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Made My Day

MaximusIt had rained and muddy puddles greeted us everywhere last Saturday, when I was doing the usual doggie-baby-ma walking routine. Baby-ma was strapped on my back in her carrier and Maximus was pulling hard at the leash and ju
mpi
ng into every muddy puddle that he could spot….


And then there came a girl, who looked like she had stepped out of the covers of Vogue – very pretty, very chic and very elegant in her boots & thigh-length dress. And then there also came Maximus who splashed her thoroughly. I restrained the dog and gingerly moved upto her to offer an apology, when she bent down and patted Maximus. Baby-ma too popped her head out to see the reason for the halt. And that’s when the girl looked slowly at me, the kid, the dog and asked “You are just surrounded by cuteness aren’t you?”

garden1

In our family’s private circle of church friends and relatives, my grandfather Dr E.J.C.Job’s sprawling plot of land in Mandaveli was always referred to as the “Garden of Eden.” And indeed it was an overwhelmingly lush and green spot. My grandfather was such an enthusiastic, scientific gardener that if one were to call him a horticulturist it wouldn’t be far of the mark.

Another irony is that despite my grandfather’s deep love for the soil and all kinds of flora and fauna, he spent the majority of his life on the high seas as an Indian Naval doctor. It was only after his retirement as Surgeon Commander I.N.S that he was able to revel in his life-long passion for botany by converting his house into a veritable paradise.

If I remember right, we had 5 coconut trees, 2 jackfruit trees, 1 really top-of-the world alphonsa hybrid mango tree, a neem tree, two drumstick trees, stalks of banana in the backyard, papaya, Ram Sita (sugar apple), pumpkins and custard apple. We also had our own lime tree and I still love the fragrance of crushed lime leaves; even today while rambling through Russell’s market I can buy a whole cartload of lemons if I spot them with their leaves intact. We also had a sapota tree and one lovely nellikai/amla tree, which was nearly 2 stories high. My grandfather unfortunately cut it down later when he felt he couldn’t deal with the hordes of school boys descending on us and almost breaking their limbs in their quest for amlas.

My grandfather used to garden everyday – meticulously pruning, shaping, fertilizing and generally coaxing his wards into good health. He would also casually mention the scientific names of animals and plants as I followed him around the garden like Mary’s little lamb. For me if I can remember off-hand names like clitoria ternatea, Annona squamosa, Phyllanthus emblica (mixed up in my child’s mind as umbilical cord), Panthera leo, panthera tigris, Canis lupus, Felis catus – it can only be because like Enid Blyton I had in my grandfather a deep connoisseur of nature.

garden2My grandfather was also a strong believer in letting children learn for themselves. So when my 8 year old father got stuck climbing a mangosteen tree, my grandfather just casually told him to come down the same way he went up and walked off; even as my worried-sick grandmother hovered around shouting frantic instructions. My father finally plucked up enough courage to make the attempt and descended in safety. It was the same with me – when my grandfather told me not to climb the drumstick tree I didn’t heed his advice. Later when I had huge welts on my skin from coming into contact with the stem-boring caterpillars, which had made the drumstick tree their domain, he never told me “I told you so.” But there was a twinkle in his eye as he ministered to the swelling, which sealed our own private pact of discovery and growing up.

We also had a lot of flowering shrubs – white, magenta & violet december flowers, gundu malli, jaddi malli (jasmine), kangambaram (red & orange firecracker flower), fiery red roses, spreading vines of pink button roses, Idli poo (jungle geranium) and abundant bushes of Vadamalli. The Vadamalli was a plant that my grandfather had never fancied much, but then nature finds its own way; and this abundant crop had grown from the discarded garland of one of our dear departed relatives.

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Come March and we had the Easter lilies! The Easter lilies adorned the edge of the lawn facing our house and my grandmother used to faithfully cut them every Easter to occupy pride of place in our drawing room. And these Easter lilies were huge ones that were almost a hand span in diameter. Now I wonder if they were that huge as a result of my grandfather’s experiments as I’ve never come across any to rival them in terms of sheer size.

