To my dead Cat

Chunky, my dear pet.
(Oh how you hated the vet!)

You were but a week or two,
when Mom found you,
licking the cauldron of ghee
in adorable kittenish glee…

Before you, I never had a ‘real’ pet
All came, and went away or were sent away pat * 🙁
But you were different
Oh you were so adamant!

To you, I was introduced –
when I came back from the tuition. Boy, I was so very deuced!
You were hiding in the farthest corner under the ‘computer room’s’ bed,
Oh hello, little one…I bent and said.

All squiggly and wiggly, you walked to me.
As I sat down, you purred and circled me.
You were so delicate, but boy, did your purring motor race!
For the first time in my life…a fur-ball had me scare(d)!

They let me keep you,
rather, they themselves kept you!
You were soon family,
The house’s youngest member, officially!

Then you unleashed your childhood.
You were a fussy eater – miss puss-in-boots.
Milk, you drank.
From bread, you shrank.
Buttermilk, sometimes.
The shake incidence, we still narrate at family story times!****

In the living room, you had your own cat-home.
A large metal cage, with a pretty dome.
By the day, the grounds you’d roam,
at night, you had no choice, but to stay home.

Then the hunter in you showed up.
At your sight, the birds would warily chirrup.
You chased insects, who did not heed you at all
One bit your nose. Since then, you ran at the sight of all!

You left behind your childhood garb goofy,
and after teenage, you turned into a celebrated beauty.
You made me an insecure Mom,
when you went out with that tall-dark-handsome Tom!

I soon realized there’s more than food in your tummy,
My God! My li’l Chunky was now a soon-to-be Mummy!
You rested in my lap,
And I watched you nap…

Days went by, and that summer, we had new babies,
I am thankful, you didn’t make me change their nappies 😛
What a joy it was, to see you transform –
from a helpless kitten, to a hands-on cat-Mom.

The rest, my dear, is history.
Far and wide, you and your clan spread your glory.
One day, just like you had appeared,
you disappeared.

I never had a chance,
to give you another glance.
Our meetings had become so rare,
after I was off to College, I had little home-time to spare.

I knew you were gone,
but my heart would have of that none.
You met me in my dreams,
leaving clues, muffled screams…

Of where you’d be,
Of where I should see…
Were you in your old spots where you’d hide
as a kitten, when you didn’t want to be grounded at night?
Speak to me,
I want to rescue you, my child…

And then I woke up,
all shaken up.
I was positive you were in danger,
and I could do nothing but hanker.

One day, you met me in dreams again,
we were at home, and you came hopping in like a mad man.
I screamed. This time with joy,
Come ‘ere, that’s my dear boy!

You played with me, to both our heart’s content,
that’s when I realised, you still seemed distant.
Almost heavenly.
That’s when it hit me.
The way you looked at me,
Even in my dreams, I knew, this is the last I’d see.
Of you, my dear Chunky,
you dear dear cat spunky.

You bid me adieu,
didn’t you?
‘Cos since then,
I haven’t seen you.

Not even in my dreams…
And now, there are no silent screams.
Looks like you’ve found your peace.
Although you were never the one for it, you tease!

Last week, I saw a movie,**
in which there was a playful doggie.
He came back to meet his human friend,
After 50+ years end…

Somehow I know you, you dead cat.
You are planning something…tell me what you’re at!
Are you gonna come back to me, when I am tired and old,
to meet ‘him’ too? He was there, back then too you know – why, that’d be gold!***

If you’d only say, and oh if you’d said it sooner,
I’d have spared that emotional shower,
when I cried my heart out, a year after you did disappear…
Yeah, I took my time until you told me that you’re dead, you heart-breaker 🙂

Now be a gem, and say you’ll be back, even if it’s for the rat(s)!
You nut, you crazy crazy whippersnapper, you smug li’l brat!

* We had a lot of rescue kittens, dogs and birds. We nursed them and set them free wherever they were found. So we had a lot of animals over, but they never stayed as pets.
** A dog’s purpose
*** Reference from A Dog’s Purpose : Ethan’s girlfriend had met Bailey, his Red Retriever dog. After reincarnation, the trio meet again. When Chunky came to live with us, Abhijeet was in town too! He hasn’t met her though. Till now that is… 😛 Ok, I am not crazy, I am just trying to make this poem as good a tearjerker as the movie.
**** Quite a story…saving it for other times…
So this is how 2 week old kittens look. Chunky was found exactly at this age –

Why Everest Base Camp Trek should be on your travel wishlist in 2017!

I have the soul of an adventurer. The sea beckons me and mountains allure me.

As I am not a swimmer yet, mountains interest me more. I come alive on treks. I know basic rock climbing and rappeling.

