Saturday, March 22, 2008


Though my exam is less than a couple of months away, I'm shamelessly seeped in the wonderful world of James Herriot. Pen name for Alfred Wight, this veterinarian doctor has an exquisite hand, whether it comes to treating his patients or simply writing 'bout them.

And this had to happen to me. I was at chapter 41 of Dog Stories (a heart-warming book truly) when at around 5ish in the evening I became conscious of this tiny mewing going on and on. Now, it had rained, nay, poured in the afternoon, and obviously this tiny little kitten was alone and crying, lolling in the mud, waiting for its mother to come and pick it up. And the mother (it grew up in and around my house) was there sitting on the parapet wall, mewing in its own tenor. It lazily ambled along and meanwhile I (quite foolishly) went and picked up the little feller, brushed a red ant off it and set about rubbing it dry.

Her majesty strolled in a few minutes later and when I placed the apple of her eye in front of her, what do you know! One sniff and about-turn. Yikes man! What could I do??? Most unfortunately I was still in Herriot's-ville with the Yorkshire Dales' ethereal earthiness and lush greenery embossed in the mind. Did I mention that it had rained? Yes? Good. The sky looked laundered and the earth moist and green. It could've been Yorkshire itself for Rama's sake. As such, with each passing chapter of Herriot's, my desire for a pet was increasing by leaps and bounds. And lo behold! Here was a helpless kitten, evidently causing no flutter of motherhood in its mom. It was like Nature had smiled and said "You asked for it!" And I had revelled in the fact.

The internet came to my rescue and I figured out what I had to feed the little one. Went out, got a teeny milk bottle and multi-vitamin syrup and eggs and stuff. I was heady with this surrogate-mom feeling. This was going to be my baby. :) But it was not to be that way I guess. Feeding a little one is WAY tougher than it looks man! I've often wondered why is it that people get annoyed when their child doesn't drink milk, or eat whatever it is that they wanted it to eat. They just had to handle it with patience I felt. But now I knew. My furry little buddy refused to get anywhere near that bottle. How I managed to coax and cajole and feed it, only I know.

By the end of the whole thing, I was heartily sick. I prayed for the mother to come back and take it under its wing paw. Took a nice little chappal box, line it with a whole edition of New Indian Express, put my new best friend in it, and placed it outside. At around 9.45 PM, I heard teeny mews again. Stepped out with the intention of checking on it. Surprise! It was sound asleep. Mew! Mew! The noise cut the surrounding silence again. And to top it, it had that oh-so-vulnerable tenor attached to it. Enough to melt the hardest hearts. And mine, as everyone knows does not fall into that category anyway, which means, the problem of not melting never arises.

Stealthily climbing over the neighbour's parapet wall, I landed on the other side of the wall, and gulp ... of the law. Silence again. I couldn't go so far as the windows in case someone saw me. I was too young to go to prison anyway. So I turned back. And there it was again. Mew-Mewwwwwwww ... take-me-hooooooooome, I'm-coooold-and-hungryyyyyyy, I-want-my-mommmmyyyyyyy, the cries said. Again the expedition began. And not a fruitless one, this one. I found the tiny one (this was even smaller than its sibling) wet, hungry and crying. Oh god. Not again! It doesn't take a mastermind to guess that I took this one home too.

My first thought was to feed this chap but I read (obv, on the net) that feeding a cold kitten recks its digestion. So I set 'bout making the fellow warm. Unlike in the previous case, I had no advantage of time over this one. It had already had its share of cold, and sleep. And now it only had hunger. And to prove a point, it started yelling loudly, MEW MEW MEW all over the place. And boy, for a tiny body the size of my palm, it could bring the house down with those perpetual cries for food.

I ushered in my trusty vapourizer and let that comfortable steam steal over the kitten's body. After which I set 'bout feeding it. This fellow, unlike its predecessor, went for the bottle with gusto (relatively speaking) and I understood why motherhood was considered so important and fulfilling. The joy of feeding someone far more vulnerable, the responsibility of taking care of someone dependant on you ... its an exalted feeling. But enough of senti ... the newest member of the gang was placed along with its sibling in their makeshift home of cardboard and paper.

Apparently new born kittens must be fed every 1.5-2 hours. And I don't think they like the concoction I so lovingly, brewed for them. They must think that I'm being a nuisance waking them up and pouring that wierd mixture down their throat. But I've got to do it.

I love cats you know. If I ever have a pet, it'd be a cat. But I'm praying here that the mother cat would come and take these two guys back into its fold. Its too big a responsibility for me ... those little fellers need the warmth of their mom, not some dumb bottle with lactose shoved down their throat. Please Lord Rama, let the mother come and take 'em both back! Pleaaaaaaaaaase!!!