 Another lovely thing about the garden was that it was the pleasantest place to be in if my grandmother set me down to finish my embroidery or knitting exercise for the day. It used to be so pleasant to sit under the cool shade of the neem tree, with the wind tousling my hair and listening to the low hum of local gossip as our street watchmen gathered under it like me on the other side of the fence to take their afternoon siesta. Many of them used to also pluck the neem stems to use as toothbrush & toothpaste – such a healthy habit, which I never picked up because of the intense bitterness of neem.

Despite being a gardener, my grandfather never once resented the predatory and destructive activities of my cats and dogs. He always tolerated their mischief in the manner of Issac Newton and his dog; “O Diamond, Diamond, thou little knowest the mischief thou hast done.”

During the jasmine flowering season, the garden smelled heavenly with the smell of ripening mangoes, the jasmine and the sweet pink button roses (traditionally used to prepare attar).We used to string together the abundance of our garden flowers to adorn the heads of our care-cell members and my own unruly, tight oily plaits. I used to love this job and one of the few things I’m good  at it – is stringing flowers together with the speed and professional ease of the road-side flower girls!

My grandfather also loved his ferns, edible tubers (maravelli kizhangu, sakkaravalli kizhangu) & kitchen herbs (coriander, pudina). We also had plenty of medicinal plants too – like aloe vera, Kuppaimeni, Kathalai, Ceylon Spinach (that I really wished my grandmother didn’t include in her menu) and Manathakalli – it must be more than 10 years since I last had those wonderful berries, but I can still distinctly remember their taste.

garden3One of our maids Dhanam hailed from Vaniyambadi and was a farmer herself. She used to be thatha’s assistant in harvesting our sundakka trees (turkey berry), grafting the rose bushes, taking a burning torch to the caterpillars on the drumstick tree, etc. But she really came to life only with our coconut tree; she would painstakingly split the leaf stalkes down with her pocket knife and hem and haw at them till they produced nice, thick broom sticks, she would fashion kitchen scrubbers from the coconut matting and little monkey faces for me from the coconut husks.

I think for my grandparents it was a marriage made in heaven. They perfectly complimented each other in every way. Apart from their deep, abiding love for each other they were also very supportive of each other’s hobbies and interests. I can still remember how my grandfather even at the age of 70 would go clambering up a ladder with a long stick & wired net to pluck mangoes for my grandmother’s jams and pickles. My grandmother was an amazing cook, who used to produce the most dazzling array of pickles, chutneys, squashes, jams, relishes and alwa from the flood of fruits that used to descend on us with each passing season. There used to rows and rows of salted limes or mangoes laid out on clean white sheets on the terrace, on the balcony, on the window ledges, on the garage roof to be dried in the sun and later turned into bottled goodness.

Before the family’s finances permitted my grandfather to pursue his medicine, for nearly a year he studied at the local agricultural college. He was passionate about horticulture and was open-handed and generous with the efforts of his labour. Every visitor to our house – would leave with gunny bags brimming with coconuts, mangoes, jackfruit or whichever fruit was in season. For some of our friends – who were not country-born – there would be this big jackfruit-cutting session with oiled knives, newspapers and cordoning off of kids and dogs with grubby paws.

I think my grandfather’s garden was a testimony of his overflowing love for plants, animals, his family and his friends and it is with the fondest memories that I view these pictures of the halcyon days.

Husky1

I was recently very hurt, surprised and shocked, when I recently got ear-marked for dog abuse – all for the crime of owning a Siberian husky. At Pets Stepin where on occasions I’ve put up my husky for boarding – I’ve seen other huskies happy and playful and the “husky owners” treated with respect not contempt.

