Thursday, April 18, 2013

" D" For Adorable Dogs

 Today, being the letter 'D', I am here to share a few things about our three dogs, two have already left us, and the third one is our yet another cute Labrador.
Let me start with our first dog, Cookie. She was a gift from our neighbor. She looked and behaved like a Labrador, but actually she is mix between pure Labrador male and Doberman and a Labrador mix female, so she had both the good qualities of these two breeds, but mostly she had the lovable streak of a Lab She was a beautiful fawn color Lab. Each dog has its own characteristics, even  if they belong to the same breed. 
Cookie's favorite way of expressing her uncontrollable love for us would be to cover her eyes with both her paws and pretend she is invisible, and I should say Kanu, Kanum, which in English roughly means, ' I have disappeared/ or I am lost/ invisible, find me', and I should remove her paws covering her eyes, and say, 'edhu', which means ' here she  is'.
And whenever we used to take  her for walks, I would walk a little slowly as I would love to watch all the beautiful old Anglo Indian houses, in our layout, and when some turn came, and she could not see me coming behind, she would stop and make my husband wait for me, once she sees me coming, and, she knows for sure that,  I am alright she would continue with her brisk and joyful walk with my husband.
She loved to walk only with my husband, and many times would refuse to be taken for walks by our watchman.
Her favorite food was curd rice with lots of boiled vegetables, and would hate Pedigree (the dog food). Also, she would want to be fed Banana only with hand, she wasn't a great fruit lover, so we would have to coax her to eat it, by showing her squirrels, crows or other street dogs, and threatening her, that they would get her Banana  if she did not finish it fast. She was so much like a human child.
Cookie was absolutely adorable. She had grown so muscular, one could see her rippling muscles while she ran to fetch the ball, and her favorite ball used to be the big foot ball.
She knew all the basic commands and although very energetic and playful, she always listened to us  and  never bothered our guests.  
                                                   Sadly we don't have many pictures of her.
She had to leave this world, leave us very suddenly. She was just 3 and half years old when all of a sudden she became very weak,  and after various tests were done she was diagnosed as having  Leptospirosis. It usually takes 4- 12 days after the exposure to this dreadful bacteria for the dog to feel ill. It starts with loss  of appetite, progressing to muscle pain, lethargy, vomiting, and mild fever, the eyes start to turn yellow, and so on till the liver/ kidney or both are damaged beyond repair, and the dog dies. 
Though doctors were quite encouraging, and felt, there was still hope, but after 4 days  in ICU, she passed away. It was the saddest day in our lives. She was our first dog,.

Our second dog 

As time went by, our neighbor persuaded me to take a puppy who, she promised, would look just like Cookie, same family, same breed, and that she would get it from her brother in law's place in Ooty.  I agreed very reluctantly.
So, they arranged for the puppy to be brought all way from Ooty with one of their nephews in his car.
So we had another cute lab ( we thought she was a lab). However,  as soon as we took her to our Vet. for shots, he told us, that she was a Golden Retriever, again a cross between GR and Lab. While she was still a puppy she looked a lot like a Lab, but as she started to grow, she developed all the features of a Golden Retriever, and she was a beautiful dog. 
We named her Toffee.  We  had to go through the same problems of training a small puppy. it was quite exhausting, but soon she grew up to be a well behaved dog.
Her mannerisms were almost just like Cookie, and she was a real joy to have around.
She also would not like Banana, would have it if only fed by hand.
She also liked to go for walks only with my husband, she too loved watching young boys playing football in the playground. But she would not learn to do "Kanum Kanum"  like Cookie. We were very attached to her as she was with us for almost 7 years. 
Although she was so grown up, her behavior was just like a puppy, ever ready to play with us.     
Last year suddenly she developed lumps in various parts of her body, when treated they would go away but only to come back at some other place. She was going through so much pain, but would not show, and just keep resting all the time, refusing to eat, and as if telling us through her  tired eyes that her end has come and to just let her go. 

