Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Something To Think About

Obama wellwishers should be grateful to the Salahis. Just think, it’s because of the Salahis that they are now tightening security at the White House. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would want to go to some fancy party like that, invited or otherwise, but I’m glad the Salahis did.

Monday, November 30, 2009


We are a recycling family and we try to act responsibly about what we trash. In fact, I have often felt that garbage bags should be tagged and the City should do random checks and fine people who trash recyclable items (untagged bags will not be picked up). And then I trashed the thought, it’s not as if I’m always recycling conscious. One of the things I do not recycle is Murphy’s food cans. It would be great if he were vegetarian too, but he enjoys meat and I know it’s horrible that I’m indulging one animal with the meat of another. But as I have mentioned before, I find it hard to be rigid about anything. Anyway, I do get Murphy canned food but I just cannot bring myself to wash those cans and have all the residual meat in our drains So they go straight into the trash can.

We are extra careful about broken bulbs and especially the newer compact fluorescent ones. Last evening, my husband had left a used up bulb on the kitchen counter for me to dispose off safely. I was preparing breakfast this morning and I knocked the bulb over. Crash, there was a muffled silvery sound when the bulb hit the floor. I immediately went about cleaning the broken bits with a paper towel forgetting that these bulbs have mercury. The amount is very small, of course, but it was a very unwise thing to do. I ought to stepped out of the kitchen, aired the place and used gloves to later clean up. And another no-no was that after the initial hand-cleaning, I vacuumed the place. And ours is a bagless vacuum cleaner, duh!

Gosh, I just kids we’d play with mercury on our aluminum school boxes!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Yucca Plant

Instead of repotting the 7ft tall Yucca – there were four of them -- that I rescued from the neighbor’s garbage bin, I decided to plant them in our backyard. Our backyard is small, really, really small. Originally, we had wanted a small house with a huge backyard, but we got talked into buying this property. Who needs a huge backyard in hot and humid Houston and with so many vampire mosquitoes? Yes, indeed. And we have always regretted not having an expanse of greenery to look at through our huge windows. Anyway, in this small backyard are various lines: gas, power, phone, cable. Anytime we need to dig, we have to call the various companies to have them flag the areas. Since we recently had the place flagged – when we replaced a portion of our fence – I didn’t bother getting the yard flagged again. On picking the perfect spot for the Yucca, my son got busy digging, I went into the house. Moments later, he rushed into the kitchen where I was. ‘Mom there was a small explosion and flames shot out of the ground’, he said. I called the city and they sent a fire truck and the police to secure the area. It was a Sunday morning, and the sirens got all our neighbors out of their beds. Pretty embarrassing. As it happened, my son had struck the main power line to our house. It was buried a few feet away from the fence and hence perhaps not flagged. Anyways, the tip of the shovel had completely melted. The entire shovel is metal with a rubber wrapping around the handle. My son had had one hand on the rubber part and the other on the metal arm, but had let go of the shovel the moment of the explosion and did not suffer any injuries. The emergency crew repaired the broken line. It’s a temporary fix that could last for several years or just a few months. The best thing would be to have an electrician put in a new power line. And the cost? A few thousand dollars. The Yucca is now sitting in a bucket of water, as we were instructed to do, to help it grow some roots before we plant it in the earth.

In another home, there is a family preparing to lower a coffin into the ground. These are the times when I am blanketed by a feeling of helplessness, and then I look at the sky, the trees and throw Murphy a tennis ball to fetch. He lifts his big head up and looks at me reproachfully and asks, Do you really want me to do such stupid things? No, I shake my head and tickle his ears.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009


Happy Diwali to you all, been meaning to blog but just haven't had the time. Heartening to receive eco-friendly Diwali greetings with a go-easy-on-fireworks message.

I was working in my garage-studio all night and I rose sleepily this morning to prepare my son's breakfast, pack his lunch, see him off and then I went straight back to bed. I woke to the chimes of my doorbell. Three of my neighbors were lined up outside the door, one neighbor had brought a guy to repair my fence, another needed the name of a good plumber and the third was trying to get her dog off my driveway (when I opened the door, the dog dashed in). I stood there dazed trying to process what they were saying, and I had not even tied my hair, I must have looked like Surpanagai (a demon).

On returning from my walk with Murphy, I saw a huge Yucca plant sticking out of my neighbor's garbage. I immediately rang her doorbell and asked her if I could have it please? She's not much of a plant lover, she said, helping me carry the plant to my house. I didn't know that the Yucca plant has no spreading roots, the entire plant is like an amputated limb.

I love plants but I wouldn't want to own plants that need a lot of attention. They'd probably die under my care. I love the Yucca for its Giacometti grace (and the Margarita Palm) and besides I need some huge plants for my bathroom this is great.

* Incidentally, garbage is bagged in heavy duty plastic and collected in a bin which is cleaner than most people's cars :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Born To Run

I bought myself a pair of flexible, lightweight dancing shoes that I wear around the house, my feet look as if they have been dipped in black paint up to my ankles. Much as I love walking barefoot, two weeks ago I stepped on some bits of glass from a broken peanut bottle in the kitchen. I had to go to emergency, have my foot x-rayed and then a needle pushed into my soles and the bits of glass scraped off. My foot is fine now, though I dearly wish my feet were not so flat, the other day in yoga class they got stuck on the spongy yoga mat, everyone's moved on to the next pose and here I was strill trying to move my foot.

Has anyone read, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall? Very inspiring. I'm going to get myself one of those Vibram Five Fingsrs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

...More to Rima

Eating out, did you say? tsk tsk. You should be eating more of your mama's cooking my little friend.

Now before I continue, let me say this first. A lot of people I know are overweight and they are very beautiful. Far more beautiful than I can ever hope to be even if I reach my target/ideal weight. But, for me, if I cannot hop or skip or jump I lose the zest for living. The high I feel now is not sugar induced, it's from dancing vigorously. I really ought to have been in the performing arts. Which reminds me, a friend asked me, What play did you go to at Miller Outdoor Theater? I had forgotten to mention that on my blog. Oooops. Obviously, I was more drawn to the sky and the bugs and Murphy and more. It was Twelfth Night. From where we were, I couldn't see the expressions on the actor's faces and for a while I kept borrowing my son's binoculars for a closer look and then I got distracted by the medical chopper that was flying above us, there's a hospital closeby and then I was watching a woman getting wheeled away by ambulance and wondering if she had had a heart attack and why was she sitting upright on the stretcher, yeah, an outdoor theater is not the best place for me to watch a play, there's just too much happening in life....I think Shakespeare would understand :)

Coming back to eating out, when we moved to Houston and with so many restaurants all around us, we were eating out a lot too, I used to love fried bananas, the Chinese kind (dipped in batter), and the Cajun kind (without batter). You know, some luminary once said, if I had known I would live so long, I would have taken better care of myself. When I was a little girl, I thought I should die at 40 because 40 was old age and I didn't want to grow old. But now I am well past that and certainly not looking or acting my age (whatever that ought to be, more about that later) and I do wish I had taken better care of myself. Still, it's never too late :)

Now, about acting one's age, I overheard this:

Her mother asks, What happened to your bellybutton ring?
She says, I'm not a teenager anymore.

How utterly confining that one should want to remain within one's 'age'. And whoever said that only teenagers could ornament their bellybuttons? I'm shaking my head, uncomprehendingly.

OK, I have some proofreading to do, I have been putting it and putting it off...and...OK bye, to work now :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

...Continuing my letter to Rima

The people I know are busy managing companies, writing books, giving concerts, making movies, running newspapers, building plants, treating patients, designing homes and they just don't have the time or the inclination to come comment on my blog. It's reassuring to know that they do read my drivel from the references they make to what I write here :)

We had a break-in on our street. A young man kicked open the double-doors but got scared and ran away when he set off the burglar alarm. I was speaking to the owner of the house and he said, "If that *&&^% ever tried getting in again he's going to be facing a shotgun." Then my other neighbor said, "I keep my 9mm near the bed. I'm always ready." And they both gave me advice on how to handle intruders.