 

Now is it a crime to own a husky? Actually it is a crime to own any pedigree dog or mongrel – if one does not have the time, money or resources for the dog. Lately it has become a trend to claim “dog saintly-ness” because of the ownership of street dogs, while lambasting and rail-roading pedigree dog owners for their “snobishness”, “stupidity,” “callousness”, “cruelty,” “insensitivity” and general lack of research about “pedigree dog needs.”

 

Individual attacks on husky owners will not solve the problem of Siberian huskies being bred in the tropics. Or for that matter solve the problem of irresponsible breeding of any other breed. Do you think it is responsible to breed GSDs with super-sloping hind legs so that they cease to be the active working dogs, but become show-prize winners for extreme angulation? Do you think it is ethical to breed bulldogs and pugs so that they carry over their plethora of health problems to the next generation? Or do you think it is necessary to over-breed Golden Retrievers to the point where breeders in Bangalore are finding it difficult to locate homes for their 6 month-plus puppies?

Husky2

 

What about eco-friendly breeds? I think everyone will agree that we need to promote the breeding of our native dogs. As much as the Rajapalayam, Chippiparai, Kombai and Kanni are great dogs and ideally suited to the climate of most cities in India – there is the question – Are you the right owner for a hound? Most sight-hounds are one-man dogs, and I’ve known a Rajapalayam to pine away and die when its owner left it for two weeks to the U.S. Also without proper socialization and when under-exercised, Rajapalayams like Dobermanns can turn vicious.

 

Now, I think it would be near impossible to go up to each prospective husky owner and try and dissuade them from buying the breed. But what is possible is a social and political movement seeking to ban the breeding of huskies and other high-risk, high-maintenance dogs.

 

More serious than the husky (a gregarious, generous, child-loving soul) is the problem of breeding dogs that can turn vicious without an experienced handler. Dogs like the pit-bull terrior, Presa Canario, Neopolitan Mastiff, American bulldogs have actually killed or fatally injured people leading to their own deaths and outright bans in several countries.

Husky13

As individuals we can’t do anything about irresponsible breeding or the puppy mill. But the Kennel Club of India and the many animal welfare groups have the political clout and influence to get things done in the right direction. 

 

In India you cannot have a tiger in your bedroom like in the U.S. or organise hunting parties to shoot your pet big cats. We have a strong Wildlife Protection Act – that does not spare even celebrities. In the same vein, we can also try really hard to get a ban on the import and breeding of foreign dog breeds that might suffer in India!

 

Otherwise it is very difficult to resist the appeal of a Siberian husky. They are the most handsomest creatures in the dog kingdom. They also have a heart of gold and are extremely good with babies and children. They are friendly, playful and highly-intelligent on top of which they are too beautiful for their own good.

 

Shaming, name-calling, criticizing people won’t keep people away from huskies anymore than you can keep bees away from a honey pot. We need to a conscious movement towards more responsible breeding and adopting of all dogs

Husky3

Found this simply hilarious! So just had to share. You can read the full article @The Hindu.

TH21-EDIT-MODI_1726323f

Dear Shri. Mani Shankar Aiyar,

We know we need no introduction. And yet it may be useful to highlight some aspects of our reputation which you and others have been carelessly sullying in the run-up to the general elections. When Hillary and Tenzing scaled Mount Everest, imagine their chagrin when they found one of us had already set up shop there. When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon he almost forgot his lines “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, because he ran into one of us, and that was not part of the script. That is how ubiquitous we are. It takes a lot of enterprise and hard work to be that.

It is, therefore, a matter of deep dismay and hurt, in fact a crisis of identity, for us when you and others like you mention Modi and us in the same breath, or mention the one and mean the other.

Let us make this very clear. Modi may or may not have what it takes to become the prime minister. But he certainly doesn’t have what it takes to be a tea seller -

A satire in the form of an open letter by Sashi Kumar, columnist and Chairman, Asian College of Journalism

 

 

Friends and well wishers staged this candle light vigil for slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge on Jan 9, 2014, at the very same spot in Attidiya, a suburb of Colombo, where he was shot dead. Five years after the high-profile assassination, Sri Lankan authorities are yet to bring the perpetrator/s to justice. AFP photo chief in Sri Lanka, Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, captured this image:

in memory

Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge (1958 – 2009)

Rape culture!