She  went through Chemotherapy too, for she has Lymphosarcoma, again a deadly disease.  Just ten days before her death she looked quite well, was even eating properly, we thought she was alright, when again all of sudden she became serious and had to be hospitalised. She was  in the hospital for just two day, on the second day we got a call from the hospital that she was no more. She had died in her sleep. Another most adorable dog was snatched  ruthlessly, away from us at such a young age: it was really cruel.
We can never forget our two dogs, they will always be a part of us.

 She seemed quite well: she was enjoying all the attention given to her by everyone who had come for the get together in our house.

                 At the get together party last March: everybody praising her for being such a well behaved dog
                                            She was such a baby when she came to us
                            We never thought she would die so suddenly: cancer is a silent killer
                         Toffee giving me a kiss, her way of saying she loved me very much

After 5 months we got another Lab, and named her Bumbilli. She seems to be the naughtiest of the whole lot.   

Dogs are so lovable, they are always so loyal, and they can love unconditionally.
They can sense when we are sad, and be our silent supporter and comforter, just lying by our side. When we are happy, they are there to be happy with us.  When we are angry with their behavior, they come quietly and lick us, trying to say they are sorry, that they just couldn't help it. 
They can melt our hearts with their innocent looks. And when they fall sick they can get us worried so much.
Bumbilli  is the  only one who has trainer coming to train her, for she is super active, very naughty and sometimes unmanageable too. It is now 4 months since her training started and she is getting better and better with each passing day. When we get mad at her, she would immediately salute us ( a down dog movement), and look so cute, that all or anger will just vanish away. She will not salute if we ask her, but will do it only when she wants to be in our good books. She is still a baby, for she is just 9 and half months old. 
She loves all her stuffed toys and plays with them without tearing them. She also loves to play with squeaky toys, and loves playing ruff and tuff games. She is a real cutie pie.
Here she is at her favorite game of catching  and locking my leg tightly with her legs and asking me to play  with her stuffed toy monkey.

                                                         Learning to hold the paper
                                                Peeping through the window
                                            "Catch me if you can", seems to be her expression. Looks like she has been busy damaging some plants in the garden

 I found this dog's prayer in the net:

A Dog’s Prayer

"Treat me kindly, my beloved friend,
for no heart in the entire world
is more grateful for your kindness
than mine. Don't be angry with me
for long and don't lock me up as
punishment. After all, you have
your job, your friends and your
entertainment. I only have you.

Sure, we will always love and cherish you and learn from you, the art of giving unconditional love.

Do you love dogs, and do you have something to share?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Children: My Children

                                                                        And now

Today I have chosen the letter 'C', and I immediately thought of
 writing about my children. It is not that bringing up children is easy, but we all learn in our own way how to do this difficult task. We kind of grew and learnt together, listening to each other, and understanding each other, and somewhere along the way, we became tuned to each other and could start thinking alike. It was not easy all the way, but parenting is a learning process, and we can succeed if we put  our mind to it.

I have two lovely children, a daughter who is 31 years old and a son who is 28 this month. 
They both grew up right in front of my eyes : I was there to hear their first word, watch their first step, record their first song/ poem, etc. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity of having been there right from their birth to the time they were old enough to leave home and fend for themselves. . They were never overly pampered, overly supervised, and none of them was ever sermonized about what was best for them. And when the time came each one of them chose the path that was dear to their heart. 
                                                             Then and now
           She travelled  to Europe, when her friends ditched  her in the last moment.                           
                                            Having planned it , she decided to do it alone.
                                      I loved her guts for she was barely 25 at that time.
Let me first tell you about our daughter. I named her Mathanki, even before she was born, and lovingly called her Puja at home. So officially she is known as , Mathanki, Matanki, ( that is the way some of her friends pronounce her name), Tanki, Math, Mathu, and so on. Among her close friends and relatives she was Poo, Pooj or Puja. Sometimes, I wonder how people with 2 names survive, and have the 2 names broken into so many short names. I always like to call people by their full name, no short forms for me . 