We don't carry guns. A friend of mine who lives a street away has a rifle. She's from India, from Bangalore, actually, and I asked her, "Would you really be able to shoot someone?" "Of course," she said, lifting an invisible rifle to her shoulder and squinting her eyes. "I won't aim to kill, I'll just shoot him on the knee or something."


We don't own fancy gadgets. Because my husband used to be away for months in his previous job, we installed the burglar system for my personal safety. Now with Murphy in the house, I'm always scared that someone might hurt him or let him loose in an attempt to get in while I'm away -- even if it's for a short time. It used to be that I couldn't set the alarm because the motion sensors would pick him. So I got a soft leash and I confine Murphy to the entrance inside the house and then set the alarm to 'away'. Murphy is such a quick learner that now when he sees me pick up my handbag and my keys, he immediately goes to the front and lies on the cushion beside the door as if to say, hey I don't need a leash.

By the way, I lost my keys while walking Murphy. We changed our door locks but it's a hefty amount to change the car locks. And no, I didnt pray to God to help me find my keys as some people I know do. I think the good God has more important things to do than help me find my keys. We were watching a Spanish movie, Trade, the other evening. Even though I read about women and children being kidnapped and sold for sex, it was particularly disturbing. I can condone burglars, in fact, when I was a child I used to be fascinated by crime stories, but for someone to destroy a person's life for a moment of sex is something I just cannot understand. But people are people, some are beautiful and some are not. That's life, what to do, my mother would say and I often find myself echoing her philosophy.

Got some reading to do. More later.

My Itty Bitty Tips for Weight Loss

Dear Rima,
I have never been a big eater and the foods I like are mostly vegetables, fruits, and nuts. But ever since Sirocco died, my feel-good food became chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. I was going through such severe depression and everyone was trying to get me to go see a psychiatrist, take antidepressants and more -- the typical way most people handle such trauma. I refused to go in that direction, I prefer being my own psychiatrist and chocolate has always helped in lifting my spirits, but had me 15 pounds heavier than what I'd like to be. Of course, I know how to conceal the weight well but I like to be light-footed, run, skip, and fly up the stairs, activities that I wasn't doing anymore because I had grown sluggish.

The first thing I had to do was get the chocolates out. But I couldn't throw them out of the fridge because my husband likes to have a square or so everyday and he has remarkable self-control and does not binge the way I do. I'm an obsessive freak :) Sticking an unflattering picture of me on the chocolate compartment worked like magic. In fact, even when I went shopping anytime I saw chocolates I saw my fat face on it. It's been several weeks since I gobbled up chocolates. Incidentally, you'll often come across articles that advise you to keep the temptation away. In the short run it works, but all those people who do this go crazy when they see chocolates and chips in a store/restaurant. Have you read Mark Twain's, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg?

I increased Murphy's walks from two to four and even six times a day. Whenever, my neighbors see me they ask, Is this your 27th loop or what? And then, of course, my dance. Oh I lovve dancing. When I was in Gandhigram, I went to a dance class to learn Bharatanatyam and the dance teacher said that my legs were too long and I wouldn't make a good dancer. Tall and long-limbed, I just didnt fit in the South-Indian profile. Remember, they used to call me a stork? So I never learned to dance. Waaah!

Listen girl, I have to step out now, will write more later....

Lovve, Anu

Miller Outdoor Theatre

On Saturday afternoon, I went in to the laundry room to get a blanket for our evening at the Miller Outdoor Theater. Next to the washer and dryer, I have three white Ikea end tables arranged like a bench and a fourth stacked on top of the one closest to the dryer. Here's where I keep all of Murphy's towels and sheets and blankets. When I pulled out a comforter to use on the grass, that end table toppled over. I was busy stuffing the comforter in a bag with some cushions and did not immediately notice a funny odour. And when I did, I thought it was from the blankets and sheets, sniffed them, but they smelled fabric softener fresh. It struck me that I had heard a tchktchktchk sound from near the wall. What I had always thought to be a water line was actually a gas line and the quarter turn lever had tripped down, there was no plug on the pipe and the little room was filling up with gas. Holding my breath, I turned the lever up and then opened all the windows. My husband picked up a pipe plug from Lowe's, something that should have been there already. All I could think of was, hey, if ever I needed to die quietly, unaggressively, I just had to close the laundry room door, and open the gas pipe valve. So easy and painless. But for now, I got some living to do :)

Blankets, snacks, husband, son, Murphy and all, we went to Miller Outdoor Theatre. We were there a good hour and a half before the play and found ourselves a great spot on the hill close to the stage. Everyone was charmed by Murphy, especially when he started leaping about snapping up flying bugs in his great big jaws, one would think we don't feed him at all. Once the play started, he settled down on the blanket with us. and I was thinking, we were sitting so close to a multitude of people, but within that square of cloth, we felt a complete privacy. It seemed so natural for me to lie down under the sky and during intermission lift my leg and count the stars with my foot without any inhibitions and yet only a hand were people I had never met before.

The play was very nicely done.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Losing Weight and Loving It

All right, I admit, it must be terribly hard for overweight people to lose weight. BUT it's just as difficult for people like me who are not exactly fat and who are not exactly thin either to lose those extra pounds. In fact, I'm often inclined to think that it's even more difficult because we are not visibly fat, the pounds are sort of well distributed and I still wear the same size 6 jeans...oh well I have to draw my breath in a bit, wiggle into it, but still, and I wear the same size T-shirts I have worn for the longest time, of course now I have to sort of stretch the material a wee bit, but still :) Anyway, to continue, yes it's not easy. So you can imagine how elated I feel to note that I have lost a good ten pounds. All by doing fun stuff, for instance, I walk Murphy at least four to six times a day. And since the springiness sort of continues through the day, I end up dancing instead of walking from the bedroom to the kitchen, or wherever. And then a friend of mine got me a hoolahoop and I placed this on the hallway, so every time I walk by it I do a few hoolahoops. Fun. I have also added another dance class -- taught by a tri-athlete -- whoah...what a dancer she is! Last evening, I bought myself a new pair of shoes because I had worn out my previous pair. But this one was a bit too tight so I kicked them off and danced barefoot in the class. She taught us a dance from Barlovento, we dance on our tippy-toes (one foot behind the other) all the while turning, twirling, swirling, while shaking our hips. "You should see the butts of the women in that region,' the Venezuelan instructor said. "So Perfect." That was enough to get us all throwing more energy into the dance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Caruso and My Brother

Here's a picture of Caruso (I didn't change the name of our doggie in The Finger Puppet) and my elder brother. In the background is the barbed wire fence with the thorn bushes. click on pic to enlarge. Another fun picture coming up soon :-)

See? There were always snakes in our wilderness compound...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Painting and Writing

Murphy is recovering remarkably, we drove down to the middle-eastern restaurant nearby and picked up two vegetarian samplers. I prefer Whole Foods' deli but I can't leave Murphy alone in the car so it had to be one of these drive-thru places. My husband returns from Phoenix tonight and I have been scrambling to get the kitchen in order. I just discovered that the kitchen was the best place as a studio :-)

Finally, the painting I'm working on is showing signs of looking the way I had seen it in my mind -- wild colours, with bold and recognizable forms. Of India, of course, I think my soul is buried there, waaaah! Painting can be so darn frustrating sometimes. Writing too, but more so with painting because once I lay a stroke of colour, whatever was underneath is lost forever. There's no turning back, especially since I don't draw beforehand on the canvas. With writing, I can edit and edit and edit and still go back to the very first draft anytime I want to. I'll post pics of my current work when I have painted a few. My older paintings are at