(Re-blogged from the talented http://boudiccasrevenge.tumblr.com)

Rape culture

Rape culture

Rape culture is when I was six, and

my brother punched my two front teeth out.
Instead of reprimanding him, my mother
said “Stefanie, what did you do to provoke him?”
When my only defense was my
mother whispering in my ear, “Honey, ignore him.
Don’t rile him up. He just wants a reaction.”
As if it was my sole purpose, the reason
six-year-old me existed,
was to not rile up my brother.
It’s starts when we’re six, and ends
when we grow up assuming the natural state of a man
is a predator, and I must walk on eggshells, as to
not “rile him up.” Right, mom?

Rape culture is when through casual dinner conversation,
my father says that women who get raped are asking for it.
He says, “I see them on the streets of New York City,
with their short skirts and heavy makeup. Asking for it.”
When I used to be my father’s hero but
will he think I was asking for it? (will he think)
Will he think I deserved it?
Will he hold me accountable or will he hold me,
even though the touch of a man – especially my father’s -
burns as if I were holding the sun in the palm of my hand.

Rape culture is you were so ashamed, you thought it would
be easier for your parents to find you dead,
than to say, “Hey mom and dad,”
It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for it.
I never asked for this attention, I never asked
to be a target, to be weak because I was born with
two X chromosomes, to walk in fear, to always look behind me,
in front of me, next to me, I never asked to be the prey.
I never wanted to spend my life being something
someone feasts upon, a meal for the eternally starved.
I do not want to hear about the way I taste anymore.
I will not let you eat me alive.

Rape culture is I shouldn’t defend my friend when
an overaggressive frat boy has his hand on her ass,
because standing up for her body “makes me a target.”
Women are afraid to speak up, because
they fear their own lives – but I’d rather take the hit
than live in a culture of silence.
I am told that I will always be the victim, pre-determined
by the DNA in my weaker, softer body.
I have birthing hips, not a fighter’s stance.
I am genetically pre-dispositioned to lose every time.

Rape culture is he was probably abused as a child.
When he even has some form of a justification
and all I have are the things that provoked him,
and the scars from his touch are woven of the darkest
and toughest strings, underneath the layer of my skin.
Rape culture leaves me finding pieces of him left inside of me.
A bone of his elbow. The cap of his knee.
There is something so daunting in the way that I know it will take
me years to methodically extract him from my body.
And that twinge I will get sometimes in my arm fifteen years later?
Proof of the past.
Like a tattoo I didn’t ask for.
Somehow I am permanently inked.

Rape culture is you can’t wear that outfit anymore
without feeling dirty, without feeling like
you somehow earned it.
You will feel like you are walking on knives,
every time you wear the shoes
you smashed his nose in with.
Imaginary blood on the bottom of your heels,
thinking, maybe this will heal me.
Those shoes are your freedom,
But the remains of a life long fight.
You will always carry your heart,
your passion, your absolute will to live,
but also the shame and the guilt and the pain.
I saved myself but I still feel like I’m walking on knives.

Rape culture is “Stefanie, you weren’t really raped, you were
one of the lucky ones.”
Because my body wasn’t penetrated by a penis,
but fingers instead, that I should feel lucky.
I should get on my hands and knees and say, thank you.
Thank you for being so kind.
Rape culture is “things could have been worse.”
“It’s been a month, Stefanie. Get out of bed.”
“You’ll have to get over this eventually.”
“Don’t let it ruin your life.”
Rape culture is he told you that after he touched you,
no one would ever want you again.
And you believed him.