My daughter hated to study, do homework - she hated school (National Public School- Indiranagar, Bangalore). This school deservedly had a reputation for being authoritarian (some would say Hitlerian), Slave driver (several of the senior teachers strutted about, cane in hand), Taskmaster ( Heaps of homework to spoil the childrens’ weekends). Under such Gestapo rule, even the Weakest of the Weak student would easily make the grade and do reasonably well, which pleased many a parent, but certainly not my daughter. I have seen her watching MTV on the telly, with book in hand, studying for her exams. She did not want to change the school either, saying," known devil is better "etc., the saving grace also being the proximity of the school to our home in Indiranagar – a walkable distance. With gritted teeth she managed to finish tenth grade in that school, and said she wanted to do something different and interesting in life - no medicine, engineering, commerce, science etc., for her. She had decided she would join Chitra Kala Parishath, one of oldest Art universities in Bangalore, and do their 5 year degree course in Arts. She wasn't artistically inclined, although she was fairly proficient in sketching, painting etc. Her intention was to specialize in Commercial Art, ie., visual design, graphic design, collages, copywriting etc., which would open up a career for her in Advertising. So the first two years would be just like doing a PU, with more emphasis on free hand drawing sketching etc., with some subjects like Hindi and English thrown in. If one didn't like it, they could leave the course and join regular PU in some other college too. 
                              Here she is with Amitabh, when they did the ICICI bank Ad.(2 years back)
The Laissez-faire atmosphere in this artists den, full of wannabe artists in Khadi kurtas, short stubbles in front and long pony tails behind, dilettantes of various shades, suited our daughter to a T. So she enjoyed her college, where nobody was really bothered whether you were good or not, they left it to the students to complete their assignments at their own pace and that was it. If a student was interested he or she would do well or would fail otherwise. It was no big deal either way. There were no surprise tests, no draconian rules - They were free as birds to fly, to soar, to stimulate their imagination and hone their talents in their own fashion. 

Our friends used to ask us: " have you people gone mad, why have you put your daughter in some Arts college, what scope does she have? why don't you put pressure and make her choose engineering or medicine? Surely she has got enough marks to enter any of these streams ?” 
Well, we felt if a person is good and has the required talent they can do well in any field, and we felt children should be left to make their own choices in life, especially in matters of their studies, their careers and their life partners. But certainly in those rat race days, people thought we were crazy. 
Chitra Kala Parishath is such a venerable institution, you can choose any subject to specialize for 3 years, like Sculpture, Terracotta, Fine Arts, and Commercial Art (Adverting). Many brilliant people have graduated from this college and are doing exceedingly well in society. 
My daughter too passed out from this college with flying colors. While still in college, she had a part time job with Lintas, and was given a full time job with them as soon as she passed out. She didn't have to apply to various companies, attend interviews etc. 

After a few years, she quit Lintas and moved one to McCann Erickson and worked there till her marriage. She had her own 2 bedroom apartment, her own car and a good salary, and she had almost 9 years of working experience. 
Now she lives in Bombay with her husband Ram. She works as the Creative Director in O&M. She has won few awards for the good work done by her in this field. She is also an excellent self taught photographer, with a Nikon strapped around her neck and photoshop at her fingertips

                                                              Ram & Puja
I am really proud of my daughter and her achievements at such a young age. I don't think she could have achieved all this if she had been pigeonholed to do something in which her heart and soul was not there. 