I'm most creative when my husband is not around. Oh no, he's not an ogre or anything like that, it's just that he has to have the radio on in every room, he's a news and information junkie and up and about and multi-tasking and always on the go. I am the very opposite. There's nothing that I enjoy more than doing nothing, nothing, nothing. Murphy and I make perfect companions because we sit out and watch the street. It's quite a bit different from what it's like in India, of course. We might see a car or two or a dog being walked, so we watch the clouds, we watch the trees, we watch the grass and ants and lizards and study the cracks on our driveway.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weight training

It all began with Murphy's teeth which were really bad, he had a teeth cleaning in Jan but Murphy's mouth was still a bit sore and sensitive and he wasn't too thrilled about having his teeth brushed, especially those in the back. We decided to have yet another cleaning and this time -- since he was going to be under general anaesthesia anyway -- remove a few of the lipomas that seemed to be getting bigger. These can grow to the size of cantaloupes and although they're mostly benign, could be of great discomfort to the aging dog. Let's do it, I said to the vet. Three of the areas healed very well, but one of them developed a hemotoma, the swelling as big as a football. When the space where the mass was continued to fill up with fluid even after syringing the blood out, Dr Wiltshire suggested we put two drains. A few hours after the procedure Murphy climbed groggily into the back of the Acura, but upon reaching home just didn't have the energy to haul himself up. And he lay there like a rock. And I was reminded of Sirocco, how he had turned into rock, I began to panic...

What should I do?
Try to entice him with some treats the receptionist at Lakeside Animal Clinic said.
Cell phone in hand, I ran in to get some yummy treats. No, that didn't work. It was blistering hot in the car, should I keep driving around the block with the a/c on till he's ready to get up?

My neighbor, Ayanna, pulled into her driveway just then. What a godsend! She and I got Murphy up, but he collapsed in the area between the backseat and the front seat and got stuck there, his legs up in the air.

Anu, don't cry, Ayanna said, he'll be fine. It's really not as bad as it looks.

I steeled myself and wrapped my arms around Murphy's chest and dragged the 105 pound dog out. Once he was on the ground, he stood up and slowly walked into the house and once again collapsed on his bed. I knew, I knew, it was not as bad as it looked, I was prepared for all the dripping blood and the open incisions and yet I was just crumbling, the memory of Sirocco pulling me into August 2006, I had to keep telling myself, Anu, you have to be here, today, for Murphy, for Murphy, for Murphy and I snapped out of it and focused on making sure Murphy didn't try to bite the tubes sticking out of the incisions on his back. So glad Ayanna was with me.

I spread my yoga mat (finally found a use for it) on Murphy's mattress and then a sheet and some towels to soak the blood. Murphy's doing well now, I'm his 24-hour nurse, maid, cook :-)

And now to the vet, Dr Randy Wiltshire, he's absolutely wonderful. He checks on Murphy and it's reassuring to hear his voice on the phone, Murphy will be fine, he did great. Dr Wiltshire is super!

I'm going to start weight-training...Murphy's already nine, so I want to be able to lift at least part of him with ease if ever he's unable to move in his later years...

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Video clip of Suki receiving ovation at a concert by Raviji and Anoushka.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Woman On 29 1/2 Street

Inspired by a photograph someone sent me, I'm writing a short piece of fiction, about 600 to 800 words. I'm setting the story in Austin, on 29 1/2 street. The people on the street celebrate half birthdays and bake crescent shaped half cakes, it's a bit of a whacko story and so far all I have is a dribbling of words, but whenever I'm walking Murphy I find myself no longer outdoors but in a wallpapered room heavy with smells that are so oddly familiar.

And oh, I tried posting, unsuccessfully, a mini video clip of Suki (my sister's dog) accepting ovation at a concert by Raviji and Anoushka. Does anyone know how to upload a video here?

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Click on picture to enlarge.

Amma and Appa. I wish I could say 'psycho' Appa but my sisters aren't going to like that :-)

The little girl in school uniform is my sis, Sukanya.

I am the little girl on the left (horizontal striped frock). My other sis, Vasuki aka Yashodhara is the little girl on the right.

Me and my baby.

Lilla, this was taken in YOUR house.

Another of Sukanya's (my sis) magic touch :-) No, I'm not pregnant here, just the unfamiliarity of wearing a sari.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The doves have chosen the top of the chandelier in the dining room as their permanent perch. I have to plead with them to come down and eat their meals and drink some water. They eat, drink and then fly back to the chandelier. The male stays down a bit longer, sits on my computer or on the back of my chair. They have grown so big and so rapidly, like Spock on planet Genesis. Originally, I had hoped they'd stay on in our yard where other doves often congregate, but we have tall windows and these two are likely to fly into them -- in an attempt to get inside -- and drop dead.

I contacted Houston Wildlife Rehab and Education Center to check if I could bring them over. Yes, because it is a federal offense to keep wild birds captive. These birds are more like honoured guests, in fact, I'm not sure I give my human guests such care and attention. WREC has had a deluge of wildlife with the recent storms, so they were OK with my caring for these two babies (***the honoured guests are Eurasian Collared Doves, an invasive species, and are now with the Wildlife Rehab***).

My sisters and I have looked after many small wildlife in India, including snakes and tree lizards that our cats captured. Since the cats were well fed, they'd play with their prey, which often suffered minor injuries. We'd help the bird or animal recover and release them in our wilderness compound. Once our cat caught a huge rat, which dropped in our bedroom when the cat was climbing in through the window. My sister (Yasho) and I chased the cat out and closed the window and door to the bedroom. We couln't find the rat anywhere and giving up our search went back to sleep. In the morning when we woke up, we found that the rat was snuggled under my blanket and in my arms! An old bandicoot, actually. We let it out, and watched it make its way into a gutter on our street. Amma, of course, sent a prayer to the ceiling and thanked God that I had not got bitten.

By the way, I have been advised to set deadlines for my next novel. So I have to start working on my drivel and see what I can do with all those words. I have a wonderful story taking shape in my mind...just got to Work, darn!

Previous posting:

When I keep the planter on the dining table, the doves stay there and watch me work until their eyes, droopy with sleep, close. If, however, I place the planter on the floor, then they fly up to the dining table anyway and sit on my laptop screen. They don't fly away from the planter even when I'm elsewhere in the house! We eat mostly at the kitchen table. There's lots of natural light in the dining room, which faces the entrance. So Murphy, the birdies and I spend many hours here. Early mornings or in the evenings, we are outdoors or on the enclosed deck leading off our master bath.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Transformation

This is what my sister, Sukanya, does to me whenever I go to San Diego -- she loves transforming me into a graceful woman :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baby Doves

My son brought home two dove babies in a food carton. He found them in a parking lot of the restaurant where he had gone for lunch. I transferred the babies to a shoe box lined with paper towels. We are feeding them dilute bird babyfood with an eyedropper, they are doing fine.

The dove babies have grown quite a bit in the last four days! Some months ago, we had ordered take-out from a Middle Eastern restaurant and they had packed all the food in this black plastic tray. The bottom has a geometric grid and great for the birdies to learn to grasp with their feet. The sides of the tray have these large holes and during the day the birdies snuggle there. Murphy's great with them but I have a laundy basket over them -- like a cage -- for their safety.

Long ago, a baby sparrow I rescued grew so attached to me that she just wouldn't leave the house. Our puppy Karun and she would play together. Kiki, the bird, thought she was a dog and when I called out, Kiki, she'd come running up my leg and climb onto my shoulders. It was a big task trying to get her to fly because she preferred running (like you, Ammani). She injured a wing in a running race with Karun. I took her to the vet and she was doing fine, but we were persuaded to put her in a cage, for her safety. The very day I put her in a cage she died.

Here's a pic of Karun and Kiki.

I just had a shower hence the towel around my head). The potted plant was Kiki's perch.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miracle Juice

I have always been enviably healthy and I often feel guilty when I print, NONE, against the long list of diseases and ailments and disorders on medical forms. Any medications? NONE.

