Cool Buddies

A day in the life of my cat [by Sharada]

Posted in Animals, Humour, Life by Ratheesh & Sharada on September 4, 2015

(from his point of view, as understood by me)

Oh it is time to wake up already! Alright! Great, the big door opens. Now they want me to come out and speak to them. First things first, ah.. nice stretch; most important thing after waking up… and a nice big yawn! Good morning, human. Yes, I mean you. Ah, you made me happy, thank you. Yes, a little bit more there, yes I love a well meaning scratch. Yay! I am free! I am free!

Wow, everyone is up. What were they doing? Hmmm, some nice smelling stuff coming from the room where they make the maximum noise and from where all my milk comes from. Oh, they are again eating some vegetables. It was smelling good, but on closer observation, I am not interested. You won’t believe how much they eat! And they keep shoving things into their mouth, sometimes it makes sound, sometimes it smells weird and sometimes it is watery. But all I get is some granules, they smell great, does not have much taste. But I eat them anyway.

What’s that? Hmm.. an intruder. Let me hide and pounce on him. Oh no, he is flying. Will climb on the table where they keep all their food. Aww.. why do you keep scolding me? I was only trying to catch the fly which I felt is a threat. Nevermind, he escaped. But only till next time.

Ah, Good morning, this is my favourite human. It gives me what I ask for. I mean, most of the time, atleast. I think it has understood me to some extent. But keeps touching me. Ouch, why are you cuddling me? Am I a baby? Come on, treat me with some respect. I am protecting you. I am an individual and as big as you, in cat years that is! Do you go around carrying your teenage sons? Don’t embarass me!

Hey, what’s that sound. Seems like an enemy, the pigeon. Grrr.. I hate them. I don’t know why. I just can’t stand them. So noisy… Let me go chase them away, stupid creatures. Grrr… hey you! stay away! I mean it! I reserve the worst expression possible for them, the most disgusting one. Let me go out and look at the road. Ah… run! What was that? My, I just ran inside in time. They make terrible, ear splitting noise and some humans seem to ride them. I don’t understand why they cannot pass silently. Scary stuff.

My stomach is rumbling, let me go be nice to my human. I will play with it and be nice to it and maybe it will give me my milk. Aww, so cute. Let me give you a small nibble while I am at it. there, do you like it? Oh you want more? Oh now you want to get into a friendly fight? I am ready, come try me! Oh now why are you screaming at me.. you asked for it! Strange.

Ah, finally I smell milk. It is pouring into my dish. lap… lap.. lick.. there! ah, satisfied. Now the post eating ritual of cleaning my fur. I am feeling itchy from last two days, these damn ticks have got me. Grrr… I will eat you! I never get them, however hard I try.. They are very troublesome. Sometimes I wish a human comes and scratches me, just that it does not know where to scratch. It means well, but scratches at wrong places and I get annoyed. Sigh.

Oh someone is going up the strairs, I can hear it! Let me run and reach there before them. It is my favourite place in the house. The open terrace. I can roll there, chase butterflies without being threatened by enemies. And, yes, I can keep an eye on those darn pigeons too from that height. Ah, why is the door closed now, sad. Oh great, it is opening it. It wants me to go out too. But wait, you can’t go away, leaving me here all alone. Come on, play with me. It went away. Nevermind, let me roll and feel the cool cement ground on my back.

I can sit here all day. There is so much to see and do here, unlike inside. Inside the house, everyone is busy doing something, I don’t exactly understand what. They seem to be eating a lot; a lot more than they should be. But they sleep very less, unlike me. I mean, what else do you need to do other than hunt, eat and sleep. They seem to be having a lot to do. They even talk to each other a lot. Wish I could understand what they say.

Oh my human looks like is abandoning me and going away. I hate it when they do not even notice me and walk away. Hey, I am sitting here, I want to sit here for some more time. Can you not stay with me? Ok, let me go downstairs and meet my other human. Meow… they seem to understand if I make a sound. No, no, thank you. I already ate. I don’t want food. This human is really dumb. It always thinks that I want food. I am not like you. I don’t eat all the time. I was saying a casual hello. You could either play with me or just say a hello. Food!

Ah, finally, I got someone to play with. This one is really good. It puts up a good fight. I would love to do this for some more time, but it gives up very easily. But I know, this one had trained me when I was little. Some of my fighting instincts were triggered due to the fights we used to have back then. If only… if only I can really fight with someone my equal! There is a big guy next door. He just stared at me the other day and I ran like hell for my life. He looks really intimidating. I will have to face him soon.

For now, I am the pampered little kitten. I can do as I please. And, my humans just love me. I love them too. So, I don’t see a need to go out anywhere. But I know, one day, I will become big and have to go out. That is what all cats do; atleast all male cats. Ouch, what is that bright light in my face. Who is this? Hey, it’s a new human. Never seen it before. It is pointing some weapon at me, might hurt me. They keep getting this box and it spits out bright flashes of light that hurts my eye. But it ends soon. Things I have to endure!

I see a spider! Wow, let me chase it down. And, just as I was about to kill the spider, something pulls me away. Ah, it is a human. It doesn’t want me to eat spiders? Is that what it is about? Oh, maybe it doesn’t want me to sit on top of their color box. The box that keeps emitting colors and sounds all the time. Somehow, the humans are able to leave all their work and sit staring at this for hours. I tried looking at it, I see a lot of colors. The spider seems more exciting.

Hey, a moving object. Could it be a rat? Let me hunt it down. Oh, it is not a living thing. Nevertheless, let me pretend it is a rat and hunt it down. I will hold it between my legs and kick it well and bite it at the same time. I will dig my claws into it. It is boring if it doesn’t even move. Oh, the human is coming towards me. What does it want? It wants to hold the rat, I mean that thing. It is throwing it. Yay, it is moving again. Let me run and hunt it down!

I am tired now. Time for a nap. Hmmm, where do I settle down? This couch smells weird. Not good. Let me jump on the sofa and try it. Hmmm, this is warm, looks good. Let me settle down here. Hey wait a minute. This is my place. Come on. Humans are so insensitive sometimes. I did all the hard work and found the right spot and now it wants it and it doesn’t even ask me. Just takes it away and drives me out. Now, I say, that is rude. Anyway, I will try the chair.

Is anybody going up the stairs? I want to run around in the open area. Hellooo “meeooowww” how do I communicate with these humans? They are so occupied with their own world all the time, what about me? I mean, I am the special person in this house, am I not? Let me go and rub my body against their legs, they seem to always fall for that. Come upstairs, understand? Oh no, not again. I just ate. Don’t keep giving me food, you fat lady. I want you to take me upstairs into the open. Yay, finally!! it is moving towards the stairs, let me run and beat it to the top. Now, come on, open the door. I will ask nicely, once again, please open the door!! Ah, good, it understood pretty well. Wow, the warm floor, let me roll on it and get some mud on my hairs. This is so much fun! Hey human, where are you going? Are you not gonna play with me, now come on, don’t be a spoil sport. Just a little game of chasing and hunting? Yay! it is coming outside, let me chase.. Ha Ha, this is so exciting.

Ok, I need a break now! I am so tired, let me take a breath. That stupid black bird again sounding alarm calls. Yes, one day I will come and eat your eggs from your nest. Aaarrrrgggghhhh I don’t like the sight of you. Go away.