                                                                           Then & now
Our son Janardhan, is totally different. His name too was chosen by me before his birth itself. ( I had decided if it was a girl she would be named Mathanki, and if it was a boy he would named Janardhan). He is known among his close friends and relative, as Jan, Jannu, Janardhan, and Jandu Balm. 
He was always focused on studies, and always wanted to come first in everything, he was totally fit for the torture the school was known to mete out to its students. He was the type who would easily say, "yeh dil mange more" ( this heart craves for more). He was also interested in other things besides studies, but he was smart enough to know that if had to be where he wanted to be, he had to concentrate and get there at any cost. He would work hard, go for coaching classes in his school for IIT - JEE, and while he was in college, he joined some Management coaching classes, some law coaching classes. It was unbearable even for us bystanders to watch him self flagellate in such single minded, obsessive determination He would say, that he must keep various options open in case he did not get into the field he wanted to. He was also equally interested in his sister's field and kept himself up to date on that line to, just to be on the safe side, in case he could not get admission anywhere else. ( strange and funny)

                                                      Cars : his one and only passion

His one ultimate objective in life was to get into the Univ. of Michigan in Ann Arbor and study Automobile Engineering. It was tough though : he could not get into IIT, competition being extremely stiff. His father could get into an IIT in the seventies, when life was much more laid back, but not him. However, he did get into NITK - Surathkal, which enjoyed a fairly good reputation among the Universities in India. 

After graduating from NITK, the next step was getting admission into one of the top 10 universities in the US of America for a Master’s course. He was keen on only Ann Arbor, and by sheer will and determination, he did gain admission in that prestigious institution, and has been there for the last 6 years. He has not only completed his MS in Automobile engineering, but got so much interested in Aerospace, that he got a second Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering too. 
He loves his University, the laid back university town, and  now Interns with Bosch and is also busy preparing to defend his PhD thesis for the ultimate degree in academia. 
He has become a mature and responsible young man. He loves driving and has gone on several road trips and has been to California, driving all alone from Michigan and back, during a stint of internship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 
He seems to know what he wants his life to be like, and all the pressures he faced during his developing years were all self imposed. Now that he has more or less achieved his goals he is relaxed and is enjoying his life. He loves exercising, he loves cycling, ice hockey and of course travelling too. In spite of studying hard and pushing himself, he has not turned out to be the serious nerd : he knows how and when to relax and enjoy life and has a great sense of humor too. 

Both my children have always been very supportive, encouraging, and helping, despite my constant nagging (being a mother, I do nag sometimes about little things, but not for long, for when I feel my nagging has no effect on them, I automatically stop). Many a times, instead of me giving them some sound advice, it would be me listening to their words of wisdom. Some times I am myself amazed at their sharp intellect, dissecting an issue in a methodical and logical manner, and many a time I have stood wondering : " are they really my children, my own flesh and blood.... " well, they are mine, yet they are so different from me, more mature than me in many ways, making me feel so proud. I don't want them to be like me, I want them to be different, be their own self, find fulfillment in carving their own identity. 

The lesson thus learnt, is to let every individual be themselves, instead of trying to impose our will, our aspirations, our goals on them. My advise to people going through various dilemmas in their lives with their children is to please step back, give your children the much needed space. Don't force your own unfulfilled dreams to come true through them; let them have their own dreams, let them do what they really like, and see them grow into stunning individuals, contributing something worthwhile to the society. 

There are no role models/ books / instruction manuals for parenting, we learn as we grow and experience, and try to change our own narrow mindsets. 

Rama Ananth 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Bombay: A pleasant Visit....

Whenever, I visited Bombay along with my husband, it would always be very brief, spent mostly visiting relatives, and coming back to Bangalore. Though I started my life with my husband in Bombay  years ago, and have visited almost all the important places along with him, yet, wanting to see Bombay through different eyes was always my goal.
My daughter who now lives in Bombay with her husband, kept on asking me to come when she had some long weekend so that she could show me the places I really wanted to see and be seen at.
This time, opportunity came by, when she had a long break,  starting with  the festival of Holi, Good Friday, etc. 
So off I flew off to spend some fun filled time with my daughter,  her husband Ram and their lovely dog Loki. The weather too was fine,  in fact slightly cooler than Bangalore.
Powai : this is where our daughter stays so that she could be closer to her office in Goragaon, and here is where the most happening place in Bombay is located : Hiranandani Gardens.
It is a place that immediately transports you to some European country, just for a few moments you can think you are somewhere else, not in India. The architecture, the surrounding layouts, the lush gardens with European style fountains, the cafes, the glittering shops everything fools you into thinking that you have stepped into dream world, see for yourself these buildings:

