The Yellow Shirt

I was scrolling through old photos stored on my laptop, as I am wont to do on occasion, and I came across a picture of my dad in his Yellow Shirt. [Yes, capital Y and capital S.] Although this story is oft-repeated in my family, I don’t think I’ve ever written it out here.

It all started when my mom bought me an over-sized lemon yellow shirt from a shop in our building. The shop’s name was Safwa [can’t believe I still remember this!] and she had paired it off with a denim divided miniskirt. I used to practically live in miniskirts, seeing as it was Dubai and there was none of the staring that is so prevalent in India.

Anyway, I loved that yellow shirt. It was cotton-linen and super comfortable. Plus, paired with the skirt, it made my legs look amazing. As a teenager, this was a very important criterion.

However, most unexpectedly, my father also took a shine to that shirt. What was a loose, baggy look on me, fit him perfectly. And I kid you not, he pinched that shirt all the time. If I wanted to wear it, it was usually in the wash after he had worn it, or he was actually in the shirt at the time. Being an uncharitable teen, obviously this bugged me no end. But because it was my dad, I let him get away with it, mostly confining my displeasure to half-hearted grumbling. To which he would reply: “It is my yellow shirt. You can’t borrow it.” My mother, wisely, mostly stayed out of the fray, although she did tell him off a couple of times.

It was a fun thing.

A year or so later, the shirt had been worn to death. Multiple trips to the laundry had reduced the colour and crispness considerably, and it was a limp and pale version of its former self. Which is when my dear old dad decided to “return” it to me: “Here. You can have your yellow shirt back now. I don’t want it any more.”

Cheeky devil. Of course he didn’t want it any more; it was faded and pale and looked like it would collapse any second. Harrumph. But he so loved the colour that we were thereafter perennially on the lookout for a replacement for him. The funny thing about my original yellow shirt was that it was meant to be an over-sized WOMEN’S shirt. This time around, we looked in menswear departments.

Years passed, and we finally found a pure linen one in Mumbai. It was the right colour, and my father pounced on it when we brought it home. He was so thrilled. And then proceeded to wear it out even more thoroughly than the first one, till one day we had to cut it loose. It had done its duty. This was some time during our stay in Goa.

In the interim, my aunt tried [and failed] to buy yellow shirts for him. She has, um, questionable taste in clothes, and couldn’t seem to zero in on the right colour, shape, or size. He didn’t like anything she bought, and the pile of rejected yellow shirts languished miserably in a corner of his cupboard.

Then we moved back to Mumbai, and I was occasionally inveigled into going shopping at Phoenix Mills in Lower Parel. One time, the four of us [mom, dad, the ex, and I] were traipsing through the mall, tuckered out by that point, when I passed by a Cottonworld store.

Seeing that much of their wares were in pastels, I asked my family to wait outside while I nipped in to check whether they had lemon yellow shirts. [By this time, finding the shirt had taken on quest-like proportions.] They did.

I ran back outside, and dragged my family back in. We excitedly bought a shirt that Dad LOVED. [And mom also picked out a white linen shirt for the ex, because: “How can I buy only for dad, and not for him?!” *rolls eyes*]

My father was ecstatic with the shirt. He wore it the very next day, to Matunga market. The same market where he decided to have a spot of lunch. South Indian lunch, to be specific. Dosa, chutney, and sambar to be ultra-specific. Sambar, which he then proceeded to spill on his brand new, much coveted, eternally longed-for yellow shirt.

I got home from work that day, and was greeted by an extremely sheepish father and a half-exasperated, half-amused mother. And the yellow shirt with a large orangey-brown stain down the front.

I’m with my mother on this one. Sigh. Groan. Giggle.


Perfection Time Capsule

I slowly want to reincorporate my old blog into this one, a few posts at a time. Here is one I found of a sunny morning in Goa, with my favourite people in the world.