In routine life, I may come across as apprehensive – doubting my skills, decisions, and efforts that I put in a particular field. Not in mountaineering.

In my negligible experience, I have found myself to be the most agile and fearless in the group.

My mountaineering Coach asked me if I was afraid when I was getting ready for the first ‘real’ rappelling experience off a cliff in Nainital. A 16-year old me looked into his eyes and answered, “Sir, humaari dictionary me darr shabd hi nahi hai.” (My dictionary does not have the word fear.)

While the other girls cried, some bailed out, I was calm as a cucumber – having full faith in my harness and the wall training that we did the day before. There was a flicker of apprehension when I fixed myself in the 45-degree position at the start, but it vanished as I took my first leap. I still remember the adrenaline rush I felt.

Rappelling at Nainital (2002). Click to enlarge.

 

My mountaineering ambitions did not come to fruition. However, then onwards I tried to climb any creviced wall or rocks that came in my way. I still do 🙂

Last year, we went to Manali in May. Our guide took us to a place called Gulaba to see the remains of the meager snow that the valley had seen in 2016. I and the better half trekked for 10000 foot-steps vertically and back (so my iPhone says), exploring the trickling glacier streams, the stray ice patches and marveling at the distant snow covered peaks.

The husband caught on my mountaineering vibe and strode ahead decisively up the rocky track that a very few people were taking. I had no option, but to follow him and delicately stop him in his tracks. There, we shot my first attempt at video blogging :

Caution : If you are not experienced with snow, do not wander alone on snow covered mountains. Snow is extremely slippery and it will take you no time to tumble down the same ‘un-snow covered’ slope that you spent hours climbing! We learned this when we abandoned our trek just after the video, and went back to a small ice patch along the road shown in the video.

In case you were wondering if we found snow, this is what we found…

 

 

In any activity that you take up, your efforts are always towards the highest goal that you can achieve in the field. In case of mountaineering, taming the Mt.Everest is the dream culmination of every mountain climber’s aspirations.

The Everest Base Camp prepares you just for that. Even if you are not as serious as a professional mountain climber, at 17,950 Ft. the Everest Base Camp gives you a measurable high (no pun intended).

What is the Everest Base Camp?

In the beautiful land of Nepal, stands the highest mountain in the world – The Mount Everest. (I will not mention that the Chinese share the border across its summit.) Named after the Welsh Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest, the mountain has several local names; the most prominent being – Sagarmatha (Nepal) and Chomolungma (China/Tibet).

You can climb the gigantic girth from either China occupied Tibet or Nepal. The most popular approach is from South-East Nepal – which I am going to talk about.

The whole trip takes anywhere from 13-17 days, detailed packages for which are available on Mojhi.com.


The rough itinerary provided by every trip vendors looks like this

      1. Land at Kathmandu
      2. Travel to Lukla
      3. Walk to Phakding
        4. Trek to Namche Bazaar (Enter the Sagarmatha National Park)
        5. Begin the actual leg of trekking towards the

Everest Base Camp

        6. Reach the

Everest Base Camp

       and begin downwards trek towards Lukla.
      7. Lukla to Kathmandu

Each travel operator takes different times for stay at each of these places, according to the needs of the travelers to explore the local culture, get acclimatized to the weather and pressure, and their stamina to trek at a stretch.

Things to look out for when choosing a trip operator (vendor) 

        1. Nepal Government Certified Guides (Sherpas)
        2. Number of porters per client
        3. Is food included in the package?
        4. Does the tour operator take care of all the necessary permits required?

Generally, the group size of 2-15 is taken at a time, with the average group size being 5. It is advisable to ask for group discounts while booking.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of finding the right tour operator for your Everest Base Camp Trek, you can take help of Mojhi.com. For the first time traveler and even experienced ones, Mojhi.com offers a plethora of tried and tested tour operators, whose itineraries you can check, contact them and even get feedback from an experienced traveler community which is an integral part of the website.

What’s more? You can even become a member and share your own experiences about a place or tour operator.

Not only for the Everest Base Camp, for other adventure and leisure travels too, Mojhi.com is the place to find the most sound travel advice.

I have started saving for my Everest Base Camp trek. I hope my thrilling accounts of trekking and what awaits you at the Everest Base Camp have motivated you enough to take on the ‘quest’ too in 2017!

Please let me know what your travel plans are for this year, in the comments.

Pendulum

This post is written for A prompt each day’s Prompt 60 – Fotowrite #5

broken_by_shail_mohan
Image Source (Attributes): Broken, Photography by Shail Mohan

He stood there for a minute.

His wife had already rushed inside the main gate, and was now safely under the stately porch of the towering building. She did not want their son to get viral fever due to the drizzling. The watchman was getting the luggage unloaded.