Powai Lake
Can't believe it is our own Bombay or Mumbai  PS : Image Kind courtesy Google
Though my daughter doesn't live in one of those ultra posh apartment, for they are all very expensive. However, she lives in a beautifully landscaped apartment complex in Powai, which has big wide balconies opening out of each of the rooms including the kitchen. It has a swimming pool, a high tech Gym and the landscaping is so beautiful.One has to just take a walk around the vast building complex to see how drastically the style of all the new buildings have changed in the last few years in Bombay. Gone are the days when we had match box type buildings, things  are changing. Though such small ugly looking apartments are still very much there, but the sight of some new buildings are really a feast to the eyes.
Next stop is Lower Parel: Oh, one has to see the lighted high rise buildings in the night, it almost makes you wonder whether you are in Bombay or in Manhattan, it is unbelievable. However, the same buildings in the morning look very shabby.
Next visit: Colaba:
 While driving to Colaba you get see the famous Marine drive and some of the very old and  beautiful buildings facing the ocean. I always wanted to stay in a house or an apartment facing the sea, and whenever I see such buildings my heart aches.
We got a glimpse of Mukesh Ambani's home called 'Antila', the world's first billion dollar house, an architectural disaster, pure eye sore, standing as a sour thumb. I don't know why he had to get the best architects from Chicago to build this monster.You can see for yourself:
                                                       Image Kind courtesy Google

There is no harm in having money, but at least he could have used it wisely to build something beautiful, classy. We have all seen pictures of various very rich people's houses, but have you ever seen such a horrible looking building. It also claims to be the tallest building in Bombay.
These are some of the most beautiful old buildings in Bombay, all near the Taj Hotel facing the sea:
                                                 All pictures taken by my daughter

                                                         Another beauty: so different
We reached Colaba dropped off Ram at Leopold Cafe`, where he was to meet somebody.
It is one of the most favorite and most visited cafes of the city. Leopold café is the typical hangout place for youngsters and also the old regulars. For some reason it always attracts foreigners. The food is good and usually with large servings and is fresh. Has amazing range of different wines and Champagne.
However, we ( daughter and myself) decided to go to Café Mondegar, for this was one place, that I always wanted to see, having read about it in many travelogues, and seen it in various food channels.
Next to Regal Cinemas, the cafe opens early in the morning and is open till midnight. This place is for all the college goers, office goers, tourists, and of course, the regulars : a favorite hangout place for almost everybody. Drinks and food at reasonable rates with amazing music wafting from the Juke box.
Mario Miranda's paintings also adorn the walls of  Pub Cafe Mondegar. 

                                                             Pub Cafe Mondegar
                                                The paintings of  Mario Miranda

   Another interesting  Place called Picadilly, a Irani Cafe, very old, with Coke posters, famous for Lebanese and Persian food for Irani Chai/ Tea and Irani Samosas
After lunch shopping:
                                                                Antique shops
                                      Bought two glass lamps one in Pink and one in Violet
                Had to admire this smart lady selling Henna blocks, and speaking such good English

Then hopping to Starbucks for coffee, at The Taj Hotel.
 Since it was a Saturday, it was crowded, but we did manage to find a good place to sit. Took a picture of The Gateway of India:
                                 The famous Haji Ali Dargah, how can I come without seeing it
The shops at Haji Ali

Amazing views from this bridge: Bandra Worli Sea link
During the night it would look more beautiful with the lights on.
There are many more places to see and things to do in Bombay, but from this visit only this much was possible.
And finally a picture of Loki, the cutest, and the most lovable dog.
Back to a hot furnace called Bangalore.
Again it is a photo blog.