Hey, where are you going, human? Are you tired too? Ok, I will just sit here, while you go and do something else for sometime. I will explore the pathway that will take me even higher today. It seems pretty steep, but I think I am ready for it. Once I get there on the top, I will get a very good view of all my enemies and can defend my territory well. But first, I need to sniff around for hours together every inch of that ladder, just to make sure it is safe.

Human! I am here! Yes, on top. I am sure you cannot smell me, because you only seem to rely on your other senses, mostly eyes. Oh you are calling out for me, ok meeoowwww, here, look up. It looked now, wonder how it sees when it is dark. I mean, it is so much easier to just smell and find out and be quiet. It is a strategy all animals swear by. Anyways, humans seem to be very unlike us. So let it be. Ah, it seems to have got me something to eat! How considerate, I was just getting hungry. Would love to nibble on some food. This makes me so happy… Puuuurrrrr Puuurrrrr Yes, stroke me little to the left please, ah, there, that feels so good. Will you play with me after I eat?

So much fun to lie in shade of a tree in the afternoon, without a care for anything in the world! How I wish I had a sibling to play with, would be so much easier. The human ones don’t seem to enjoy the outdoors, they always lie on soft bedding indoors. Just come out and see how good it feels to be in the sun! Hey! Wait a minute! Was that water? Oh no, rain… what do I do? Run… oh damn, the big metal door is closed! Helloo, anybody there? Come on, open the door!! I am getting wet! Let me try to open it with my claws, oh no, it doesn’t budge. What bad luck! Please, someone come and rescue me! I am all alone in the rain, getting wet. Have you forgotten me? Your cute little kitten?… open the door! open the door! open the door!!!

Ah finally, I hear footsteps, thank you, thank you. Oh God, that was terrible. I thought I will just get wet and sick. Ah, let me run inside to some warm spot. No… Noooooo …. Don’t rub me with that stupid cloth. I am very well capable of licking myself clean. Yuck! How disgusting. I am okay. Yes, I know, I got a bit… scared… I mean, a bit… anxious… I am okay now. I am totally fine. Whew! That was some rain, but now that I am better, I want to go out again. Guess the rain has stopped? Actually, it was fun! But don’t know why they close that metal door? It would be so much easier if they leave all doors as they are! open! Actually, why do you need doors anyways? Just to create blockages? Is it some kind of trap? Why can’t you always leave everything open, free passages?

Did you see the human who is generally kind to me and who understands me? No? Yes, I am asking you, the man with the stick, yes, you. Did you see it? What? Why are you shouting at me? Now, what did I do? Let me go and sit in the bathroom. I am hurt. That is no way to talk to a little kitten. I don’t know what I did? Why did it scold me? I will pee all over the place where you are and then you will have to wipe it. You understand? Let me do that right away! Yes, now, how do you like that?

I am sensing some danger, I hear something downstairs. Oh my! A huge hairy dog! How did he get here? Are they trying to get me killed? Let me quickly hide in a box and be quiet. This is really dangerous. I will be hunted down like a smelly rat in no time. Why would someone get a dog to this house! Don’t they know I live here now? Lie low, lie low. He can’t smell me till here. Ok, he is going. Whew! He left without any mishaps. Now that’s a relief!

Let me step out now and survey the area. And I need to be sure he is gone. Hey! what was that? I am just swept off my feet, completely caught off guard! Oh no, another human, which comes sometimes and all it does it lift me off my feet and cuddle me. Ewww I don’t like that at all. No, human, this is not how you play with us cats. You just come for a friendly fight, you run around and chase me or we will just follow some moving objects. Cuddling makes my fur messy and I will need to sit and clean it all over again. And, it rubs off some undesirable scents on my body, which again I will have to clean. So, let me be clear, don’t do it! Or else, I will.. bite you!!

I have found a new fascination, it is flowing stream in the room from where pleasant aroma keeps coming once in a while. But there is one problem. I will have to wait till the human that understands me comes and does something to turn it on. Rest of the time, I sit and wait in front of that thing all day and not a drop of water comes out. There is some trick which I haven’t yet figured out. Yes, it is here, it will turn the water on now. Yay! I love to drink cool water from this stream. And catch the sparkling bubbles sometimes. It makes a gurgling sound too, that is so fascinating. I didn’t realize I was so thirsty!

Now, I am ready to play! Yes, it is almost night and I am totally charged up and ready to hunt! Come on, human, come and face me in combat. Yes! I am waiting here in the dark to suddenly pounce on you. Oh no, now.. what happened? I just got lifted off my feet. no… nooooooo…. it is taking me upstairs. I know what this means. It will leave me in a closed room to sleep. But hey! human! I am all ready and charged up… to play! I don’t want to go to bed now. Please… some more time… I beg you… Don’t take me there! Let me jump off… oh no, I got tricked! I got locked in the room now! Scratch scratch… let me out.. I am not ready to sleep yet! Come on, open the door. No use. It left me and went away. It will not come till morning now. I better settle down on my cozy chair and sleep. Anyways, there is no danger in this room, so I need not stay alert. Yawwwwnnnnn!

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We have our Cartoon!

Posted in Animals, Environment, Humour, Links, Politics, Sarcasm by Ratheesh & Sharada on February 26, 2010

We have started another blog where we have released our own Cartoon Series. Called Quibbles, the cartoon series will attempt to comment on various social concerns. You can read more about it here.

Footprint [by Sharada]

Posted in Animals, Environment, Life by Ratheesh & Sharada on August 8, 2009

I was sitting on my bed this morning sipping lychee twirl, one of my favorite flavors of juice and was wondering how this fruit looks like. It occurred to me that I have never seen or eaten it except for this juice or in ice cream flavors. I have no idea where it came from, where it is grown, how it is prepared. My mind was then drawn back to my childhood when I have drank a lot of juices – apple, pineapple, mango, chikoo.. Somehow lychee never has been in this list. Then I decided to do a small activity – making a list of all the items used in a normal day and trying to figure out how it landed into my hands. We use a lot of things everyday, we take a lot of things for granted, have we ever thought how much it might have taken to bring it to us in the form we are using and how this would directly or indirectly impact nature. We might dismiss this as an insignificant part of the colossal damage, however, on closer look we will be really surprised to know. 