Rape culture is telling your daughters not to get raped,
instead of teaching your sons how to treat all women.
That sex is not a right. You are not entitled to this.
The worst possible thing you can call a woman is a
slut, a whore, a bitch.
The worst possible thing you can call a man is a
bitch, a pussy, a girl.
The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl.
The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl.
Being a woman is the ultimate rejection,
the ultimate dismissal of strength and power, the
absolute insult.
When I have a daughter,
I will tell her that she is not
an insult.

When I have a daughter, she will know how to fight.
I will look at her like the sun when she comes home
with anger in her fists.
Because we are human beings and we do not
always have to take what we are given.
They all tell her not to fight fire with fire,
but that is only because they are afraid of her flames.
I will teach her the value of the word “no” so that
when she hears it, she will not question it.
My daughter,
Don’t you dare apologize for the fierce love
you have for yourself
and the lengths you go to preserve it.

My daughter,
I am alive because of the fierce love I have
for myself, and because my father taught me
to protect that.
He taught me that sometimes, I have to do
my own bit of saving, pick myself off the
ground and wipe the dirt off my face,
because at the end of the day,
there is only me.
I am alive because my mother taught me
to love myself.
She taught me that I am an enigma – a
mystery, a paradox, an unfinished masterpiece and
I must love myself enough to see how I turn out.
I am alive because even beaten, voiceless, and back
against the wall, I knew there was an ounce of me
worth fighting for.
And for that, I thank my parents.

Instead of teaching my daughter to cover herself up,
I will show her how to be exposed.
Because no is not “convince me”.
No is not “I want it”.
You call me,
“Little lady, pretty girl, beautiful woman.”
But I am not any of these things for you.
I am exploding light,
my daughter will be exploding light,
and you,
better cover your eyes.

nmodi1

We at the Mad Hatter Times are proud to announce to the world that PM-candidate Mr Narendra Modi has decided to don sheep’s clothing. After a Gujarat court upheld a clean chit given to him for his involvement in the Gujarat riots of 11 years ago, Mr Modi decided to strengthen his candidature for the general elections in May – by revealing a new-found love for his Muslim brethren.

In a blog post, that an editor has described as a “brilliant example of creative wrting by a highly imaginative mind,” Mr Modi says “As if all the suffering was not enough, I was also accused of the death and misery of my own loved ones, my Gujarati brothers and sisters. Can you imagine the inner turmoil and shock of being blamed for the very events that have shattered you!”

 Modi 2002What brother, should we run relief camps? (referring to relief camps for riot affected Muslims). Should I start children producing centers there, i.e relief camps? We are 5 and our 25 !!! (Ame panch, Amara panch, referring the Muslim polygamy

Modi 2012:  I went everywhere and investigated. There used to be PILs [public interest litigation] in the Gujarat High Court very often those days. And some judgements say that the best facilities were provided to the refugees

Modi 2002:  Cant Gujarat implement family planning? Whose inhibitions are coming in our way? Which religious sect is coming in the way? Why money is not reaching to the poor? If some people go on producing children, the children will do cycle puncture repair only?

Modi 2013:  On one side was the pain of the victims of the earthquake, and on the other the pain of the victims of the riots. In decisively confronting this great turmoil, I had to single-mindedly focus all the strength given to me by the almighty, on the task of peace, justice and rehabilitation; burying the pain and agony I was personally wracked with.

Modi 2002:  Every child born in Gujarat should get education, enlightenment, livelihood and the economic order should be built up accordingly. For this purpose, there is a need for teaching a lesson to those people, who are expanding their population

Modi 2013:  I had appealed to the people of Gujarat on the day of the Godhra train burning itself; fervently urging for peace and restraint to ensure lives of innocents were not put at risk.

Modi 2002: We cannot permit merchants of murder freely operate in Gujarat.

Modi 2013: “In fact, my emphasis has always been on developing and emphasizing a spirit of unity; with the now widely used concept of ‘my 5 crore Gujarati brothers and sisters’ having crystallised right at the beginning of my tenure as CM itself from this very space”

 

 

 

 

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