Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Travel?

Travel is adventure; it is a chance to get away from every day and normal. It forces you to go beyond your comfort zone and expand your perspectives. It teaches you to respect other lives, places & cultures and makes you more open minded. Even without making any conscious effort, you end up absorbing some of the things you come across; they become a part of you.

To sit in a vehicle (Bus, Car, Train or plane!) and go from one place to another is to transport yourself into a different reality. Or to suspend your reality and enter a different world for a short while.  A new place or even an old place that you have visited many times earlier or sometimes a place where you lived for some time a while ago, feels different in many ways. It looks different of course, but it also smells and sounds different.  Those sights, smells and sounds become part of you.  

I love to travel. I love the journey from one place to another and I love to go and experience different places. I love to travel to nearby places and be surprised by the differences in landscape, language and people’s perspectives. And I love to plan and visit distant, foreign places and be surprised sometimes by many similarities that I can find with people there and people back home.

In London, I want to take the tube, ride the London buses and taxis and I want to walk! Walk by the Thames, looking at the Big Ben and walk even in the small suburb of Hammersmith, where you will come across pubs that are more than 100 years old. Go into those pubs and have beer with fish and chips; oh and even CTM (Chiken Tikka Masala) – I was completely surprised by CTM the first time. I want to go to the theatre and watch a play/show. I want to walk into different book stores and just browse, and be surprised by the knowledge of the attendants. I want to ride the train and go to Oxford and learn about the different colleges there. 

In a small village near Blackburn, I visited a farm and saw a typical English barn. I saw these big, fat, pigs and sows and revised the image I had in my mind of Empress of Blandings. The BBC TV show I had watched had not made me do that. Seeing things on TV or even on big screen are no match to seeing things live. When you see it on the farm, you walk in the typical English weather and you smell the farm, it’s a combined smell of the wet greens and the animals. You can see how the animal walks across slowly, almost awkwardly.  I always enjoyed reading the Blandings books and like most PGW fans, found Lord Emsworth to be this bumbling and yet lovable character, but looking at those big, fat pigs gave me a different perspective. I find Lord Emsworth’s obsession over Empress funnier now; I can almost see her!

Visiting small villages in Provence, I understood the fascination I had come across in literature and movies about regions such as Provence and Tuscany. I could feel the romance of these places. The old houses, narrow, cobbled streets, small bistros and ice cream shops and village markets  – all very well maintained but not showy. I couldn’t help marveling at how things are very modern, yet so traditional and simple.

Closer home and still far away from Pune, in Assam, on the Majauli island, visiting different Satras and trying to understand the lifestyle there, to visit the local artists, see their creations and end the day by watching a dance performance in one of the Satras before retiring to our rooms in another Satra, is a day that will forever be part of me. A cherished memory.

Trekking in Himalayas, surrounded by majestic mountains, you can find out how life moves at a different pace there. You learn firsthand that the people of the mountain are a sturdy lot; they are cheerful in face of the inherent risks and challenges of their lives. The mountains give you a sense of freedom and at the same time make you understand the importance of discipline. They can be the most beautiful, most magnanimous presence one moment and the most furious and scary the next! 

In presence of the humongous mountain ranges; sometimes intimidating, yet sometimes almost soothing, you understand your insignificance in the big picture of the nature. It does not make you feel bad about your insignificance though. In fact, you feel an acceptance and a sense of peace. 

So many places, so many experiences and so many memories! Each journey and each trip makes me richer and a better version of myself!

Monday, January 12, 2015

How to be a successful Pet Cat

I managed to mesmerize my slave about a month back and she took me in. I am sure there are better cat slaves than her, but she is getting trained and I hope that one day, I would be able to proudly say that I have the best cat slave!

I am giving a few pointers and guidelines on how to be successful as a pet cat and how to train your slave and keep her/him in line.

There are three steps to becoming a successful pet cat.
1.     Be born as a cat
2.     Become a pet cat
3.     Master your slave and rule like a real pet cat!
I don’t know anything about how to achieve the first step. But I know that only the creator’s favourites are born as cats.

Becoming a Pet Cat

There are a few different paths that can be followed to becoming a pet cat. Let me describe some –

A.     You are born to a mother who was already a pet cat. Which means, you are born into pet catdom!! Born with a silver bowl, so to say… Lucky you!!! It does not get easier than this, because this means you are in a family that is already trained to be ruled by a pet cat.

B.     Your mother was what they called a stray. You ended up losing her and your siblings. But you are a survivor!! You need to move about looking for someone to adopt and find someone who you can manage to mesmerize!