  • Wake up to the sound of alarm – as simple as it might sound, sound of an alarm is one of the loudest and most disturbing sounds early in the morning. It might not hurt our ears as much as it might disturb a bird’s nest next to our window and confuse the poor creature
  • Toothpaste – Choose from a whole range of tooth pastes, blue, red, white.. whatever. Ever wondered what goes into making one (they almost never publish all the ingredients. Most of them that do not claim to be vegetarian have bone powder) and the process involves animal testing to ensure it does not harm human beings (I have never understood how we can conclude if it doesn’t harm an animal it doesn’t harm us, we are so different in constitution compared to an animal). And animal testing does not merely involve brushing a monkey’s teeth twice a day and see if they shine. It means the animal is fed enormous quantities of these chemicals till they show serious of some damage. And to produce one type of tooth paste, it might take thousands of animals who spend their whole lives in a small cage and eat tooth pastes all day!
  • Toothbrush – Tooth brushes are made of plastic, so as you change them every 3-4 months, you keep piling up plastics all your life (by the time you’re 30, you would approximately have used and thrown 90 brushes!). And we can only imagine what chemical reaction the plastic of the tooth brush would undergo when it comes in contact with tooth paste. And, if this did not manage to wake you up, the next one would for sure.
  • Coffee / Tea with milk and sugar – If you are buying coffee /tea powder directly from the place that grows and packs them, you are one of the blessed ones. If you are one of the not-so-lucky ones who buy from the supermarket, you might be buying Mexican coffee, thai tea from all the way round the world. Needless to mention, this would waste a lot of money and energy bringing it all the way to your country. Sugar (processed sugar) uses animal bones to make them white and sparkling (remember what they do to your teeth?). Buying packed milk, whether it is tetra packed or the most hygienically packed, would still come with a lot of unwanted pus, add-ons to make them white and creamy, and the poor cow would have to stand all her life and keep on supplying milk to feed the growing (human) population, so she is pumped with antibiotics and steroids to make her produce more and more milk. And it is better not to ask what happens to her calves, they are taken away almost as soon as they are born for the veal (tender skin)
  • Morning walk in the park – Now you might think, for once, this cannot be of any harm! This is what I used to believe. Of course, my joy didn’t last too long. While we listen to our favourite songs on the iPod and walk or jog, we are unknowingly trampling on a lot of tiny creepy crawlies (caterpillars, snails, small insects). They do not know a “park” is for fooling humans to believe there is some greenery amidst the busy city traffic and that it is better to keep away from these artificial grass and trimmed bushes.
  • Newspaper – This is an obvious one; think of all the paper that goes into making these pages and for what? One day worth of some news and a lot of ads! Of course we recycle them, don’t we? Some of us might do that, but once the trees are cut, we cannot grow them back from paper pulp!
  • Breakfast (bread, cheese, veggies, Tropicana juice) – We are not talking about homemade bread, cheese or juice. Most of them come from supermarkets and again might not be locally made. If you are using veggies that are homegrown or bought from local villagers, give yourself a pat on your back. Most of us buy exotic veggies (non-seasonal) from supermarket stores, just because they are made available and they look “fresh” and “colorful”, which means the supermarkets and giving a tough competition to the local vegetable vendor or the push-cart vendors who toil all day in the hot sun to make a few bucks.
  • Bath (water, soap, shampoo) – If we are having “bath” the Indian way, we would use one bucket (approx 20 litres) of water. If we consider this very “uncool” and try to mimic the west here, we would use a “shower” which means we waste more water than we use. And this actually means denying pure water to some unfortunate people who would have saved it for drinking. Because the water that comes out of the tap is not recycled water, it is fresh water from our rivers. What the heck, we pay for it right? Of course we do, but that does not give us the liberty to waste it. There might come a day very soon where we might not even be able to get pure water for drinking. Ever wondered where the soaps / shampoo / detergent or any other chemicals we use go after we have flushed them down the drain? More often than not, they join back rivers and lakes and pollute them. So the next time you pick up a shampoo that promises to make your hair soft and silky, just turn the bottle around and look for the ingredients. You might find some cryptic names that you would not even have come across in your chemistry lab. And most of these companies do animal testing to make sure the chemicals don’t harm us, or cause cancer (which means the animals are made to pay with their whole life undergoing lot of pain and suffering just for our silky soft hair)
  • Dress up (clothes, hair gel, sunscreen, makeup) – Talking of clothes, let’s admit it, we are all brand freaks, aren’t we? Given a choice between a locally made cotton shirt and a cool Lee / Levi shirt, which one would you pick? (no points for guessing that the former would cost a lot lesser). Make up, hair gel, sunscreen, body spray or any other beauty or grooming products would mean unless you are careful to research about the parent company that manufactures it, you would be buying foreign products and /or the company might be doing animal testing. No company would admit that they do animal testing, they never show how the product was manufactured, and they always hide it behind the flawless face of the models that are trying to sell them. So all you see is this model, who looks absolutely out of the world and a product that would take you there.
  • Mobile phone – The radiations from the mobile phone towers and devices are harmful for health. Not just that, they might be interfering with the frequencies that other animals and birds use for communication. They can also have harmful effects on their tender brain.
  • Travel to office (bike / car) – Most of us use petrol / diesel run cars and bikes. This would mean, pumping a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We all know about the ever increasing problems caused by the greenhouse gases. So this is definitely a killer. And we are burning away fossil fuels at an alarming rate, as you can imagine, this has become a very precious commodity with wars being fought over them.
  • At the office (AC , Computers, generator, coffee cups, paper napkins, paper for printing) –  Let us take a typical corporate office as an example, we are enclosed in a building covered by glass on all sides (not necessarily windows) with AC running 24 / 7. And we wouldn’t be aware of power cuts since there is always a generator or a battery backup to keep the AC running. Most offices also come with a pantry with a coffee machine, with use-and-throw paper / plastic cups, paper napkins, which means a lot of paper used per day and a lot of garbage generated with little concern about where it goes. And the glass buildings are a major contributor towards global warming and not just that, they confuse birds that fly right into them and smash their brains in the process.
  • Lunch / snacks (eat outside in an eatery) – .We are more and more mimicking the western culture of use-and-throw. Even traditional restaurants use a lot of paper / plastic utensils to serve food (for hygienic purposes) which results in a large amount of garbage which is not bio-degradable. In good old days, the hotels would refuse to pack food if we did not carry a container for the liquids and most packing was in old newspapers. Now things have changed, plastic bags have taken over due to their convenience for both the hotel owners and the consumers. These days it is difficult to convince them to not give you a plastic bag.
  • Grocery shopping (supermarket, packed food) – On the way home from office, you pass in front of the supermarket and decide to stop for some shopping. Of course, you did not expect this, so you are not carrying a bag for the stuff you buy. No sweat, the shop owners are more than happy to pack the stuff in plastic bags. I remember a store near my house which had become unpopular because they frown when people ask for a plastic bag, they would expect people to bring their own bags. Next time you shop, just spend a few minutes examining the stuff you just bought. I bet most of it would be packed food! We are again aping the western culture here; in good old days you would have cooked most of these at home and maybe never even heard about the rest of them.
  • Watch TV (news, ads) – We are stuffed with 24 / 7 news these days. And we spend more time watching commercials than actually watching a movie or a program. Even prime time news is not spared; they are forced to take a break for the commercials. When was the last time you got a chance to complete a movie in one and half hours? We are bombarded with unwanted information all the time, this adds to our mental clutter. It makes us feel dissatisfied with our lives and leaves us a hope that buying that brand of washing machine would improve our family relations and get us sparkling homes with white spotless walls!
  • Dinner (for a change, home cooked) – We are totally dependent on gadgets in our kitchen to get things done and most of them require electricity. Gone are the days when cooking would take hours since it involved hand grinding, kneading, powdering etc. Now, it seems we are totally equipped to finish cooking in no time with all the latest gadgets that do the work for us, when we can sit back and relax! (unless there is a power cut)
  • Sleep (fan, cooler / heater, AC) – Global Warming is a big word, it is meant to be talked about in conferences by world leaders, it does not affect us common people. Right? Wrong! Have you noticed that you use the fan more often that you used to around five years ago? That you are saving up for an AC and want to escape the heat. Just five years ago, we had not heard of middle class home having AC, but now it has become a common practice especially in hot cities. This is a vicious cycle, since using these gadgets increase global warming, and we cannot stop using them because of the rise of temperature which is due to global warming! 