He still stood there. Looking at his feet. They were so big now. There was a time when his foot fit right in the grill.

He wanted to smile, remembering swinging from the gate to-and-fro waiting for Papa to come home in the evening. But no smile came. Hey, THIS wasn’t the same…

Agree, this towering building was what he had dreamt of living in – during the days when random strangers would come right inside the garden unlatching the gate themselves, asking for his Papa. They had a convenience store and the bungalow. People would often come home in the evenings even after the shop had closed, to ask for random stuff like gehu or daal and his Papa gave it to them without complaints.

“We don’t have holidays in our profession son. And work never ends. Besides what is the effort in giving a few kgs from bags stored at home,” he used to say.

He did not like this. They had no holidays. So they had no vacation.

He spent his summer vacations swinging from this gate. There were so many nuances to that. Going straight to the wall inward from the left side, jumping to the right one just as the left one rebounded back to its position and then swinging the right one outwards. Sometimes climbing right to the top while the gate was swinging and jumping on the wall. That required skill, you know! The neighbour kid Gura got 2 stitches on the eye-brow having fallen from the wall in the process. He also had his share of falls. But the gate was kind to him. He usually fell only in the monsoons.

He continued to swing from the gate even in his teens. People laughed at him. Papa chided him. “You are grown-up now, Beta. Stop this childishness.”

Little did everyone know, this was his thinking spot. He did not only swing from the gate. He deliberated on his ideas. Ideas of climbing the rungs of the financial ladder just as he did the diagonal rung of the gate. He memorised his trigonometric formulae there. So much so that beside eating, sleeping and school – he was always at this very spot. Well, twice in a swing cycle.

If the formula for pendulum hadn’t been discovered by then, he would surely have been the one to derive the famous equation. b3129742fed41e2f6d2e6962c78a3cdc

Image source : Wiki
Image source : Wiki

He did not derive it, but he did something which propelled him into the outside world from the pendulum-like swinging of the gate. He cracked the IIT entrance. All by himself.

He landed a plum job in the Silicon Valley in the IT boom period. Meanwhile the town grew into a city. He could notice several new faces on the way home when he came back for the first time. The gate was good then. Rusty at the hinges, but still holding strong.

His father was waiting for him with two proposals. One was for marriage to a girl his friend had suggested and another to sell their bungalow to build a 21 storey tower where the bungalow stood then. He agreed to both.

The girl was affable, he could talk to her, he could laugh with her. That is all he wanted, he did not need to think. It was love at first meet!

He was surprised over how much time he took for the other decision. He took a month – evaluating his own career prospects vis-a-vis the prospects of earning from the building. But he knew he was deceiving himself. The main reason he did not want the old bungalow gone was because he could not bear the thought of having to let the creaky gate go!

He finally agreed. His father had shut shop by then. The builder was an old friend of Papa’s who kept his end of the bargain and gave them the penthouse to live in, when the building was completed.

When he came back, 3 years later, he had it all. In the U.S.

Papa had refused to come to the States, ‘cos he liked it here. He had seen the building plans and the pictures, but nothing had prepared him for such a magnificent structure which stood where his bungalow was. The new entrance was around the turn, so the old gate stood where it was. It was the rear gate now, only watchmen and casual loiterers used it to exit in the dark single-road lane, which was quite a buzzing lane in its hey days. He had made the car stop there, and got off, leaving his wife puzzled.

He was still looking at his feet. He lifted his right foot to the first gap of the grill. The end of his toes barely got through. He shook his head at the futility of even trying it. But then his eyes went a little forward. And twinkled. The *#%@$^* gate had broken itself for him!!

There was a missing rod in it. Within a second, he put his foot in the gap, and pushed the gate. It went forth and rebounded and just as it neared the wall, he fell in the mud puddle which formed under due to the incessant drizzling since days.

She noticed it, handed their son to Papa, who had just come downstairs on being told by the watchman, and started walking in an agitated pace out of the main gate towards the old gate. She was muttering something under her breath, Papa was busy pacifying the baby. And he lay in the puddle with eyes closed. Even the hair soaked now.

She came there, Jimmy Choo sandals in hand (to save them from being ruined by the mud, not what you think!). “What are you doing? You got this 3 piece custom made! Why did your friend have to get married the day we land here?! Why did you have to swing at this ungodly hour?! And how can you slip? They’re leather shoes!”

But he did not listen. He was just listening to the harmonious creaking of the pendulum. He held her hand, which she had held up for him to get up – other still clutching the Jimmy Choos, and pulled her to the ground. The beautiful blue chanderi was now soaked in mud, as was its wearer. She looked at him in disbelief – one moment she was standing, the other she was lying in the mud puddle, beside him.

He looked mischievously in her eyes. “You think I slipped?”

