Wuff Wuff All Night

The universe is conspiring to give me chronic insomnia. Sleep is toxic; it wastes precious, productive hours that people can spend engaged otherwise. For much of this year, my baby boy decided it would be fun to party at 3 a.m. Now, after he has moved his partying to more respectable hours, someone else decided it would be incredibly fun to keep me up. The hyperactive stray dogs in my locality.

Stray dogs in Pune

Now, before doggie lovers pounce at me in protest, let me make this clear: I love dogs. I have always wanted to keep one at home but have been obstructed by various reasons. When I meet a happy, eager-to-please stray, I offer biscuits and pats, sometimes to R’s disapproval. Never have I been cruel to one of these canines.

Why then are they so cruel to me?

Every night at 3 a.m., after I have put the baby back to sleep, their canine orchestra begins. One of the dogs starts it off; I presume he fancies himself musical. In a matter of seconds, he is joined by his friends, rivals and foes. They howl, pretending to be werewolves and creatures of greater importance. They sing and dance and make merry, oblivious to how nights were designed for rest and sleep. Between my baby’s sleepy noises (who was the idiot who coined the phrase ‘sleep like a baby’?) and the singing/wailing dogs, I CANNOT get back to sleep.

‘How do these strays get inside the society gate? Are they your pets?’ I asked one of the security guys.

‘No madam, but we are not allowed to drive them out.’

‘They are homeless, after all,’ added a neighbor who had been listening to the conversation. ‘We should show some solidarity.’

Last I checked, the neighbor had shifted to an apartment several blocks away, reserving this one for “investment purposes”. I glared at her meaningfully. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ she enquired.

The security guard of the adjacent wing tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Madam, I know the source of the problem. It happens in the dark of the night.’

Why, the mystery was deepening! Did the doggies assume particularly musical tendencies in the dark of the night? Were they researching this at the science institutes?

‘What is the source of the problem?’ I enunciated.

‘There is this madam who comes down every morning at 3 a.m. She offers food to the dogs. They get excited and start shouting.’

‘3 a.m. is not morning!’ I exclaimed in disbelief. Who was this kind soul who believed it was wise to feed dogs at that unearthly hour? Whatever happened to the civic sense you were supposed to possess when living in a residential society? Could she not adjust her feeding time or entrust someone else with the noble deed?

‘What a kind lady!’ declared the overbearing neighbor, once again listening to my hush-hush conversation. I grasped my wallet tighter, afraid that my right hand might involuntarily thrash her.

I live in too-kind a place, where generosity toward stray animals is admired, but no one thinks twice about listening to loud music at midnight, letting their pets poop near parked vehicles, and allowing kids to scream until their voices go hoarse. I am sure that part of the wuffing my doggie friends treat me to is mere frustration at this irony. They are letting off steam. Perhaps, the next night, I will join them. I will be the kind lady who boosts the morale of the horribly off-key dogs.

Picture: https://www.dogexpress.in/

I Believe We Once Had a Sun

Well, I cannot be sure anymore. It has been over a month since I last saw it. This morning, I stood in the balcony with a cup of coffee and tried hard to ferret it out. I looked at this corner of the sky and that, squinted, even burnt one finger, but nope, no sun. The sky was lined with bad-weather clouds; thunder growled ominously in the distance. It is official: the golden glob over our heads is a thing of the past.

In this sun-less world, I barely get by. The laundry needs to be artificially dried, which means our dryer is perpetually on. Just one of the many perks of having a newborn in the house who looks his most content when he is pooping. After a long night of glorious sleep—give me a moment to do a deep-belly laugh here please—all I want to do is feel the sun on my skin. But all I get are raindrops. And dampness. And mosquitoes. And a general brooding sense of malaise. Continue reading

Unsettled

I woke up early this morning and sat upright in bed. I had woken with a start and felt extremely tired. Surely, it couldn’t be morning already! No light crept in from my ajar bedroom window; my phone lay silent. But it had to be morning for outside, about a dozen birdies chirped for all they were worth. In fact, they presented quite a rousing orchestra, punctuated by some shrill screeches and a few out-of-tune notes. I love birdsong, but just then, I wanted them to shut up and let me catch a few more minutes of sleep.

I inspected the alarm clock on my bedside table. Continue reading

Rain & Me: Old Friends Who Have Fallen Apart

Rain

There was a time, many moons ago, when I used to love the monsoon. My heart skipped a beat when it rained and my MP3 player hummed monsoonal tunes. I’d sit by the window as the rain washed the dust off my garden plants and watch everything enliven. I’d ask Granny to make onion pakoras, dip them in ketchup, and munch them with great delight.

Years have now passed since that time. Continue reading

The Shocking Red Soup

The other evening, I took home a Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. I have been suffering from a bad cold and cough lately, and Chicken Soup is extremely comforting. Mom would make it for me once, along with all the other hot foods in her collection – khichdi and kadha. I was thinking about her as I unpacked the soup and got ready to slurp. The soup was hot – and I don’t just mean the temperature – and it was delicious. But when I went to rinse my mouth later, a shock awaited me. My lips and tongue looked bloodshot. Continue reading

The Gawkers

Koregaon Park, Pune

I wonder he didn’t fall off his bike. He had stopped it an abrupt motion, and his pillion rider was also falling over in excitement. It didn’t matter that the two of them had on civil clothes and were riding an expensive-looking bike. It was not beneath them to gawk at the foreign girl walking on the pavement – shamelessly, if you please.

The two guys ran their eyes all over her, and, as she hurried past them, burst into guffaws and would-be cool jokes. They had met a foreigner that morning, thank you very much. A foreigner wearing jeans and a tee and carrying a bag of vegetables was naturally a bizarre sight, because, hey, Indian girls don’t do that! Continue reading

Winter In Pune

Mahabaleshwar near Pune

Mahabaleshwar, a hill station near Pune [www.tourindia365.com]

It actually is cold in Pune. I mean, my-fingers-are-numb kind of cold. After years of arguing with R about how Pune can never compete with Delhi in the winter department, it does seem like this quaint old city is up to the competition. No, I am not complaining. In fact, I am delighted. Continue reading