Whew! Finally, we have completed our guilt-trip through the day and it is time for some rest after all the brain churning facts related to seemingly innocent day-to-day acts. While we are having that much needed sleep, let us go over to the other side, to a village and get a perspective of a daily life of a farmer. Of course I am no farmer and have never lived in a village, but this is how I would imagine it to be like (the example chosen here might be an idealistic village which is not modernized and where people are self-sufficient) – 

  • Wake up to the sound of cock-a-doodle-doo!
  • Chew on neem sticks from the backyard for cleaning and polishing teeth
  • Fresh cow’s milk from your family cow which is lovingly brought up in a lot of space for grazing around freely all day and the milk is taken only after the calf had enough
  • Morning walk is not needed (since rest of the day is not spent sitting in a place) J
  • Simple breakfast of ganji (starch water from the cooked rice seasoned with some salt and pepper powder). The rice is grown in the land which is harvested by the farmer
  • Bathe in local pond without using soap or shampoo
  • Wear simple cotton clothes which is made by cotton grown in the village and made locally by weavers
  • Go to work by walk or by bicycle
  • On the way to work, meet up with a few friends and catch up on the news
  • Physical work to till the land from morning till evening
  • For lunch have home-packed ragi balls with sambhar made out of seasonal vegetables grown in the backyard
  • On the way back home, pay a visit to local fair (santhe) and pick up some basic stuff needed for home
  • Chat with friends, play some games for entertainment
  • Have a simple dinner cooked from home grown ingredients
  • Sleep outside on the porch with the cool breeze 

Now, you might protest saying that you are no farmer and you are born and brought up in a city and your life is tied closely to the city and your job is in the city. So obviously cannot go back to a village life. I totally agree and respect this. But this was just a comparison to show how simple life can be and how we complicate it with unwanted goods. Let us now see what we can do to improvise on our city life to be as close as possible to a self-sufficient village life. We cannot achieve 100% but you would be surprised to know how small changes can make a huge difference. 

  • Try switching to natural way to clean your teeth, it could be neem sticks (perfect) or atleast go for a tooth paste that is vegetarian and does not test on animals and manufactured locally (in the same country)
  • Use soap / shampoo / detergents that are locally made, contain organic or natural ingredients (lesser chemicals) and have certified that they do not test on animals
  • Try to resist temptation to buy news paper, instead subscribe to a e-paper or headlines
  • Buy coffee / tea from its source (coffee / tea plantations) and avoid using milk, use brown (unprocessed) sugar or jaggery
  • If you have a garden space, grow your own vegetables or else buy from farmers directly whenever possible (do not get fooled by corporates that claim to help farmers by buying from them directly, make sure this claim is well supported by facts). Use seasonal vegetables and fruits only. If you do not know of a source from where villagers are directly helped, then buy them from the next door vegetable vendor or push cart vendors (instead of supermarkets)
  • Always choose locally made products, grocery instead of branded, foreign items sold in supermarkets. Most of them are available locally and will work out cheaper too. Try and avoid packed / canned food, more often than not they contain chemicals to preserve them which might be harmful
  • Consciously minimize water usage all the time (washing, bathing etc)
  • Always carry a bag for shopping, as a rule. If no bag, then no shopping
  • It is cool to go to work on a bicycle. It is not just cool, it is healthier option too
  • Always buy locally manufactured clothes, shoes etc. Also take care to avoid leather, silk, animal fur etc. Do not go for branded stuff
  • Whenever possible make best use of natural air and light in homes and offices
  • In office, be proud to sport your own snazzy mug instead of using paper cups

 All these are simple yet very effective ways to help the world in our own small ways. It just requires some amount of extra research to find out the alternate products and requires some extra effort to turn off that tap when not needed. But it goes a long way.

Muthodi and Mullayyanagiri Trek [by Sharada]

Posted in Animals, Travel, Trekking by Ratheesh & Sharada on January 7, 2009

Chikkamagalur (Younger daughter’s town), is known for its picturesque hills and coffee estates. Our weekend trip to this cozy town was thoroughly spontaneous and a good one at that. We discovered some surprisingly beautiful places very close to this town. Quick trips like this; without too much planning sometimes leave us disappointed, but most of the time we end up enjoying it completely.

So off we started on a weekend in December armed with a bus ticket on our journey. We did not have much idea, though we had done some reading on the internet about some places near Chikkamagalur – the top on our list was Muthodi – a wildlife sanctuary.

We left Bangalore at 11:30PM on an Airavath (KSRTC Volvo), it is a five hour journey to Chikkamagalur. It was a comfortable ride, and we reached early in the morning at 4:30AM. Since there was nothing much to do till the town wakes up, we strolled around the place on the empty roads. While walking we made a mental note on the direction and the road to Muthodi. Chikkamagalur is a small town, there are only a couple of main roads, so it is not very tough to know the directions. We managed to spend around two hours this way, by which time we found the town had started to stir. We walked into Kamat hotel for some coffee. While having coffee we struck a conversation with the owner of the hotel. We enquired about buses to Muthodi and other places nearby. He suggested we take a bus that starts at 7:30am to Muthodi. We decided to have breakfast there and also packed some lunch. There are no government buses to Muthodi, so we walked to the private bus stand, which is just behind the KSRTC bus stand. We had plans of staying back in Muthodi if we get accommodation. The bus did not come to the private bus stand on that day, fortunately we heard about this a few minutes in advance and walked over to the nearby bus stop which was near Chethana Nursing home. The bus came at around 7:45, however we almost got tricked as the name of Muthodi was not written on the bus; we found Mallandur-Kolagamey written. We would have easily let it pass, had we not taken a chance and asked the conductor. Finally we were on our way to Muthodi. It was an uneventful one and half hours trip, though the scenery all the way was enchanting and just as we reached Muthodi a Sambhar crossed the road right in front of our bus. The locals sat unfazed as our jaws dropped at this unique sight.

The bus reached Muthodi at 9:30am, we got off and walked to the forest office to get permission to enter the place. The forest guards were friendly people, who explained to us the things we can do at Muthodi. There are cottages to stay overnight at that place; there is a 3.5km guided nature trek thorough the forest and safari morning and evening. Since by the time we reached we were too late for the safari, we decided to do the nature trek. Even before we started the walk, we spotted a malabar giant squirrel on one of the branches. We quickly took out our binoculars to get a closer look. We immediately knew this was going to be a very engaging trek. We wished to stay there overnight, however we came to know that since it was a weekend, all the cottages were booked. Though we were disappointed, we decided to come back some other time again for that. This time around, we decided to make the most of the nature trek. It started at around 10am with a guide and both of us. As we walked through the forest along a trek path, we spotted an amazing amount of birds, we quickly started noting down the features and identifying whatever we could. We were enchanted by the bird density in that place. To name a few – racquet tailed drongos, red-whiskered bulbuls, woodpeckers, plum headed parakeet, bee eaters, orioles. It was a mesmerizing walk, which we felt was a bird watcher’s dream come true. We took some photographs of the place, experimenting with some photography tips and tricks we had learnt recently. dsc027611

After the walk, we rested near the guest house, at the lunch area. We took out our packed lunch and gorged on it. In case you have not carried lunch, there is a canteen with a cook to serve a decent lunch. After lunch, we sat on a wooden bench in the park and watched birds all around us. We realized even if we sit in one place, there is so much around us to see. So we just sat there and saw an amazing variety of bird life around us. The most important thing on this trip was the binoculars, since without that we would not have been able to enjoy even half of what we did. Around evening, we saw people coming in cars to occupy their cottages. We realized how peaceful the place was till then. We were happy we were leaving the place, since it was not peaceful anymore. The best time to go to this place would be on a weekday, one and half days are more than sufficient to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. If you are not a bird watcher, you can still soak yourself in the natural surroundings, the sweet smell in the air and the cool breeze. All you need to remember is to be as calm and quiet as possible and take care not to pollute the place, since it is right in the middle of the forest. If you are quiet you would spot some wild animals too. Evening is the time for the safari, where all the people who landed were headed, however, for us it was time to leave, since the last bus from that place is at 5PM. Just before leaving we got some time to chat with a young, newly recruited forest official who was friendly; we just talked about his job and the excitement of living in the forest. It felt good to meet young people who were enthusiastic about protecting the forests. dsc02796