Lately I have been suffering from a recurrent cough. My sleep deprived husband had quite enough of my, it will go away on its own. This sort of foolishness must run in your family, he said. My cousin A died last year because she refused to be treated by a physician, she was very much into holistic healing. My resistance to modern medicine is just that I hate taking pills, I invariably forget to take them at the right time and I know I can mess up my system really badly if I don't follow the instructions.

My husband would have none of my reasoning and rushed me to the Minor Urgencies clinic on Westheimer. Just as I expected, the doc prescribed me an antibiotic. The cough persisted. Once more, I went to see my doc, maybe it was not the right antibiotic, she said. I don't want to take any more medications, I said. You're being very irresponsible, she said. But my pomegranate juice is working fine, I haven't coughed as much in the last couple of days, I said. She prescribed me an inhaler. Good heavens, I have never had asthma, I don't want to be inhaling anything. But your lungs are so tight, I can hardly hear you breathe, she said. If you have another of these attacks, your lungs will collapse and you could just die, she said, reading the results on my pulmonary test. 42%. I want you take all this seriously, I'm sending you to a pulmonary specialist and if he prescribes you medicines, I want you to take them.

So I went to the pulmonary specialist, he gave me a sample inhaler and prescribed me a cough medicine and asked me to come back in two weeks so they could do a series of tests.

I took two puffs of the inhaler, it was so bitter and the aftertaste just wouldn't go. Of course, if I had read the instructions before using it, I would have known to rinse my mouth with water after. Anyway, I decided not to use the inhaler. As for the cough medicine, I did not think it good to suppress my cough, let nature have its way. I continued drinking my pomegranate juice till the cough, vanquished, departed.

Last evening, minutes into rearranging my closet, I had a coughing fit and I could hear my doc's voice in my head, your lungs are going to collapse and you will die. I had no idea where I had tossed the darn inhaler so I headed straight for the fridge and drank some pomegranate juice. Guess what? I stopped coughing instantly, magically. Placebo or not, pomegranate juice works for me. The only thing that bothers me is the high sugar content and all my recently lost weight is creeping back again, waaah!

ps: I must remember to cancel my appointment with the pulmonary specialist.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easy Meals

I hate cooking. When I'm by myself, I can fill up on a fistful of mixed nuts, some raisns, some yoghurt, some raw peppers...of course I spoil all this healthy eating by devouring a whole box of chocolates. But as a good mother, I make sure that my son is fed well. Here are some foods I prepare for him:

Vegetable soup.
Empty a carton of Central Market organic vegetable soup and a bag of frozen vegetables into a pot. Boil just a bit, don't overcook, add pepper and salt. Serve.

Italian Meatless Meatballs.
Saute one chopped onions and a pack of frozen meatless meatballs in a pan, add diced tomatoes, close lid, turn off stove. Serve with bread or pasta or rice or tortillas.

Spinach Curry.
Lightly saute one chopped onion in a pan, add frozen spinach, pepper and salt, close lid, turn off stove. Yummy.

Vegetable Curry
Other frozen vegetables can be prepared the same way with some curry powder or crushed red pepper instead of black pepper.

Raw foods Drink
Blend Kale, lemon, ginger, carrots, beets or any other vegetable in apple juice (or other juices). Don't worry about right proportions, the random picks gives the drink a unique flavor each day. Vita-Mix blender works great because you can toss in whole tomatoes and large chunks of veggies.

Microwaved sweet potato
Microwave sweet potato for 7 minutes. Enjoy.

A bowl of cherry or grape tomatoes, whole green, yellow and red peppers, carrots and cabbage to snack on.

My husband enjoys cooking, so when I'm in Houston I don't have to worry about what to cook. Or we eat out. I absolutely lovvve Middle Eastern cooking. In fact, I just got myself a vegetarian platter from Fadi's. Nirvana.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back To Writing

I'm back in Austin. The moment I come to Austin I have this great big itch to write. In Houston, I get caught up by everyday life, which is more orderly there. Here in the Austin apartment, dishes pile up in the sink, foodspills on the kitchen counter, clothes and shoes and things on the floor, on the sofa, just about everywhere. All I have is a bed-size space to myself, but my mind is wandering all over the place and I return with stacks of sentences. Of life.

Murphy is curled up like a cat with Yadav, the two are sleeping. For breakfast, I had a samosa. There's a doughnut shop here that makes samosas at night and we had bought a few last night. Yummy.

I forgot to pack so many personal items this time because I was obsessing over Murphy. Did I pack Murphy's toothbrush and dental paste? Did I pack Murphy's towels, his grooming brush? Did I pack Muurphy's treats? Did I put a bottle of water along with his bowl and his bag of food? I hadn't packed my own toothbrush, not even my comb. Of course, everything's closeby and I can always buy them here, and Murphy loves shopping. What I'm kicking myself for is forgetting to unload the dryer which had all my gymwear. I was at Academy last evening to see if they had the same style I had bought last year, mine had a very nice cut and I have even gone out for dinner with those Nike gym pants. I'll try Sports Authority today. I slept in jeans last night (or whatever was left of the night). For a long time, when my husband used to travel a lot, I would feel terribly vulnerable to be wearing just a nightie. So I'd always sleep -- fully dressed -- like a cowboy.

OK got to get back to my writing.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Best Way To Die

In a perfect world she should be able to die when she wants to. And it should be as casual as having her nails or hair snipped. She’d like to be able to step into an assisted suicide salon and say, would you please snip my life today? They could harvest her organs, attach them inside someone who’s more in sync with this crazy world. If she were living in a country where she might be able to get her hands on some sleeping pills, she could take an overdose as she had once upon a time and had to have her stomach pumped out. Unpleasant stuff, especially because she was forced to drink coffee. She hates coffee. Can’t stand the smell of it. Even phenyl tasted better, though she should not have tried drinking it. That's for killing insects. It would take a lot more than a few sips to burn her inside out. Should she slash her wrists again? How deep into the flesh must one cut for it to be effective? But that would require a certain amount of aggression to do a good job. She massages the thin scar that now looks like a white bird in flight on her arm. Hers was a feeble attempt, a call for attention. How should she do it now? When a hurricane left her city without power for many days, people set up generators in their garages. Some inside their homes, killing all those who inhaled the fumes. Since then, she has been thinking that she might get herself a generator. Freshly showered and dressed in her prettiest clothes, she would lie comfortably on her bed and get the generator going. But it would be a while before anyone notices and her body would have begun to decompose. No, she wouldn’t want to smell so bad and besides, she would have liked to have donated her organs. There must be some better way, she thinks.

Have been meaning to write a story on that, but I got waylaid by another idea. I thought I'd jot it down, to remember :) My thoughts are far from death. Had a bowl of double chocolate ice-cream at Marble Slab Cremery at Red River in Austin and I'm wide awake and all set to write through the night. Murphy and Yadav are watching a show on TV.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Garbage Picker, the Fashion Model, and the Novelist

Two truck sized garbage bins stand side by side at the back of our apartment complex in Austin. After walking Murphy, I drop the biodegradable blue bag of poop into whichever's lid is open. This afternoon, what at first glance seemed like a man dropping in something into the garbage bin was actually a man picking out things from the garbage.

Should I go for another walk around the block carrying my bag of frankincense? The man digging in the garbage bin had seen me, but I couldn't see his face because he had his cap pulled over it and the collar of his jacket came right up to his ears. Only a glimpse of black skin showed that he was not this predominantly white neighborhood.

Would it be more offensive if I walked away?

The man pulled his cap down even more, gathered his bag of small treasures and left.

I dropped the poop bag in the cornermost section of the garbage bin.

I was thinking about the man a lot. If he had the right opportunities, what would he be, where would he be? Could he have been a novelist?

