I met this vet. All the other vets were so incompetent, they never bothered to weigh her.] I plonked her on the scales, and it registered at an even 20 kilos.

The vet turned to me, as I stood there with pride writ large on my face, and said, “You do know that 10 kilos is the ideal weight for this breed, right?”