The bus got us back to Chikkamagalur, we headed straight to Kamat and had a masala dosa. We somehow had taken a liking to Kamat food, though there are a lot of restaurants in and around the place, we were very loyal to Kamat, not sure why exactly, but the food definitely was extremely tasty there. We had no idea what to do the next day, however, we were contemplating on a couple of plans in our heads. One was to leave Chikkamagalur, travel overnight and reach some other place altogether. Another plan was to take a room, spend the night in Chikkamagalur and next day head to Mullayanagiri. We had this inclination to do our bit of trekking and climb Mullayanagiri. Since there were no suitable buses to any place we wanted, we decided to stay back. This was a decision we would appreciate later, since only when we hit the bed did we realize how tired we were!

We found a nice hotel just next to Bus stand – Samrat Deluxe, we were happy we didn’t have to walk very far in search of a hotel. Also we had noticed that this was one of the good ones in that place. We checked into the room at around 7:30PM and crashed into bed. It was a nice room with TV too, we found the double bedroom decent and clean for Rs.350/-

The next day, we got up rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep. We had bath, packed up and went for breakfast at Kamat again! We found the friendly owner there, so we again discussed the plans with him. The plan was to take a bus that goes to bababudan giri, get down at Sarpana haadi (or Sarpa daari, meaning snake path). We packed lunch and boarded the private bus just in front of the hotel. It was not a very long ride, in about 45 mins we reached Sarpana haadi and were dropped off there. The bus continued to Baba Budan Giri. At Sarpana haadi we found that there was a definite trek path, we knew if we follow that we would reach the top. There was not too much confusion in the route, however in a couple of places we felt we might lose the way. It was a steep climb in some places, however since we have done tougher treks before, this was a very easy climb. We stopped on the way to enjoy the view and take some photographs. It was wonderful view of hill ranges and clouds all around us. dsc02820The sky was a beautiful blue with a white line separating it from the lower air. On the way to the top, we spotted a few raptors and other birds like the Malabar crested lark. Just as we reached the top, we saw a cave formation. Later we came to know that these were unexplored caves. The wind was blowing in our faces as we reached the top, it was an amazing experience having climbed the tallest peak in Karnataka. There is not much once you reach the top, there is a temple that was getting renovated. However the view all around is breathtaking. Though there is another easy route by vehicle to the peak, the sarpana haadi way is much more peaceful as there are no people around and the view is very good all along.

After spending some time at the top, we got down and climbed the hill just next to this. This was not any tourist spot, it was just another hill. Since there were no people there except the two of us, we decided to have lunch there. The time we spent here was one of the most beautiful and peaceful moments. We watched a few raptors hunting their prey. We also heard a jungle cat, but couldn’t see it. We spent the next few hours watching birds, trying to follow their behavior. After we were satisfied with this, we decided to walk back through the road route. This was one of the mistakes we made, since we could’ve easily got down the same way we climbed up. We chose the road instead to avoid the steep descent. But the road is definitely longer, so we had to walk 8km till the junction where we get buses back to Chikkamagalur. On the way we found a temple – Seethalayyana giri, here the priest showed us a short cut and guided us to the road. We refilled our water supply and continued our walk. dsc029171When we finally reached the junction, we were tired, we could’ve waited for the bus but we took an auto coming in that direction and reached Chikkamagalur.

We went to the bus stand to buy our return tickets after this. Without having much to do till our bus, which was at midnight, we decided to go to a small town called Hiremagalur (Elder daughter’s town) nearby. It is just 3kms away from Chikkamagalur, we boarded a bus going to Hasan and got down at the Hiremagalur stop. It was 8:30pm, and the town was already sleepy, there were hardly any activity. However we instantly took a liking to this small town due to the peace and calm we found there. We visited a Rama temple, which is what the place is mainly known for. Seems the temple is around thousand years old, of course it has been renovated now to make it look modern. The specialty of the temple is all the chants are uttered in Kannada instead of Sanskrit. As we walked out, we roamed the streets looking for some night birds, we did spot a few owls and bats. The best part of this place was the night sky was amazingly clear, we were able to see a lot of stars, star clusters, nebulae and even the Milky Way. It was a memorable sight. We then took an auto back to Chikkamagalur. Our bus back to Bangalore came at 11:30pm, we boarded it and immediately fell fast asleep, having the satisfaction of an eventful weekend!

Click Here to view all the photographs

Places Visited:

Chikkamagalur – just a base camp to see other nearby places

  • How to reach – Easily accessible from Bangalore by bus or private vehicle. Buses take 5 hours and there are plenty of government buses, road is pretty decent
  • Places to stay – Samrat Deluxe, Soundarya, many more
  • Food – good hotels available – Kamat, soundarya (both pure veg), many more

Muthodi – Wildlife sanctuary and bird paradise

  • How to reach – From chikkamagalur take a private bus that goes to Mallandur-Kolagame and get down at Muthodi. Bus starts at 7:30am and last bus back is at 5pm.
  • Places to stay – There are forest guest houses and cottages, but need to book atleast 1 week in advance
  • Food – Canteen serves decent food

Mullayanagiri – Tallest peak in Karnataka, moderate trek.

  • How to reach – From chikkamagalur take a private bus that goes to Baba Budan Giri and get down at Sarpana Haadi, from here it is a moderate trek for 3 ½ Kms to the peak. This is one of the routes, the other route is by road (no buses though, only private vehicles) through Seethalayyana giri, this reaches till the top.
  • Places to stay – None
  • Food – There is no food available on the peak, should carry food and water

Hiremagalur – Small town having a Rama temple

  • How to reach – by bus or auto from Chikkamagalur, 3 kms on route to Hassan
  • Places to stay – No hotels, if you know a local, then they might let you stay with them!
  • Food – no restaurants noticed

Folk ‘Tails’ from Kerala [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Animals, Environment by Ratheesh & Sharada on September 22, 2008

“Why do we need to line up Elephants? Why can’t we have cows instead?”. That was me, asking my grandfather a very simple question. Both of us were among the crowd at Panangattukara Pooram (Yes, not Thrissur Pooram; there are zillions of other Poorams in Kerala). As my Grandpa stood there pretending he did not hear me through the ‘Panchavadyam’ (Folk music performed during festivities), I continued; “They can always make smaller dresses for the cows right? Of course, no one can climb on top of it and stand… or can they…”. That little incident was forgotten really long ago. My grandpa never answered that question and eventually he passed away.

Today, the larger question persists. Why! Why are these mere mortals dressing up such beautiful wild animals in ridiculous attire and lining them up for visual pleasure. Were these creations of god destined to be treated like slaves? Don’t they deserve better?

“I have wandered into a lunatic asylum!”. Those were the words of Swami Vivekananda after he toured Kerala and saw the caste based atrocities there. That was over half a century ago. But if you wander through Kerala now, you will be surprised to know that the statement holds good even today. The only difference is that now I am talking about atrocities committed on animals; I will try to stick to Elephants though.