Recently, I got into discussion with another blogger who scoffs at fashion models. Inferior, she says of them, because their 'only claim to fame is their looks'. Hmmm. Why do people feel that anyone who has gone to the top with just their face and figure has to be empty-headed? Unless their brains were damaged at birth or through accident or some other way, most humans are born with a tremendous amount of talent and intellect. All varying degrees of course, but as humans, aren't we all equal? I'm unable to decide what profession or person is superior and what is inferior. Is the astronomer gazing at the craters on the surface of the moon more intelligent than the esthetician studying the pores on the human skin? Is the artist painting a canvas more brilliant than the one who paints on her face? For all I know the street sweeper may be a born politician, and many a politician might have done the world more good by sweeping streets. And as for novelists, I think we are also scavengers and garbage pickers ourselves, digging in other people's and our own garbage for goodies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rima, Bipasha, Razigan (I'm in a driveling mode)

Rima, Razigan,Bipasha,
Gory as it might me, it's good that PETA is raising awareness by capturing such inhumane acts on video and playing it on their website. From there on, I started thinking of the acres and acres of land that had to have been dynamited and flattened for manufacturing facilities to produce all these cameras and airplanes and wireless towers and computers. Imagine the lives of the terror-stricken big and small animals trapped in land that's being cleared for our use, for our highways and homes. What fear and pain do the poor creatures undergo? I know of week old puppies pooping out their intestines, frightened by the bursting of fireworks during Deepavalli. Does it become less horrific if an animal gets skinned alive, burned alive, chopped up alive by bulldozers and other machinery than by the bare human hand? How different am I from the woman wearing a fur coat that was torn off a live animal? Hmmm..I think, thinking is a hazardous occupuation for me, for I'm unable to think from any single viewpoint and I have been tying my mind in knots trying to understand our role and responsibility in this world.

Bipasha, a long time ago, in Montreal, a groundhog died under the wheels of my car and I sat on the middle of the street and sobbed and sobbed. A stranger lifted the limp body from my arms and helped me back into my car. At that time, I was sampling meat even though I was raised a vegetarian. I enjoyed the taste of chicken especially when prepared in Indian curry masala style and if the final product bore no resemblance to the live animal. So I was OK with eating an animal as long as long as someone else was doing the killing and its body parts came packaged -- neatly sliced or minced -- on little white trays in supermarkets??? I went back to my vegetarian ways. But, tell me, Bipasha, since I eat vegetables and grain, should that stop me from protesting the destruction of forests and vegetation? Hey, you can be a non-veggie and still fight/plead for the humane treatment of animals. Since you enjoy chicken, raise some at home, give them love and enough space to run about and then kill, eat them if you wish. I honestly don't see anything wrong in people eating meat...we do worse things to the living animal. the ones that end up in slaughterhouses are the lucky ones...the animals that are alive and attached to carts and carriages and hobbled and whipped, probably wish they'd be slaughtered.

Razigan, I'm very much an escapist myself. Besides, I have had my share of life's horrors and I, guiltlessly, wallow in happiness, mostly. But ever since I wrote The Finger Puppet, I see a change in me. For the better, I hope. Some riot, some write. Both useless endeavors, really, because all the great minds and all the great revolutions have done little to bring about any great change in the human. I wholeheartedly agree with your mama about the human being, Rima. By the way, I'm dying of curiosity to see the specially for me post on your blog.

Lovvve, Anu

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Glorious Morning

Just got back from a run with Murphy. And light as my body is when I fly up the stone steps of the apartment complex, remnants of the horror I felt on seeing the PETA video on the fur farms, weigh me down. Normally, anytime I see or hear of something of that nature, I just want to fold up and die or I quickly blot out the terrible things and get back to my clown self. This time, I find myself wanting to do something about it...

OK, got to get some work done, I'll pop up here a bit to stay in touch with you all. I'm absolutely loving the Toshiba Portege. Last evening, I was traipsing about holding it in one hand and I tripped on a coathanger on the floor of my son's apartment, I flung out my arms to steady myself -- without dropping the laptop!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Bipasha, I received your multiple comments, many thanks. I have my comment moderator on, so any comment after 2 days (I'm going to change it to perhaps a week) has to be approved by me. Sounds pompous, but if I don't have the moderator setting on, then I'd never know if someone has left a comment on my earlier posts. I hate to miss even a single comment, and I'd feel terrible if I didn't respond or acknowledge. All of your comments are very valuable, especially from those of you I have never seen, because through the black print I can have fun imagining your personality :-)

By the way, I love that. Word of Mouth. How very appropriate for The Finger Puppet! I really was so disheartened that I never got to even see my book on display when I was in India in 2008. I'm so happy to know that 'ardent readers' are discovering the book.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009


So there was a carnival at the Alliance Francaise. As usual, I dug my heels in and refused to go. Beloved Fate came to my aid and injected me with flu symptoms, I was coughing all week, but my husband was determined to drag me out and he pumped me with garlic soup and loaded me in the car. A few swigs of Pepsi at the carnival and I changed into a butterfly, flitting about, talking, laughing, dancing. I had to be plucked off the dance floor and brought home. And I was still dancing. Oh I can get high, so high, without taking a sip of alcohol.

My laptop should be here on Tuesday....the word's lightest and weighing only 2.4 lbs!

lovvve, Anu

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Face on The Finger Puppet

Anoushka was the first baby I carried in my arms, the first baby I bounced on my lap, the first baby I recited poetry to. Until I held Anoushka, I used to hate the thought of caring for babies, but that would all change...and I had Yadav.

For the face on The Finger Puppet, Anoushka's face seemed the perfect choice. Especially when I took this pic of her and Yadav in Austin. But I didn't want to hurt the feelings of my very many nieces, so I decided to draw a generic face on a blown-up image of my thumbprint. As it turned out, the face on The Finger Puppet still looks a lot like Anoushka :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lovvve, Anu

I had a lot of fun playing here. Now I have to retreat into myself and do some serious writing. Thanks for your comments...I absolutely lovvve the interaction. Email me at or leave a comment here. I promise to respond.

Rima, dear, I shall always have a special regard for got me to blog and through blogging I have found my voice for the next novel.I pretty much do my first draft the way I blog, to heck with grammar, that sort of thing.

Razigan, I shall take you up on your offer to read my manuscript :-)

Murphy's Mama, thanks again for giving me Murphy, for a happiness I never thought I'd find again.

Ayanna, Gay, see you in dance. Our morning cardio is especially great, we have some interesting discussions before class. This morning, it was all about legalizing drugs and prostitution.

Lilla, will talk to you this weekend. Lilla and I have known each other for about 25 years and she has been through two divorces and is now single again. Hungarian, peaches and cream skin, short blonde hair, hazel eyes, great dancer, very loving and creative. Any man interested in her will have to have an interview with me first.

Anonymous, thank you. When I was a child, I was very fond of poems written by Anon in Palgraves Golden Treasury. So varied in style, I'd think, not knowing that Anon was short for anonymous.

Venkat, Lynn, LAC, Tripti...many thanks for stopping by.

Lovvve, Anu

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolates for Thought (sorry, I'm in a rambling mood)

If a chocolate is available at a drugstore, then it can't be the kind that will have me devour a whole box of them. With this in mind, I got myself a bag of Dove's Promises -- squares of chocolates with a creamy caramel filling -- and tucked it away in the butter compartment in the fridge. Since I don't care for caramel, I could just nibble a bit on the chocolate coating and dump the rest, fool myself into thinking that I'd eaten the whole piece. Certainly better than chewing on a chocolate and then spitting it out, the way a friend does.

Chocolate craving time came and I took one square of chocolate and nibbled on the exterior, as planned. But my tongue clung to the caramel and refused to let go and I had to eat the whole square. That was not all. There was a message on the inside of the unwrapped foil.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

It ought to be a single step...more punch to it. Of course, I had to read more of these messages. I took the bag of chocolates with me and settled on the sofa.

happiness is in the heart, not in the circumstances.