I love my job (not the working culture, the nincompoops I deal with or the lack of process – but the actual JOB) but I do look forward to the occasional day off. I say ‘occasional’ because I rarely get a Sunday completely to myself at home, regardless of good intentions. Today started off on an awesome note, and I really hope the awesomeness continues into the day/week/month/year.

1. Got up late this morning. (8:45 am, in case anyone was wondering)

2. Crawled out of bed and padded my way two flights of stairs, to see mom still cuddled up under the covers with the cocker spaniel, and dad just disappearing into the bathroom. Mom was complaining bitterly that he woke up and therefore she now feels guilty about lolling around. I, of course, felt no such guilt and promptly jumped into my dad’s spot for a quick snooze. Bliss.

3. Cocker spaniel had other plans, and therefore decided that since my face was accessible to her, she must give it a thorough washing. She was unceremoniously shoved away, and dragged into mom’s arms for a cuddle. Happy me, happy mom and happy dog.

4. Dad comes out of the bathroom, and mom gets up grumbling. I ignore all such happenings, and the dog escapes from mom’s clutches to come and snuggle against my face. My face is now full of soft cocker spaniel fur. Love it.

5. Surface about 5 minutes later and hug father, amidst loud complaints that it is HIS room and HIS bed and she is HIS wife, and what right did I have to come in the middle? Smile seraphically at annoying father and amble into the cold to play with gambolling puppies. Heaven.

6. Play with puppies for a few minutes, and then get into long chat with neighbour about said puppies, my newspaper, the Hanuman chalisa and various other issues. Fun.

7. Amble back into the house, only to find father has disappeared to get milk and bread from the shops. Hinder mother’s bed-making by jumping on half-made bed and encouraging cocker spaniel to do so as well. Then proceed to complain loudly as both of us are thrown out of the bedroom and the door is locked behind us.

8. Dance around the kitchen to cheesy Bollywood tunes blaring from the kitchen speakers. Yes, we have speakers in the kitchen. No, I will not explain. Yes, I can be bribed to explain.

9. Get handed some more work by the father. Demand exorbitant payment to do said work. Get backed up by tiny mother. Outnumber father. Girlie power, yay.

A number of my perfect moments feature my parents and my dog. Unsurprising, really.

A Very Good Morning

One of my favourite parts of waking up each morning, back when we were living in Goa, was coming downstairs to be greeted by my dog.

I slept on the topmost floor, whereas her highness snuggled with my parents on the ground floor. Her bowls and basket were there too, so I reckon that had a part to play in her choice. There were times she came up to my room to snuggle with me, but those were few and far between.

Because our floors are tiled, we all wore slippers indoors. Mine are particularly loud, since they are made of hard rubber. They slap noisily against each stair, as I descended them every morning. My mum later told me that once she heard my steps, my dog rushed from wherever she was, and plonked herself at the foot of the stairs, staring upwards.

I used to come straight down to the kitchen, where all the action took place every morning. Of course my parents were always up before me, so they were invariably bustling about. The first thing I saw though was my dog waiting for me.

As I came into view, she used to get impatient. And her way of displaying impatience was to shift from one front paw to another. I don’t think she even realised she did that. It was adorable.

I reached the bottom stair, and madam raised herself off her haunches and put her front paws on my thighs. I used to put my arms around her body, sinking slowly to the floor in a crouch. Her paws used to slide around my waist, so she first sank to her haunches again, and then lifted her paws to my chest. I hugged her, as she licked whatever bits of my face and neck she could reach.

It was the very best part of my morning, and my whole world shrunk to her in that moment. My mum used to get fairly annoyed, because she was usually trying to get my attention, but I was far too absorbed in my dog. Unrepentantly so, I might add.

There are many reasons why those moments were so precious, especially now that my dog is no more, but at the time, she was a pricey git, and I used to crave her attention. Each morning, affection and attention was willingly bestowed upon me, and me, the peasant, gratefully accepted.


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.

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.