PS : I'd have pasted a couple of snaps here, but those guys are too young, way way way too young to have someone photograph them even! Bhagavan ... if they live, I'll come and break a couple of coconuts for you!

PSS : Feeding time ... gotta go!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I'll let the pictures speak for themselves!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Srividya Angara and the Adventure of the Railway Concessions

Note : Please refer to glossary at the end of post, in case of UAs. Heck! Just refer to it!

Railway concessions. Artists. The two entities it seems are linked by that inexplicable bond of karma that we are so fond of quoting. Ok, the inexplicable bond of karma that I am so fond of quoting.

A week ago, I went through the entire ordeal of getting my concessions approved and tickets booked for my impending trip to Kumbhakonam and Thanjavur (to perform at the Natyanjali dance festival, in case you aren't up to date with my posts :D). I thought I should document the episode so it might guide, akin to a beacon guiding a stricken sailor, some hapless artist who has a fairly vague manner of approach towards the formidable task that lies ahead. Oh alright, I just like to get a little prosaic sometimes. But you get the idea I guess. So here goes.

Scene1 - The curtain raising act
  • Where are you starting from? Where are you going? For the sake of convenience, consider these as points A and B respectively.
  • Do your homework on the Indian Railway train timings, fares, availability etc. A most helpful site is
  • If you're in Hyderabad, you need to go to Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University at Nampally and get a concession form written out. Easier said than done? Not quite. Read on.
  • If you aren't in Hyd, well ... you got me there. But the rest of procedure is probably the same, so you could still hold on to this post.
  • Before stepping in the environs of the Univ, prepare a letter addressing PRO, Potti Sreeramulu Telugu University. Cut the corporate lingo here and clutch at the "Respected sir/madam" straw. It'll help.
  • Have at least 15 copies of the list of people coming along with you. (I took four but ended up submitting around 12 more copies. Thank god for the Carbon papers.)
  • This done, the concession form when written, should specify the points A and B in the OCF. As in, travelling from A to B kinds. And more importantly, the RCF MUST state B to A. You cannot have a point X merrily stroll in, in between. And if you've to change trains, then do mention, via say C. In my case, I had to go to Thanjavur via Chennai, so it was Sec'bad to Thanjavur via Chennai. You cannot have a A-->C while going and B-->A while coming back. Has got to be A->B and B->A. So far so good? Still with me? Read on then.
  • Make sure that if the group is splitting during the onward or return journey, you've have as many concession forms from the Univ, as there are groups. To elaborate, if the group X is splitting, into X1 and X2 in the RJ, then you must take two concession forms, stamped and ratified from the Univ. One form will go to X1 and other to X2.

Scene 2 - The hair raising act

  • Now that the Univ part is over, you move on to the next chapter, the seemingly impenetrable fortress of Sanchalan Bhavan. And if anyone tells you otherwise, don't believe them.
  • By that I meant, if anyone guides you to Rail Nilayam, that's the not the place you want to be in for concessions. All roads lead to Rome and all concessions to be approved take place in Sanchalan Bhavan.
  • So grab you forms and pens and pads and march in.
  • Go to the 2nd floor, Commercial Division and if I'm not wrong, its the 2nd or 3rd door on the right that takes you to nearer to your goal.
  • If you've arrived at lunch time (which I advise you not to), wait. Once that's done, wait for some more time.
  • They will give you some pink and yellow forms on which they'd write the details of the group and the kind, the points A and B. Make sure you check all these before you place a weary foot out of the Bhavan. Also, there's a date funda there, which I'm not too sure how to put into words. It is the date on or before which these concessions are valid and acceptable to the Railway authorities. So make sure that date pretty much covers your entire trip. Or you'd have emerged as the last word on railway artist concession for the day, with no access to that much coveted 75% concessioned ticket.

Scene 3 - The final act

  • You've your forms all signed? Dates, names, destinations all in place? Good.
  • Walk into the Sec'bad Railway Reservation Complex (applicable to the twin city residents only of course), which is a generally pleasant place.
  • Go to Counter number 30. Group tickets counter. If there're people in front of you, brace yourself for some wait-time. (There were two men in front of me, with 30 and 40 tickets done respectively. Never had I missed a good book so much!)
  • Make sure all your forms, train names, numbers, names of the artists are all filled out duly. Keep your cash ready. When your turn comes, handle the scene with patience (believe you me, you need it) and panache and presto! 11 hours into the task and its is done. Not bad eh? :D
  • Oh and the most important thing ... have fun!

Coming up on this post : The magnificent temples of Kumbhakonam.

Glossary (:D)

  • UA - Unidentified Abbrevations :D
  • RJ - Return Journey
  • OCF - Onward Concession Form
  • RCF - Return Concession Form (Duh!)
  • Univ - University
  • Hyd - Hyderabad