Tell that to the dogs and children being abused, tell that to the prisoners being tortured, tell that to people being blown up by a bomb, tell that to someone who's just lost a dear one. Give me a better one, please.

Listen to the Wind

Ah that's nice. I leaned toward the window and caught the sound of a distant fire engine. I thought of the time when my previous neighbor had dialed 911 because she believed my house was burning. Three fire trucks and cop cars drew up alongside our house and I had to explain to them that it was a false alarm. Just some weeks before that incident, my previous opposite house neighbor, Sally, yanked me out of the house and we went for a walk around the neighbourhood with our dogs.

Sally: Anu, is everything all right with you?

Anu: Yyyesssss. Funny, XX (my next door neighbour) keeps asking me the same question. She phones me at odd hours and asks me if I am all right. Of course, I am all right. I mean, whatever all right means. Does she mean all right in the head or does she mean all right in the body? You know Sally, I think XX is going crazy.

Sally is silent and then she says: Anu, she thinks that Jay is abusing you and she's very concerned. Her son, came over to our house the other day and
he wanted us to make sure you were all right.

Anu: Jay abuse me? Good heavens, no! If anything, I'd say he's the one that is the abused :) (I start to laugh).

From then on, I'd be terrified that if I died innocently (is there such a thing as an innocent death) XX may end up accusing my husband of murder! Not only would he have to deal with the grief of my death, he'd have to deal with all the unpleasant stuff of having to prove that he is innocent :o

Sally was relieved because she is very fond of me. When I went to India, last year, she was so concerned I might starve in India that she bought me a big box of protein bars to see me through a month's stay.

Anyway, after the fire engine false alarm, XX eventually got admitted to a hospital/home.

I sighed, and opened another chocolate.

Call a friend and set a date to get together.

OK, OK will do....later. Can't you see, I'm curled up on the sofa with my Murphy baby, the bestesstttt friend ever. If two years ago, someone had said that I'd love another dog this way, I'd have been mortified. God knows I loved Sirocco so much that I died when he died. And yet, here I am, loving this dog, Murphy, so much and Sirocco is becoming an illusion. Life is indeed very strange, but beautiful.

Feel the grass under your bare toes.

Oh, mmmm... sure, carpet will have to do for now. I dropped my socked feet to the floor. My feet get so cold that if one foot touches the other when I'm asleep, I wake up startled. And we are having a cold front, sorry I'm not baring my feet until summer. What's next?

Feel the grass under your bare toes.

You just said that. Oh come on, give me something different. There were five messages asking me to feel the grass under my bare toes. I refused to comply and ate the rest of the chocolates and stopped reading the messages. I guess the chocolates sold in drugstores can be just as good as the Belgian ones :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Austin Trails

Murphy and I catch the trails at the craggy overhang off Lamar and 30th. It's absolutely a delight to walk Murphy because he's so obedient. I have had him for just over a month now and when he takes off after another dog, I call out, MURRFFF, and he dashes to my side. On the stretch between 24th and 29th, pets are allowed to be off leash, and dogs rub noses, sniff bums and try to hump each other. Mutt-mitts for easy disposal of poop are available at various points on the trails.

Some owners let their dogs off-leash even in non-designated areas. I'm tempted to do this, but a couple I know are suing the owners of a dog that dashed in front of their tandem bike and had the two riders landing on their heads. That's a strong enough deterrent for me not to have Murphy off the leash where he's not supposed to be off leash.

We stopped to watch disc golf -- frisbees as golf balls and chainlink nets on poles, as holes. Fun. Not so fun when I found myself scratching my tummy which looked as though a dozen red bindis were stuck on it. Fleas? Murphy is on Sentinel, but he's going to have a flea/tick shampooing right now. It's such a pleasure to bathe him. He joins me in our shower-stall and enjoys all the grooming and fussing. I do hope he's not a lecherous old man reborn as a dog :-)

Shiv Sena

I was in Whole Foods standing in line at the cashier. The woman in front of me was in a wheelchair, she had a bag slung on the handles of the wheelchair and held another on her lap. In these two bags were all her groceries. Politely declining assistance, she wheeled her way out and waited for a bus for the handicapped to pick her up.

She was young, with straight, blonde hair stopping at her jawline in a trendy cut, but what got me talking to her was her dazzling smile, her white beautifully aligned teeth.

'You're so beautiful, I said. 'And I absolutely love your personality.'

'Oh thank you,' she said.

'Are you in a wheelchair...because of an accident?' I asked her.

'No, I have a degenerative disease,' she said. 'I hear there might be a cure for it this year'. Her mouth twisted to one side as she spoke and I had great difficulty understanding her.

'What's it called?'

It sounded like frieder's Attack. I did not ask her to repeat the name, confident that I'd be able to google it. And I did. It's called Friedreich's Ataxia.

I was thinking, we have so many things that can go wrong in us and instead of cherishing all that we have, we go about destroying each other, and often in the name of religion. When I hear of violence from Hindu groups and, recently, of the pub attack in Mangalore, I'm completely at a loss to understand their thinking.

I'm very curious to know what the Shiv Sena has to say of The Finger Puppet.

Andres Rosales

I'm back in Austin. On the way, on 71, a cop stopped a speeding motorist and I immediately glanced at my speedometer. As always, my speed was well under the speeding limit. With Murphy in the car, I am extra careful. I wondered though what Murphy would do if a cop thrust his head in our car? Would Murphy bark as he does when someone approaches our driveway? Would the cop be startled, pull out a gun? My thoughts spun into a dark comedy as I drove on.

In Bastrop, I pulled into a well-lit gas station and then forgot to turn on my headlights when we got back on the road. I saw the flashing lights of a cop car in my rearview mirror and I exited the highway, parked on the shoulder of the road and waited for the cop's face to materialize. Murphy got up. Stopping again? He thrust his big head in front just as the cop walked over to the passenger side. I lowered the window about two inches.

'I have a dog, I said, even though the cop would have seen Murphy's silhouette through the rear window.

He turned his flashlight on Murphy.

'He's extremely gentle,' I said.

'Can I have your driver's license?' he asked.

First I gave him my credit card, and then my Yoga class card. These days MAC does not charge for Yoga, but I had bought it a year ago only to drop out when I found that I was the only one in the entire class of non-Indians who could not sit cross-legged. Anyway, I kept pulling out various cards, like a magician, from a slim slot in my purse -- specially designed for the driver's license. The cop waited patiently, shining his flashlight on my handbag while I rummaged through the many compartments.

'Here it is,' I said, ‘I knew I had it somewhere.'

He disappeared with it and returned some minutes later. 'I'm giving you a warning this time,' he said.

‘Thanks,’ I said. He really was the nicest cop I have ever met and so I asked him for his name, because that’s not always legible on the ticket/notice. ‘I want to blog about this.’

‘Sure,’ he said, giving me his card.

If all cops were like patrol officer Andres Rosales, being apprehended for a traffic violation may not be such an unnerving experience.

After Slumdog Millionaire

Full of clich├ęs though Slumdog Millionaire is, there were some very compelling images that had me revisiting India in my mind. Hence the long silence...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Our house in Chennai, India, overlooked the Buckingham canal on whose banks mushroomed huts of mud and thatch. From up on the terrace, I could look into the homes, hear laughter and song and gossip and brawls. Dog or slumdog, flung at one another and intended to insult, would have me bristling.

‘Don’t insult dogs.’ I’d yell from the terrace revealing myself.

Everyone in the slums knew us or rather, of us, of our love of dogs and creatures. There were always a bunch of strays hanging about our house and guarding our gates. Many of them victims of abuse and rescued by my mother. These slumdogs showed a love and loyalty that very few humans are capable of.