For many of us, Kerala stands for Thrissur Pooram, Elephants (with and without make-up), Beaches, Backwaters, Kathakali, Cultural Programs, Ayurveda and a lot of Coconuts. But it is time we looked beyond that. At times I am proud when I run into a complete stranger, like a Kannadiga, North Indian or even an American and they are so happy to tell me their experiences of Kerala. But my head hangs in shame the moment pictures of Elephants tortured and street dogs killed go through my head. That’s the Kerala I see. The one I wish I didn’t have to see.

As a young boy I have committed the sin of going to the ubiquitous Poorams, along with my immediate and other family members. I have touched the rough Elephant skin as they struggle to move past human ocean standing all around Banyan Trees. I have stood in my verandah at my ancestral home and watched them tied to our trees. I have fed them large rice balls out of my hand with the constant fear of being crushed or eaten up. Eventually, the same memories crush me today. I wonder why no one, not a single elder told me how these magnificent animals were captured, tortured and trained before they could play the fool for us.

These gentle giants are captured using large pits, into which they fall; sometimes fatally injuring themselves in the process. Then they are dragged out of these pits and kept continuously chained for days. Although any Elephant owner/handler would deny the use of weapons to train elephants, the truth is, they do. They continuously keep this wild animal in control by using tools such as the ‘Ankusha’, which is a sharp hook attached to a rod. I have personally seen Elephants with split ears due to continuous prodding by the Mahout (I did not know the reason then).

Although I have not personally seen torture scenes that happen behind the rosy picture that Kerala paints for us, the visuals from a typical Pooram itself is proof. For that you will have to look through the odd-number of bejeweled elephants and coloured umbrellas. Take a closer look; you will see the Elephants moving their head side to side restlessly; you will see them flapping their ears to beat the summer heat, yearning for a tree’s shade; you will see them shifting their weight from right leg to the left waiting to rest; you will see them searching for some dust to bathe themselves in since the owners scrubbed them clean; you will see an animal that is begging for some dignity.

What is interesting is, I can’t fool any Malayali with my sweet talk about Elephants. The Malayalis have already fooled themselves into believing they are ‘Elephant Lovers’. That is what I get to hear when I talk about this issue. Some of my closest people have accused me of being ‘Unpatriotic’ so to speak. Most of them tend to think that ‘Just because my fore-fathers loved elephants, I should’. Now ‘love’ elephants, I do too; but not in a way that I make a fool out of it. I hate the use elephants in Poorams for the same reason that I hate Zoos.

People like to believe that they and other fellow humans (all humans) have done our best for the Elephants by providing them with large temple fields and lots of palm leaves to eat. But the ethical question is, did the elephant come into your home asking to be taken care of? No! They did not. You took them away from their homes, tortured them till they were driven to desperation and loyalty, and now provided them with what you believe is the best they can get.

As a ten year old, I had again enquired why the Elephant was crying continuously. I do not recollect getting a satisfactory answer then, but later in my life learnt the physiological reasons behind it. But today, I would like to believe that the Elephant cries, so that we may go back home smiling. The only statement I can make is; If you really ‘love’ an Elephant, let it go; let it go into the last remaining forests in Kerala; let them roam the wild and be themselves; let them live a life that they deserve.

Your Choice [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Animals, Environment by Ratheesh & Sharada on September 4, 2008

Do we always have to choose among items/theories/ideologies as presented to us by presumably knowledgeable people? It is an interesting thought, because to be honest, we don’t have to choose. Just the fact that you are made to choose indicates that the person providing you with choices has narrowed down the answers to what ‘he’ or ‘she’ perceives as the only possibilities. This thought occurred to me when I read an article ‘Confronting Empire’ written by Arundhati Roy. Quoting from the article, George Bush provides you this choice ‘You are either with us or them’ (i.e with the U.S or the Terrorists). Arundhati’s question is, do we really have to choose between an imperialistic United States of America and some fanatic terrorists. The answer is; we don’t have to.

More often than not, you and me have been presented with choices to become a non-vegetarian, a vegetarian, a vegan or a fruitarian. But do we really need to make a decision just because someone has made the classifications? Many a times I have spoken to my friends about why I am a vegetarian. But not once I have asked anyone to become one. The reason again is the same. I hate to ask someone to choose a lifestyle which I believe is correct. What I do believe is in facts, and the kind of facts from which you make your own deductions. Your choice (categorically) does not matter; but what matters is whether you have understood the impact of your actions and whether you are true to your own self.

What prompted me to write this article is the documentary called ‘Earthlings’ which I recently watched (links provided at the end). This documentary according to me is one of the most meaningful, emotional and powerful ones I have watched till date. It is about the abuse of nature (specifically animals) to satiate the homo sapein’s greed. Incidentally ‘Homo Sapien’ means ‘Wise Man’; but its left for us to decide if we have been true to that nomenclature.

There is nothing shown in ‘Earthlings’ that I did not know. But at the same time, it is disturbing and makes me hang my head in shame. The documentary talks about the various reasons for which animals are abused and treated like inanimate objects. Specifically, the areas of abuse are for food, clothing, entertainment, sports and in the name of science.

Although almost always the arguments raised by individuals fighting for animal rights delve into the area of non-vegetarianism, many of them forget that eating animals is not something that can be entirely avoided or eradicated. So the issue that needs to be looked into first is not whether we all need to start eating veggies, but what are our sensibilities and knowledge regarding how the meat comes to your table. Most my non-vegetarian friends have never really put a thought into how the animal is killed; how much blood is shed; how much pain is undergone by the animal and how many times it must have silently pleaded to the butcher before it lost its life and satisfied their palate. Many of my friends have dismissed these thoughts are sheer panic and melodrama, but I wish they knew better.

It is not just food we must be worried about (although that is the larger worry), but it is the utter disregard by human beings for the welfare of other creations of god when it comes to satisfying many of his other needs (greeds?). Clothing for one. How many of us have really bothered how that leather wallet in our pocket was made; or how that expensive lacoste belt was manufactured. Did we bother to inquire? When such topics come up, the usual argument is that from ancient ages man has been using animal products and we continue to do so. But that is far from the truth. Man was only worried about his needs then. And more often than not, he took his bit from the forest; just what he needed, and left the rest as it is. But in the current world, animals are being bred, grown, tortured and killed just for providing us with that expensive bag or coat. Remember that these animals might not have even got their mothers milk and warmth; they would not have known what the plants, insects and the sun looks like. They just lived to die and satify our greed.

We are all currently part of a world that is slowly, but surely disintegrating (and in a way responding to our exploitation). It all started with a Tsunami a few years ago, and there has been no looking back. If you really look closely you will see the connection between our lack of respect for nature and all the issues that we face in this world today. Take a break from your daily race and put a few minutes of thought.

Hoping for a better world.

Links to Earthlings Documentary –

Direct Link (Good quality download):
http://dl.veg-tv.info/Earthlings.avi

(I have not verified if these are good or full):
Google Video version
video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1282796533661048967

Youtube versions (3 parts):
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=GhxKnys7Ryw
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=7sRiH_Owq9U
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=N8U9dw-9U4E

(Moo)ving account of an animal lover’s life [by Ratheesh]

Posted in Animals, Environment, Humour, Life, Sarcasm, Social Work by Ratheesh & Sharada on March 20, 2008

Disclaimer:
(When you see a disclaimer on an article rest assured there is something fishy about it.)
Although with its polite manner and professional etiquette this article might impress you, please beware. This is a cheap marketing gimmick by an animal lover to bring you into his circle. (Sort of like Amway, but we don’t promise to make you rich).