 

Day 1 : 10 things that make you (me) really happy

This is a real easy prompt.

It takes very little to make me happy.

  1. Cloud patterns
    When I am really sad or just plain saturated, I look at the sky. The cloud patterns at any time of the day remind me of the vastness of life. They are instant mood elevators.
  2. Twilight in solitude
    Continuing from the above, I like to be alone when the first star appears in the evening; the onset of twilight. It makes me all tranquil and happy.
  3. A rose from him
    IMG_20140307_104955 (1)
    In 2007, when Mukesh Ambani bought a jet for his wife, hostel friends were discussing what kind of gifts they would like from their future husbands. I used to say that even a single rose gifted by the special someone will bring a huge smile to my face. That is the only gift I would expect him to give me. And lo behold, the first ever gift (of his own accord) that Abhijeet gave me before our engagement, was a single red rose! Even now, after years, whenever he brings a rose for me, it makes me feel like the happiest girl in the universe.
  4. Cats
    Real or virtual, friendly or distant – cats of all sorts make me happy, as if I am a kid all over again.
  5. Movies that hold special meaning for me
    There are some movies of which I am very possessive. Border, Chupke chupke, Sarfarosh, Hazaaron khwaishen aisi, Dil chahta hai – to name a few. I can see such movies hundreds of times and still enjoy them like the first time I saw them. If I need a happiness booster, and the TV happens to be airing them, it is as pleasant a coincidence as it can be.
  6. Outdoor activities
    I am always game for some gully-cricket, garden badminton or a quick trek. If these activities are with a competitive person(s), it is all the more fun.
  7. Writing
    Although I am a big procrastinator when it comes to actually putting down my thoughts on paper, I am at my happiest best when I am writing. It is akin to a state of complete freedom from all the worldly worries- the Zen state. I wonder if I can call that being happy. 🙂
  8. Shopping
    I seldom spend much. But when I set out shopping, I spend substantially. The whole shopping activity infuses me with a kind of happiness one can only associate with a school kid getting new clothes and textbooks at the end of May. Be it anything – clothes, jewellery, stationery, home decor…etc.
  9. Day dreaming
    I day dream, like any writer would. My day dreams though are more focussed on improving the self. The kind of day dream where I have established a steady daily routine, my desktop and computer hard disk is free of junk files, my closet does not have any unnecessary clothes and I spend my time only on the activities which will help me further my creativity and fitness – is the ultimate ‘happy’ doze for me.
  10. Starting something new
    I have this philosophy that one should never ever settle down ‘ambition-wise’ after having a steady income, a decent home and a loving family with lifelong friends. That is the base of life, the building however has to be built on it with things that you start doing and gradually excel in. So when I start working on something I have always wanted to do, I feel a sudden rush of happiness which is like a kid heading to school on the first day. (Eh yes, I was one of those rare variety of kids who liked school and did not cry on the first day!)

Hum

HHum means ‘we’, ‘us’ in Hindi.

Hum is such an instant ice-breaker. Stuck in a long queue, be it for exam form submission or a government paperwork task, ‘hum’ has often bailed me out of boredom.

“Yaar, abb counter ek baje khulega. Chalo hum chai pi ke aate hain.” (Alas! The counter will re-open at 1 PM now. Let ‘us’ go have some tea.)

The next person, more often than not – a complete stranger, smiles at the genuine empathy and agrees. Sometimes these random acquaintances turn into good friendships.

With family and friends, hum has such strong vibes that the other person’s state of mind immediately stabilises (that is, if it is aggravated in the first place). When you comfort someone saying, “Koi baat nahi. Hum nikal lenge ye time bhi,” (Don’t worry. We’ll get through this phase also.) , it works wonders. And the effects are far more deep reaching than the genuine, I am so sorry. Hope you get through it.

Hum. In certain regions, hum is used in place of mai ( I ). It means a respectful address to the self and to the one you are addressing. For example, if you are speaking to someone older than you or senior to you in terms of position, you are supposed to use ‘hum’ – like “Sir, humne homework kiya hai.” (Sir, I have done my homework.) It is queer that in such places (like Lucknow) if you use ‘mai’, the colloquially used term form for ‘I’ – the person you are speaking to feels disrespected!

Think about it, when you use ‘hum’ for yourself, you immediately feel a certain support (maybe of your subconscious) and a hint of humility – as mai – the ‘I’ (which is perceived as one’s inner ego in our scriptures) dissolves. And it has such a pleasant ring to it 🙂

Chalo issi baat par hum aap se vida lete hain, doston! (On this note, I take your leave, friends!)

*hums* Hum honge kamayab, hum honge kamayab… (We shall overcome, we shall overcome…)

This post is a part of the April A-Z Challenge.