I was very surprised to read this,

I love the title, Slumdog Millionaire, and I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Over the years, we have grown accustomed to watching DVD’s at home, because I’m usually so cold in the theatre. But for the first time I feel awkward to admit not having seen a movie that all my friends have and are raving about. So this weekend we shall watch the movie on the big screen.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

This is Murphy’s 36 x 48 orthopedic bed. He chose it. Like Goldilocks, he tried the variety of snugglies and snoozies I spread on the floor in Petsmart. Too floppy, he said, rolling off a giant pillow. He didn’t like the boxed-in feeling of the ones that look like a fluffy bathtub. Perfect, he said, stretching himself on this one. I’m going to get another of the same – Road Companion – for his car rides.

After Petsmart, I thought I'd go to the grocers, but of course I couldn't take Murphy along, so I had to leave him home. I hate to be separated from him for even a few minutes. I am tempted to keep my sunglasses on when I enter a store, tap a cane and get Murphy to pretend he's my Seeing Eye dog.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cold Hands Warm Heart

It's freezing here, I say to a friend.

How did you ever manage to live two years in Kapuskasing? she asks.

And I snivel. In kapuskasing I had a parka, I had thickly lined boots, great big woollen scarves, gloves, mitts and all you could see were my eyes. In Houston, I am unprepared for the cold. I gave away my parka and scarves and mitts and inch-thick socks, because I never wanted to have to use them again. Any trips to Canada or elsewhere would have to be in the summer.

I forget how cold it can get even here, in winter. Why did GM have to go all the way to Kapuskasing to do their cold weather vehicle testing when they could have done both the hot and cold weather vehicle testing right here in Texas?

And guess who takes Murphy out in the cold morning? Though I seem to be the only one in the neighborhood with a hoodie. Perhaps my blood is not designed for the cold. In Montreal, a friend of mine and I went looking for her Afghan hound, Melinda, and at the end of the walk around the block, my hands were like dead fish and her seventy year old hands were so warm as she took mine in hers and massaged them back to life. Even on warm days, anytime I have to shake hands with someone, I have to first rub my hand on my clothes before offering it. And then I wonder what was the last thing that the other hand touched before it grasped mine. Here, my imagination runs wild....

We Need More People Like George W Bush Now

An in-law forwarded me a list of Bushisms. And I was laughing and laughing and laughing. If laughter is good for the mind and body and soul, then surely George W Bush is the best thing that ever happened to America. Now. In this desperate times. It's a good thing I didn't go out and say this, because I hear that he's the one that caused all this in the first place.

I have posted the forward below. Are these quotes for real? Some of them could easily have come out of my mouth, for instance, 'I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them.' George W Bush and also said by Anu Jayanth.

Actually, one of the reasons I was terrified to do public speaking, because I really can say the darnedest things. Think, my husband always tells me, think, before you say or write something. I have taken his advice and I do think a bit before I press the publish button. Or do I?

'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'
- George W. Bush

'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
- George W. Bush

'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'
-George W. Bush

'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'
- George W. Bush

'The future will be better tomorrow.'
- George W. Bush

'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.'
- George W. Bush

'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'
- George W Bush

'We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe . We are a part of Europe '
- George W. Bush

'Public speaking is very easy.'
- George W. Bush

'A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.'
- George W. Bush

'I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them.'
-George Bush

'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'
- George W. Bush

'For NASA, space is still a high priority.'
-George W. Bush

'Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.'
-George W. Bush

'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
- George W. Bush

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


He sends her pictures of birds that come to his backyard. He keeps a bird book and binoculars on his kitchen counter and is quite an ornithologist. Odd, she says, the way people are crazy about watching birds in the wild and then gobble a farm raised bird on their plate. As if because they have raised them, they have a right to kill them.

Well, that is correct, he says. They wouldn't have a life if it weren't for us.

In that case, she says, shouldn't we be eating our children? After all, they wouldn't have a life if it weren't for us.

Taking the Grrrr out of Murphy

I can hug Murphy, roll him over, scratch his tummy, do just about everything I used to with Sirocco and he greedily laps up all the fuss and attention. But there is a Grrr in him. And that comes out when he's gnawing on a chewie.

Murphy, no grring, I said, laying my hand on his head.


Disregarding his grrrrr, I brought my hand toward his paws. He snapped his great big jaws at me.

This happened on the second day he was with us. Murphy was not the only dog in his previous home, so it's possible that his little doggie friend might have attempted to steal Murphy's treats. I want Murphy to have absolute trust in me, so if ever I need to take something from his mouth, I will be able to, without him biting my hand. I started handfeeding him his meals and then, later on, every time he was eating, I draped my hand inside his bowl, so he got accustomed to my hand being close to his mouth and to eat his food carefully without chewing up my fingers. And when I gave him a chewie, I held on to one end, so Murphy was forced to stop chewing as the chewie grew smaller and smaller and my fingers got in the way.

Today I gave him his chewie and after a few minutes, as he was working his way into it, I slipped my hand between his paws, he stiffened, covered the chewie swiftly with his paws, but did not grr. It's only couple of weeks now. I'm sure in a few months, he will be fine with my taking his chewie from his mouth when he's eating it. If not, I get bitten, no big deal. After all, he’s had his rabies shot.

Which reminds me, when we were living in Kapuskasing, I had a lab mutt called Karun (I had named him after my brother-in-law). Karun had a bit of the terrier in him and was a biting dog. Once, when the newspaper boy reached out to pat him on his head, Karun bit him hard, drew a lot of blood. I rushed the boy to the hospital and then phoned his dad, told him what happened.

“As long as it was not a wolf, that’s OK,’ said the dad.

Back in Houston

On the drive back to Houston, Murphy nudged my shoulder with his nose when he wanted to step out and I pulled into the nearest gas station that had a good patch of grass. We stopped at Bastrop and La Grange. Between these two towns, I came upon Still Forest Dr. Can a forest really be still? Yes, in winter, says a friend. I’m not convinced.

We got back well before my zumba class. I have also added cardio-dance to my morning routine. Many of the moves we make are very Bollywoodian. Fun. And what a workout of the hips and belly. When I left the house this morning, it was sooo cold and I had actually worn my heavy winter jacket, but when I came out of the club, all I had on was my gym wear and I was feeling uncomfortably warm. I lovvvvvve dancing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pizza with real cheese

I asked my son to pick up a vegetarian pizza from Conans. But please, please can we have regular cheese this time? Yadav is vegan and so he usually orders soy cheese and it just isn't the same.

OK, pizza's arrived....with real cheese!

We leave for Houston tomorrow. Murphy does not care for the apartment -- No big glass doors and windows to look out of, he says, mournfully.

Oh the Things I do!

Nueces and Rio Grande are one-way and run parallel to each other. I found myself driving in the wrong way and had to turn around and go with the traffic flow, while everyone waited good-naturedly. In Houston, I once entered a narrow alley beside a strip mall along the 59, there was a delivery truck coming toward me and I did not want to back out on Hillcroft, which is a very busy street. I got out of my car, gave the keys to the truck driver and said, please could you turn my car around for me? And he did cheerily.

Your luck with people is going to run out one of these days, my husband warns me, because I really can do the stupidest of things. For instance, when I was in my twenties and walking down the street in downtown Chicago, I met a young man with a dog, a black lab. I stroked the the dog's head and I chatted with the young man. You're an artist, he declared and was very interested in the pencil portrait I was working on. Oh, would you like to see it? And I invited him, this total stranger, to the apartment -- in my husband's absence! To this day, my trust in people has not been betrayed, perhaps I have a dog's nose for finding the right people. Touch wood :-)

In Austin

I'm OK sleeping on the fold-out Ikea sofa-bed in the living room of this apartment in Austin. But there was a dead roach on the floor and so I climbed into my son's bed. It's a queen size bed and Murphy lay in the middle, and my son and I on either end; I was pressed against the wall in a narrow length of space because Murphy had his back toward me and was pushing on me, as he stretched and stretched and stretched comfortably. I didn't want to wake up either of them so I lay still and imagined I was sleeping in an enormous bed and woke up feeling extremely refreshed, as if I had indeed slept in great comfort. And perhaps that is what saw us through the sordidness of our childhood. our ability to imagine a world of beauty -- and life was beautiful.