“You both are mad, MAD”, aunty said, stressing on the second “MAD” to make sure we heard it clear. The aunty in question is my wife’s mom, an old lady with chubby cheeks, dimpled chin and a lot of good old features you would love to see in your mom. She loves us a lot, a LOT (this time I am stressing), as any mom would.

So why would she get so articulate about our perceived mental problem today? Truth is, she was not alone. There are many people around us who think we are mad, out of our mind. Reasons? You ask. We are ardent animal lovers. (Ooooooh, I see some of you throwing this article away).

Animal lover, Animal activist; call us anything. We are a special breed. All ten of us in Bangalore (just kidding); there are about 100 of us the last time I counted (Ha Ha). We were born-guilty; guilty for whatever our pathetic forefathers have done to this planet. We constantly try to make corrections. We demand justice (we receive none, but who cares; it is easy to get permission to sit in front of Gandhi’s statue on M.G Road). We spend our money on Animal NGOs who in turn spend it spaying and neutering dogs on the streets so that they don’t bite “your” sorry arses. (“Your” as in someone who is not an animal lover. An animal lover feeds the dogs on his street, so it does not feed on “your” sorry arses).

It is not an awfully big list, but we do try to do our bit to save endangered species from extinction.(Yes! the dodo is extinct, but that is not the only one that has become extinct, you non animal lover! From this point onwards, I choose to call you Non-Animal-Lover. Now, don’t try to get all ‘politically correct’ with man-is-an-animal theory. You should’ve thought of that when you were killing so many animals just for pleasure and for food, you non-animal-lover-cum-non-vegetarian!)

Recently someone asked us what we do on weekends. “We teach English at a school and we work for animals the rest of the time”. The “teach English at school” part evoked lot of interest and appreciation. “Working for animals” evoked reactions similar to the expressions you’d have when you heard Narendra Modi won the Gujarat election a second term (something like “How??”). Animals are after all some sort of side-effect in God’s creation plan.

This is true, but people actually think we animal lovers are wasting our time; some of them think we are not really enthusiastic about it, but do it because somebody asked us to. Some others sympathize with us. (You should see the looks we get when we sit on M.G Road footpath, beside paan stains and dog poop). To summarize, they (you non-animal-lovers) think we are fighting a lost cause. (With so many animals on the brink of extinction, I am tempted to agree). But we will not give up.

“So you guys work for PETA?” our colleague at office asked us. (The kind of guy who does not know nothing about animals). “No”. We do not work for PETA, or any other organization for that matter. But thanks to their great work, PETA seems to have become synonymous with animal activism. No complaints. “Do you love children?” it was our chance to ask. “Yes”, he said. “Do you work for CRY?” We have not spoken to this guy since.

Being an animal lover is a tough job (I should be careful what I call it, some of you cunning fellows might be waiting to prove that we are being paid by Maneka Gandhi). As I said, it is not easy; first we need to convince our family that we are not mentally retarded, then we need to convince the auto driver that we are not criminals (because we are mostly loading his auto with animals, birds or snakes depending on what we do). Then there are various men and women who work at NGOs (for some folks animal loving is a job) who look at us and wonder why we turn up on weekends, all smiling and happy and ready to help them with menial jobs.

Most of us love all animals alike. We all picture ourselves hugging a grizzly bear in a perfect world (a perfect world is one where all non-animal-lover-cum-non-vegetarians have learnt their lessons). But some of us like my wife shriek at the sight of cockroaches (I am guessing many of the fairer sex animal lovers do). Then again, I do not picture myself hugging a cockroach too.

“So you say you are an animal lover?” this guy asked me once. He had the look on his face that reminded me of some lawyer in an movie. “How can you be sure that you do not hurt small insects, like you might crush ants and cockroaches while driving?” he continued. I do not remember my response (I must have smiled or something), but I do remember visualizing crushing him under my tyres some day. If all you losers out there did not (and do not) work towards a perfect world, where all loopholes are closed and all clauses are satisfied, then how can you ask us to strive for that (let me make this clear; we would like to, if you co-operate). Think about it, atleast we try. Not sit in front of the TV and watch some sixteen year olds play cricket or sixty year olds build six packs.

“So when will you be back? Will you come home for lunch?” aunty was at it again. She realized that her taunts were not going to make us give up a juicy protest march (This time some Swamiji was also supporting it for his own publicity). “We heard they are giving us biscuits (Parle-G to be precise, which both dogs and animal lovers love alike)” I replied, as we rode away on our bike, leaving aunty fuming at the gate.

Brother (or Sister) (or Others), we animal lovers are not your enemies, nor are we in need of your sympathy. We represent that part of your soul that is still humane. Accept us and be with us. Let us make this world a wonderful place to live in … for animals.

Give me blood, and I will give you the World Cup [by Sharada]

Posted in Animals by Ratheesh & Sharada on March 19, 2008

Recently I came across this ad, which offers, as one of the various attractive prizes, a chance to live your favourite celebrity’s life just for a day.
Just picture this – waking up in a soft bed, with bed coffee being served, having the choicest of gourmet food at your disposal at the snap of a finger, traveling in a luxurious, chauffer driven limousine, with fans trailing behind just to catch a glimpse, socializing with the who’s-who of the film industry, going on a dinner date with an attractive actor… Sounds extremely tempting, isn’t it? You bet.

Well, on second thoughts, I beg to disagree; especially if the celebrity happens to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni, our beloved Indian Cricket Team captain. At this point, some of you might be puzzled; some others might dismiss me as insane. I mean, why on earth would someone not like to be M.S Dhoni? Just look at him, all of 26, commanding an envious paycheck, extremely popular, leading a world champion team successfully, in short, leading a dream-life. Well, almost.

If you are curious to know why, well, for one, I wouldn’t ever take the life of a poor innocent baby goat for my success. Not for my team’s success, not for anything in the world. No, Thank You.
Why would I choose to be a cruel-hearted person, even for a day, when I am not? Why would I choose to keep aside my culture, my values and go back to being an uncultured, barbaric person? Why would I choose to be a hypocrite, hugging my pug on one day and sacrificing an innocent baby goat on another? Why would I tarnish my image and be called a superstitious, pseudo-religious, uneducated fool?
After reading about our cricket captain’s Goat-Sacrifice-for-WorldCup-Success incident (read about it here), I’m not sure how many of you might still go ahead with the idea of swapping your life with the one and only M.S Dhoni, even for a day. I surely wouldn’t. I would personally consider it shameful and demeaning to my personality. Why fancy tainted success that comes at the cost of an innocent life?

Now, some of you might think – what is the big deal? A lot of people engage in such inhumane practices. Why pick on our poor captain alone?
I can think of two reasons why; one, the fact that he is the captain of a world-class cricket team, which goes without saying that he holds a very responsible job. He not only serves as a guide to his team members, but also as a role model to millions of fans all around the world. When you are such a celebrity, your life will be closely watched, and in certain cases, emulated. So you need to take extra caution to do the right thing and ensure your actions do not hurt anybody.
Secondly, being an educated youth of India, he should understand that such superstitions and blind beliefs are to be discouraged and snubbed. It is quite unbelievable to note that in this highly advanced age, educated, well-informed people can fall prey to such blind beliefs.

