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.