Murphy and I went for a very early morning walk and the streets were deserted, not a sound from any house, not a car or human or animal stirring, as if the neighborhood were under a spell.

I do want to get back to Houston by Tuesday evening so I don't miss my zumba. Ever in the company of males (husband or my sons) and because I'm highly reflective, I tend to act like a male myself and my strides are like those of a man. In zumba, I learn to move seductively and feel the magic of being woman.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Yadav in Costa Rica (click on picture to enlarge).

I'm in Austin with Murphy. I don't know where my other boy, Yadav, is. The battery to his cell phone is probably dead because I'm unable to reach him. How could you have named him Yadav?, Indians often ask me. It's a low-caste name, some say. I abhor the caste system and I love the name, Yadav, and that's all there is to it.

Usually I drive to Austin under 2 1/2 hours, without stopping midway. I ought to have been a truck driver. I can drive for hours and hours and feel might chirpy. In the rare event I feel tired, I make a high-pitched n-ng sound with my tongue. That's a superbraincharger. I remember the time when Marlene and I were driving back from Austin after a concert by Raviji and Anoushka. It was pouring rain and visibility was near zero. Anu, can you really see?, Marlene would ask me as we drove down the 290. Trust me, Marlene, I have unusual vision. And just in case another driver's storm vision was not as good as mine, we'd both make this high-pitched n-ng sound, as if temple bells were ringing in our mouths, to be extra alert.

With Murphy in the car, I had to make three stops, walk him, water him, and then he'd cozy up and go to sleep. It was a beautiful drive. After a short nap on reaching Austin, Murphy and I went for a walk in the trails and said, hello, to all the dogs and their owners. Later, we went to Petco on Red River. Once again Murphy and I were exchanging smiles and pleasantries with all the other shoppers. Murphy is really helping me coming out of the zombie state I had gone into. Sure, I had the book launch but I had to continually pump myself with Pepsi and Coke and etc to feel good. And over the many months, I was beginning to look puffy.

For dinner, I picked up some carry-out from Aster's -- great Ethiopian food!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Found the Owner -- Yay!!!

This morning, Ayanna and I drove around putting up posters with a description of the lost black Labrador and our phone numbers, on the posts of all the stop signs in our neighborhood. I was the driver and Ayanna was the poster-paster. It was a cold, windy day and we just had to hope that the posters did not get blown off.

Later this evening Ayanna knocked on my door, 'Anu, the owner is coming to get his dog.'

Were we excited!

Some minutes later, a black car pulled into my driveway and out stepped a white-haired man. He hugged the black lab, felt the cricket ball sized lump on the underside. ‘This is our dog, Cash, all right.’ And then his hand reached toward his hip pocket, 'Thank you so much. How much do I owe you?'

'Nothing,' Ayanna and I said. It was reward enough for us to see Cash go to his owner. They live only one street away from ours. He is eleven years old and arthritic and perhaps does not go out so much, because on the second day Cash was with us, my husband and I went to that very street asking if anyone knew him. Drew a blank.

All's back to normal with Murphy as the sole owner of our affections.

Friday, January 23, 2009

In the Best of Health

'How are you?’ I asked her.

‘I’m in the best of health,’ she said. ‘I just have very high blood pressure but I take some pills for that. And I also have high cholesterol, so I’m taking some pills for that as well. Other than that, I am extremely healthy.’

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lakeside Animal Clinic

My neighbor's schnauzer, Missy, had four punctures on her torso when a great dane picked her up and shook her as if Missy were a rat. Roxy, the great dane on our street, is very sweet-natured, so I don't know what set her off. No one expected Missy to survive. But survive, she did, through the exceptional care and treatment she received at Lakeside Animal Clinic.

I knew of this, but I'm ferociously loyal and I was going to take Murphy to Sirocco's vet for his annual check up and teeth cleaning. But when I drove by the vet's place, I was starting to break down again, reminded of my last visit there, of the autopsy on Sirocco. It was time to move on, begin afresh.

In the lobby of Lakeside Animal Clinic, Murphy hoisted himself over the counter and sent a flying kiss to the receptionist. He certainly doesn't have hip dysplasia. 'You got a good one there,' Dr Wiltshire said of Murphy who tested negative for heartworm, tapeworm, etc, but his teeth will have to be cleaned yearly.

This morning I dropped him off around 7 am at Lakeside Animal Clinic and picked him up at 4 pm. Murphy gave me a wet, sweet-smelling breathy kiss.

***We had a microchip put on Murphy.

Lost/Found Black Labrador

A lost black lab stopped by to chat with Murphy but ran off when I tried to grab hold of his collarless neck. My next door neighbor and I enticed him with treats and I finally got him on a leash.

Description of Dog

Small sized male labrador weighing perhaps 70 pounds.

Black with a lot of gray on the face and muzzle and belly. I'm guessing ten or eleven years old.

Extra long nails.

Has a cricket ball sized tumor/fat on his underside.

Is he lost or has he been abandoned?

No microchip on black lab.
I had his nails trimmed at Lakeside Animal Clinic.
Ayanna put up posters of found black lab in Shadowbriar, Ashford Hollow and Ashford Village (I was the driver).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Murphy And Me

Two years after Sirocco died, I still could not open my heart to another dog, even though my husband and my son were ready for one. I would drive to CAP and SPCA but would always come home empty handed. On the morning of January 7 when I went to CAP, I found myself looking into the eyes of a Great Pyrenees mix puppy and feeling the stirrings of love. I was ready to take him home, but a mother and her two teenage kids were also taken in by the pup. Their golden retriever had died of heart failure three weeks before Christmas, the mother said. I stepped back, and let the grieving family adopt the pup.

The same evening, around 4.15 pm, instead of going to the gym, I once again headed for CAP, filled with longing and a feeling of restlessness. Along the way, I saw an extra large chocolate lab romping about in the front yard of a house. He looked so heartwrenchingly like Sirocco. I braked and parked the car in front of the house.

'Oh, could I hug your dog, please?'

'Sure,’ the owner of the dog said, and called out, ‘Murphy!’

Murphy came bounding toward us. I got down on my knees and hugged and hugged him and I began to cry. Two years of grief poured out of me. Between sobs I narrated the story of Sirocco, how he had died, how I had sort of died too, how our house had turned dark as a tomb.

Murphy’s Mama told me about Murphy. He was eight years old and had come to them last year. He was pre-owned. He was a darling boy, great with her two kids but hugely energetic and needed a lot more time than they could give him.

‘Oh, could I have him please?’

MM’s eyes opened wide and she seemed unsure of how to respond to my request.

Before MM could say anything, I spoke quickly. 'We could share him if you like…I am mostly at home…our house is fully fenced…when we bought our house it was with Sirocco in mind, it had to be on a cul-de-sac…all the main rooms had to be downstairs…even the study…your dog will be well looked after, you see…I never got to see Sirocco grow old…oh please?’.

Murphy, sensing that he was the cause of the excitement in my voice, was jumping all over me and licking my face and mounting his great big paws on my shoulders.

‘I'll have to talk this over with my husband,’ MM said.

'You can check me out on my website,' I said, giving her my name and phone number and my website address.

That night, MM called us. ‘Do you still want Murphy?” she asked.

‘Absolutely,” I said.

‘We love Murphy but I saw the joy he brought you and we feel that you'll be able to give him more time than we can. So, in the interests of Murphy…’

Ten minutes later my husband and I were at their house and returned with Murphy.