Now that the damage has already been done, all I can do is hope this incident does not spark off a nation-wide mass murder of innocent animals for the sake of cricket matches. I can only hope that the youth are more rational and not emulate this brutal act blindly. It is our moral responsibility, as citizens of a non-violent country to spread the word and stop such senseless practices in the name of religion. As I continue to live in hope, I recollect Gandhiji’s famous words “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated”.

– by Sharada

Blame Them Hang Them [ by Sharada ]

Posted in Animals, Environment, Social Work by Ratheesh & Sharada on March 13, 2007

There have been so many cases of dogs killing children in recent times. I have my deepest sympathy for the parents who lost their young kids. It is definitely heartening to understand what they are going through. There is absolutely no doubt that it has been a very shocking incident.

The sad part is the people who are demanding all dogs be killed are neither concerned about the children who died or the dogs. They are selfish souls who only think about their own safety. What surprised me was, in this whole incident, the general emotion was that of anger, not sorrow. This is a very important observation since it reflects the mentality of the people. People have becoming less tolerant, more violent, extremely restless and insensitive.

What we are failing to understand is, animals are a part of nature. They have their own way of living. It is best we leave them to live that way, and not interfere. But humans have exploited them so much that the animals feel insecure. If we observe the behavioral pattern of dogs and humans, we find that in lesser-populated areas, they live in complete harmony. Dog bites, if any are treated as natural disasters and left to nature to take its course.

But as the population increases, the urbanization increased. The struggle for food and space also increased. We have added problems of overcrowded roads, unmanageable traffic, polluted environment and unclean surroundings. With respect to behavior, we have become more aggressive, less tolerant, less loving; and all these have influenced the human-animal relationship too.

People have become less tolerant towards animals and less loving towards their one-time-best-friend, the dogs. This has a direct influence on the animal behavior. Animals, sensitive as they are also start developing similar qualities towards human beings. Added to this, the food and space constraint have forced the dogs to encroach each other’s territories, often leading to bitter fights among themselves.

People are only noticing the direct results of these changes. They fail to see the root cause of the problem and hence the complete picture. On further analysis we find that it is not just the dogs that have turned aggressive, it is humans too. This is clearly seen in road rages, frequent scuffles, and insensitiveness towards others. So, these dog bites are only a small portion of a much larger, more complex problem

Assume for a minute that all dogs are successfully caught and killed. Would that solve all our problems? Would that result in a clean Bangalore with no threat to kids? I feel, infact this would worsen the problem. It would make the kids grow up lesser loving, lesser sensitive. It will increase crime, it will increase people’s temper; make them more aggressive. People who are protesting and demanding the killing of dogs are only thinking short-term. They are only looking at the tiny ripple when an entire Tsunami is out there waiting to happen.

That comes to the question, what is it that can solve this problem now? Of course it is wishful to think. We snap our fingers and all problems get solved. And the easiest way is to get into the blame game. Blame the Govt, blame the authorities, but we are sure that this will not lead us anywhere. We need a full-fledged combined effort from the Govt and the people to find a solution. Let me put down a few points for each category.

Govt:
– Assure the people that it is in complete control.
– Educate people on the rights and wrongs and the probably solutions.
– Use the media to reach out to the masses and educate them about various policies.
– Have a group of knowledgeable people to study the problem in depth without any bias
– Make a plan to dispose garbage effectively and avoid illegal dumping of garbage. This has to be monitored and have strict laws and punishment on violation
– Close down illegal meat shops in residential areas. Provide a proper, regulated monitoring system for this.
– Intensify vaccination of dogs.
– Encourage people to adopt dogs, own them and provide incentives and maybe tax benefits to people who adopt dogs.
– Study the ABC program, its pros and cons. Sterilization is not the ultimate solution for stray dog problem.
– Have a definite plan, and achieve it. Adopt a more proactive approach.

People:
– Stop blaming the Govt for each and every issue
– Understand our responsibilities towards society and follow rules laid down by the Govt.
– Keep surroundings clean, stop throwing waste on the road, open areas; use the waste disposal vans Govt. provides.
– Develop compassion towards animals. Respect live. Be sensitive to animals and educate children.
– Come forward and extend your love towards animals. Adopt a few stray dogs in your area. There will be only plus points in doing so.
– Understand the problem, learn to think logically and work with the authorities to solve it together.
– Spread awareness and take responsibility of things
– Be humane towards all creatures. This is the most important of all. Develop compassion and love.
– Slow down your life.

Stop to smile at a dog on the street. It will smile back. Show them your love and they will give it back to you.

Stray Dogs – Menace or Mute Victims [ by Sharada ]

Posted in Animals, Environment, Social Work by Ratheesh & Sharada on May 3, 2006

The trend these days seems to be “Hate Dogs!! Kill Dogs!!”. Well, everyone seems to be very happy to critisize these poor animals, which were once “Man’s best Friend”. Thats why we decided to react. Sharada took up the responsibility of writing an article which we have sent to a leading newspaper. Lets wait and watch if they publish it. Meanwhile, here it is…

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Stray Dogs – Menace or Mute Victims
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I was pained and angry to read about the attitude of people towards the stray dogs in our city. What do they expect? That the city should be swept clean of dogs and all of them taken off to some concentration camp and killed mercilessly? That animal welfare organizations are some kind of pied pipers who at the press of a button just appear out of nowhere and clear the place of dogs? I fail to understand why are they targeting their frustration towards these mute creatures? Why can’t they learn to live with them and accept these animals as a part of the community? It was even more distressing to learn that all this hue and cry was about some dogs outside their houses, which appeared to them as “ferocious”. It was not that they were bitten; it was just that they “thought” the dogs were a menace.

Consider the number of road accidents and crime committed by human beings, are these people doing anything to stop this? Or are they asking the Govt. to ban all the vehicles that caused accidents or clear up the road of all vehicles? What about the crime committed against the common man, are we killing all the criminals without giving them a chance to plead innocent? What about our own kith and kin that have cheated us, do we give them the death sentence? If not, then why the dogs? What right do we have over them that we get to decide their life, how they live to suit our whims, and when they should cease living? Is it just because they cannot speak for themselves? Or is it just our ego that we consider them lesser to us?

I am no animal activist, I am just a normal person who loves life and all creatures, irrespective of whether they are dogs, cats, buffaloes or humans and believe that we all have equal rights to live. All the animals on this earth have co-existed since ages, it is we who have entered their territory and occupied pieces of land, which we claim as ours. The animals have been kind enough to let us be. Instead of getting rid of them, why cant the people teach their kids to love animals, to make friends with the dogs, instead of building up hatred towards them?

The stray dogs are the most gentle and friendly creatures, they adapt very well to our lifestyle. Instead of complaining, why don’t these people come forward to adopt them and take care of them? They don’t have to keep them inside their marble floored houses, but at least feed them two square meals a day. Once the dogs understand that they will not be harmed, they will be extremely friendly and protect us. The children by themselves won’t hate animals; it is the parents who try to build a fear in their minds. Instead if they take initiative to be friendly and also teach the children to treat animals with love, they will not only save the helpless animals and themselves, but also build a very good value system for their children.

Just imagine, all it takes is a few kind families to come forward to adopt these animals, and there would be no “stray” dogs at all. It could be easier said than done, but it is the most simple and sensible solution that I can think of to solve this problem.

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