Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Caesar! You still rule.

When I reach home, it’s late. It’s after a hectic day and a grueling drive. I let myself in with the key and walk silently into my room.
By the time I switch on the lights and sink on the bed to take off my shoes, he’s there.
He jumps up on the bed, rubs himself against me and purrs.  For the first few seconds, he is happy I am home. Then the complaints begin.
That’s Caesar.  All of 16 years. Growing grumbly as he grows old.
The conversation ensues.
Yes Caesar…
How was your day Caesar?
Oh! It wasn’t great, was it?
MOW! (Now that IS angry!)
Do you want to tell me what it is?
Of course he wants to tell me. He jumps off the bed and turns around to see if I am following him. His indignant look tells me to ‘move it’ and I heave myself off the bed to follow him.
I am shown his food bowl (one of the three) – that’s only half-filled! Sacrilege!
MOW! he says.
Meaning: Look how negligent they are in this house!
From there he leads me to the toilet where his litter tray is not exactly sparking clean.
MOW! I’m told.
Yes, Caesar. I’ll clean it.
He watches as I make is squeaky clean and leads me to the other bathroom.
Woah! The mug with his drinking water is only half full. For our man, it’s a glass half empty and the entire household has failed him. Once again.
Of course, I’ll refill it for you. He watches me refill it, but of course, doesn’t drink from it.
Satisfied with the round, we come back and I settle down to watch some mindless television and he settles down to ignore me for the rest of the evening.
His work is done.
The rounds are done.
The message has been loud and clear. MOW.
The entire household is inefficient (water not filled to the brim), uncaring (fresh food not refilled every 30 minutes) and positively unhygienic (litter tray not sanitized three times by three people).
After profuse apologies, when he goes round to curl himself up with his tail sticking into my nose, I know I am forgiven and all is well.
Caesar I miss you. 
My turn to  complain now.
You left us so suddenly – almost with the same uncertainty that you came to us.
That was memorable. It was the year 1998.
Ours had been suddenly designated a ‘petless’ house. After 17 strong years, Gooch my stray cat who ruled across two households had called it quits. The children had never known a house without him. Now suddenly it seemed strange. I held out for a while, watching in amusement  my daughter went to multiple households asking if we could ‘borrow’ their pets. These ranged from turtles to a squawky but dear parrot and several smelly but adorable dogs.
Then I succumbed.
I got two cats. .  The idea was to get the children to decide which one to keep. One was a beautiful grey Persian. The other was this good looking mixed-breed who came from some suspect lineage. Bad idea! We couldn’t choose. We kept both. And with the beautiful Cleo, Caesar came with a substantial The reign of Caesar and Cleo had begun.
It’s a long story full of antics, broken pots, destroyed plants, scratched sofas and a house full of fur. (And it’s also another post.)
This one is about Caesar. Caesar, the discount cat. The cat who was given to us almost free – with a regal Cleo – who never let him forget that. Caesar on the other hand didn’t mind at all. He grew large and furry and fat with happiness. And his happiness revolved around Cleo – except for the times she didn’t let him sleep or tripped him when he walked by.
But many a times I’ve walked into hallowed boardrooms full of hushed silence and teak wood furniture and serious bespectacled gentlemen, to brush off a huge tuft of fur stuck on the side of my trousers! There have been times when unsuspecting guest have walked away from the house with an unexpected gift of a ‘fur coating’ from Caesar.
Caesar grew to be fairly social. He partied with the teenagers. Watched hindi serials with the aging.  And frequently sat through long phone calls with me. Or watched me when I worked. When bored he walked across my laptop pressing several random keys (that’s making a statement, isn’t it?) and jumped off with a nonchalant air.
He was there to greet me always, always when I got home. As he got older it was largely to complain about the lack of the children being the house. That largely meant no one was there to entertain him.
There was always a mutilated box for Caesar in the room. A box that was his playpen, his property and his plaything. Try claiming the box and he held on to it with his paws sprawled across it covering every square inch with his ample girth. Then he looked up as is to say, Try and match that Buster!
Most of the time, like most of his relatives, he slept. That of course, was the daytime activity. At night, Caesar was in his element. And almost always on the wrong side of the door.
So it’s 3 am and he wants out of the room. He checks out whether you are fast asleep. Then systematically starts dropping things off the bedside table. One by one they go crashing down, till you get up, wild with irritation and throw him out of the door. Very blasé, he walks out, having achieved his objective.
To come back, the door stopper was raised niftily with a paw and then slammed down hard. If you had just settled back down into REM mode after sending him out 45 minutes ago, you are now almost falling off the bed startled out of your skin. You open the door to yell at him and he bounds in and curls up on the bed, settles down and goes to sleep!
Beast! I say as wearily I get back in to bed. He purrs, readjusts his fatness and goes back to sleep.
In September this year Caesar left us. Suddenly. He had a night of uneasiness, after which he decided to call it a day. He left more than 16 glorious years behind him and a few broken hearts.
As we pick up the pieces of our broken hearts, we still find fur in some corners of the house.
Caesar! We miss you.
You still rule.
We still hear that indignant MOW.
We still expect to see you at the door!
I do hope that wherever you are in Pet Heaven you are purring contentedly and having fun.
I do hope all the doors are open for you and if not, you are systematically sending things crashing down.
And for those who oppose you, you can always say MOW!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 - The YEAR of the T.H.I.N.K