C.     You were separated from your mother and are taken to a place that they called a “shelter” though it looked like a jail to you because you were put in a cage there. There were other cats there and a lot of bickering going on. When some family/person comes looking for a cat, you need to hypnotize that person so that he/she will pick you over every other cat. It helps to be playful at this point. Look happy, even if you are not. Another trick that has been known to be successful sometimes is to look really desperate to get out of the place. But this really helps if you are exceptionally good looking. Going with being playful is safer. That is a sure shot way of hypnotizing humans.

D.     Then, there would be others like me, who are born to a pet cat mother but got lost. However, you then managed to find someone to take you in. Like I found my slave. You have to mesmerize/hypnotize this person. In my case it turned out to be quite easy. She was a goner in just three pitiful meows!!


Master your slave and rule like a real pet cat!

Once you become a pet cat, you need to spend some time to get to know your slave. If there is only one person in residence apart from you, that person is your slave. When there are more people, first step is to identify your slave – remember, it is the person who feeds you, talks to you the most and tries to make you comfortable.

Once identified, you need to start training the slave. Following are some things that should help in training the slave and then keeping him/her in line.

First and foremost – Never be predictable! Be it about the place you like as your sleeping abode, the food you like to eat or the toys you like to play with!

When they feed you something you like, first let your slave know you like it. Eat it with gusto. Look all pleased after having a tummy full. But, make sure you don’t let the slave become complacent and keep feeding you the same thing. For this, after eating it happily for about 5.24 times, you start turning away in disdain. Let them try to figure out why you are not eating it. When the slave is in the kitchen, walk around her, with your tail up and meow asking for food. Let the salve go crazy trying to figure out what you would eat.

They will give you some toys to play with. There are two different things you need to do with the toys – for some brand new toys, don’t show any interest what so ever. In some other toys, follow the same principle as the food – play with them for a short while before turning away in disdain. New papers, good paper bags that the slave is trying to save – they are the toys you want to play with – tear them, crumple them, jump on them with dirty paws! Plastic bags are excellent, especially the ones that make a lot of noise – that noise can drive the slave crazy easily.  If there are any plants then eat the flowers, pluck the leaves and bring the soil from the pots in the house. This is another thing that would drive the slave crazy. After all the slave needs to learn that what you want to do with all the things is what is going to happen and you are not going to change your ways to suit the slave!

Few other tips for the toys and play –

1.     The slave’s hands need to be scratched with nails and they need to be chewed on – this you need to do on a regular basis to keep them in line. But don’t make them realize that you are basically training them when you are scratching their hands or chewing on them. Make them think you are being playful!

2.     If there are curtains, make sure to climb those – they need to be climbed on and the slave or the others in the family can’t do it. The responsibility of this task lies with you solely. When you climb to the top, get onto the curtain rod and start meowing pitifully, let the slave think you can’t climb down. They will rush around to raise something for you to jump in or they themselves might climb on a chair or something. Make sure to scratch the slave in a few places as you climb down.

3.     When the slave is trying to sleep, jump onto their face, asking them to play. Start biting their hands; that generally would get you the attention.

4.     When you are wide awake and playful, they will play with you and let them for some time. Then walk away looking down upon them. Let them know that you decide when you will play, how much, with what or whom. Don’t let them make you play when they try to “make you”.

5.     Bird feathers are excellent toys. So are decorative items that the slave and others would try to keep you away from.

6.     Cupboards, refrigerators, washing machine – you need to get into all of them! If by chance, while trying to keep you out of these, they are even close to trapping you or you feel your foot might get caught – bellow like they are trying to murder you. Run away looking hurt. Then keep giving them a look to remind them of their guilt.

7.     Once in a while, just for fun, go into a different part of the residence from where they are and start meowing as if you are stuck or in a lot of pain. When the slave comes running to see what has happened, be standing on a bed or a chair, and on seeing them, jump down with a satisfied “meow” and walk away!

Remember that you need to do these and keep coming up with newer ways to keep your slave in line. There are many other things one can do based on the slave and the exact situation, but these should be good to get started.

The most important thing is to have the right attitude. You are a cat! You are superior to every other living thing. Your adopted family and most importantly your slave needs to be made aware of this and you need to keep reminding them from time to time to keep them in line.

It is a lot of work but once you train your slave keeping them in line is not too bad. A well trained and kept in line slave is really worth it. They make your life so much easier. You can then have the choice of food, the choice of place to sleep and relax or play as you wish!!