The easiest thing to do with New Year resolutions (and you must make New Year resolutions – I do that every year) is to copy-paste last year’s resolutions. Ideally do it without thinking. If you are thinking, do it with the confidence and conviction that this year you will be more successful.

Great plan.

But this year I went THINK. THINK. THUNK. And changed the way I made my resolutions. 

So this year is not about resolutions.
This year is the year of the year of the T.H.I.N.K. 
Here's what it stands for. And I welcome you to follow it.

T stands for Thinking about Thinking
Now, in my mind, is a peril of today’s instant technology world. You are expected to respond to Whatsapp messages now. You are expected to respond to email s now. You are expected to answer calls now or send a message now saying you’ll do it later. And then, later becomes now again!
Then there’s the immediacy of social media. Facebook asks you, “What’s on your mind?” They mean what’s on your mind NOW? Twitter wants to know, “What’s happening?”  Obviously, now. What’s happening now. Which is fine. I understand the urgency of the world wanting to know what’s happening now. I don’t understand (or have thought much about) my having to respond now.
So when the world wants to know what I am doing NOW, I am going to step back and think before I respond, and think about whether I do want to respond. It’s no longer going to be about NOW. Not about TODAY. I’ve to get thinking about tomorrow . And day after. And the week after. And the month after. And probably 2020.
I’m going to think more. Think harder, deeper, clearer. And maybe the NOW when used for thinking will bring me so revelations. (I’ll let you know, but not now.)
So here’s my advice for you. Don’t respond to those urgent things unless they are important. Think. Think twice. Think more. And it’s fine if you don’t respond at all. As long as you  thought about it. You get the drift? 

H is for Home
Home is where the heart is. It’s also where the hearth is. Well, not so in Mumbai, but hearth as a metaphor for warmth is where you need to get the fires roaring.
2014 has not been a great year for the home with some unscheduled repairs. 2015 is a good year to think about home. (See? Already, thinking!) So it’s time to warm the hearth with friends over and family get-togethers, with games played together, meals cooked yourself (even if the family members are victims of your experimentation!), home is where the attention should be pointed to this year.  And it’s not just the four walls of home – it’s about all the people in there and the ones that come and go! Home is the centre of attention this year. Try it. I’m sure I’m going to have fun.

I is for… well, I!
Time to get selfish, guys! It’s going to be about I, me myself. Concentrate on the mental, physical and a bit of spiritual well-being. Every year starts with the resolution to lose weight , eat healthy, get fit. This year is the same but different. This year the focus is shifted on I. me, myself and whatever it takes to get me better. If it means learning new lessons, taking new courses, getting intellectually savvier, so be it. Make this the year to be a better you.  And I do want to end the year better in every way. A whole lot better. More whole.  More you. A better you. I am determined to do this. So move over world, a more self-oriented me is coming your way.

N means NO
I still haven’t learnt the art of saying No. (Yes I know there are self-help books available on that subject – I haven’t read any of them) But sometimes saying No is a good idea. Sometimes it’s not. I want to be discretionary. Okay more discretionary. And this is the way you do it. I’ve regretted saying No and I’ve regretted not saying NO. I want to go back to point 1 of this year’s resolutions and think about why I am saying no and to whom and to what effect.
Oh yes, let’s any way say No to bad habits and such. No to some excesses and No to… well… to certain Yesses that we say without thinking.

K is for Knowledge
If this year stretches bare in front of you, it’s because it’s a blank page. And you can choose to write what you want on it. Look at it another way, it’s also the written page that is still unread. 2015 (like all the years before that and after) should still focus on knowledge. On knowing. More. More about things you know. Some things about things you don’t know about. 
It’s about knowing me, knowing you. It’s about knowing the difference between information and wisdom. Knowing what stays, what goes. Knowing that this too shall pass and knowing that at the end of it all you are still an ignoramus barelycircling  the periphery of a vast pool of knowledge still undiscovered. So back to  books and learning and books about learning! Stagnate and perish. Learn and evolve. Knowing is all. 

I think T.S.Eliot put it succinctly when he said this. 
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. - T. S. Eliot

2015 is the YEAR of the T.H.I.N.K.
Hope I succeed in making it so. What about you?