Life updates

1. We let Boo go on the 27th of June. He went as he lived — fussed over by his family, chewing greens, oblivious to needles.

2. I went to Singapore for work and trespassed for leisure.

3. I won the highest praise at work. It’s the first time I have won anything. When I was 14 and weighed 43 kilos at 5 feet 6 inches, I was pulled on stage during the Christmas ball for a competition on the narrowest waist. I didn’t even win that. So I want ‘Displays Excellence’ inscribed on a watch, but a typo so I stay humble.

4. For the first time in 19 years, I am devoid of animal companionship. It feels like living without electricity.

5. My hair is getting curlier.

I wish a Boo on all of you

Once in few weeks, when Boo’s health takes a turn for the worse, I find myself distancing from him. It’s an inbuilt reaction to shelter myself from the inevitable pain. It’s easily justifiable — I have no household help for the summer, I work 12 hours six days a week, I go to work earlier than before. It’s much more efficient to tackle the laundry while TB takes him for a walk. Besides all the medical help we provide, what can make this better for Boo? Just three things:

1. Walks (or car rides). Long walks. Allow him to lead. Let him smell everything. Let’s sit on the grass and watch.

2. Cuddles (or just an elbow nook, a paunch, a thigh to nuzzle into. With half a face gone, he’s very vary of strangers and doesn’t allow anybody to pet him. But he still drills into my stomach, allows us to apply hot and cold compresses and pick his nose. Dogs maim you with trust)

3. Watermelons (or any crunchy fruit and peel)

Just three simple things. It’s not so hard.

FAQ: How is Boo?

Physically, Boo is going through a gamut of treatments. We are doing what any self-respecting double-income-no-children household should do — throw money at cancer. He has been through three rounds of radiation (13 sessions) and the tumour has eaten through the right side of his face. You can see the floor through his upper lip. In fear of secondary infection, we dust turmeric at it all the time. Sometimes, his lymph nodes swell and retain fluid. His gums bleed. His weight is a precarious 26 kilo. When I pet him, I am eerily aware of the shape of his skull. Because of radiation, his mucous and saliva glands are over active. He drools to the floor and needs nose drops to breathe effortlessly. I pick his nose regularly.

Chemo may not be an option because of his kidneys. Leech therapy is scheduled on Saturday to reduce swelling. He is undergoing re-connective therapy and Reiki. The Sai Charitra has been read, Mary of the Mount beseeched, Zorastrian jashn conducted and benign Tibetan monks won over. A small network of believers prays, chants, sends him positive energy consistently.

Essentially, my boy remains bouncy. He loves his diet of mashed rice with liver/mutton soup, spinach/beetroot puree with sticky black tar-like iron syrup and powdered medicines. He attacks his food with gusto many times a day. He’ll lick powdered tablets mixed with honey. He loves his trip to vet/hospital/holistic healer, all of whom are conveniently located in the wondrous DOWNSTAIRS. He hops into the boot of the car, greets the doctors and naps while waiting. His needs are simple — long walks, hugs, banana peel/watermelon chunks and a soft stomach to drill into. He still makes us laugh. His world is still interesting, friendly and filled with never-ending banana peels.

Like his healer says, “Boo is having a ‘the body is suffering, not me’ experience.”

Heart, arrow

Our boy has been diagnosed with an aggressive tumour in an inoperable area. We’ll be doing rounds of chemo and radiation soon and my only worry is that I hope this doesn’t give Boo super powers. I could do without a 32 kg dog climbing walls. Which brings us to the T-shirt he should have:
I’d fight crime, but my mummy won’t let me.



This is his pose at the end of the day. I think being home without pack-leaders is hard on his nerves. “OMG. I MIGHT HAVE TO GUARD! THERE MAY BE STRANGERS! WHAT IF THEY NEVER COME BACK?” *wringing of paws*
He looks up to a noise and nuzzles back in.

You say, use my body for your bed

Home can be quite a relative term. When on the road, it’s the dorm bed you spend two consecutive nights in. Across cities, the bus station you started from is as welcome a sight as any land. On a sabbatical, it’s the room you’ve spent a month in. New married, it’s your parents’ home. Over years, it’s where you spent your childhood.
Eventually, we’re going to have to put down our roots and buy a home. Apart from unrealistic expectations (colonial architecture, leafy lanes, carpet area that runs into thousands of square feet), what we want is a home where our friends are.
The town I live in now comes closest to the ideal. I know most of it by foot, can drive up to my friends’ place in the morning and drag them to breakfast. We are the first ones to line up at the new supermarket when the give away free cheese samples. There are barbecues on Jaison’s terrace to look forward to, even if I have to pass my school to get there. Every time I’m out, I bump into teachers, school friends or their parents.
When I was younger, I tried to convince the boys that we should buy a big house in Goa and live together. Forever and ever. That course of action was aborted when the boys shared a flat in Dubai and reported each other’s daily routine. Me and merlin would have been the only ones cleaning and Andre would have to be tied outside.
On a normal day, no two persons are more glad to see each other at the end of the day than me and Boo. He waits till I take off my shoes and crash on the bed before nuzzling into my stomach, weary after a day of worrying. Will they come home? Will bananas be forthcoming? Do I have to do something about the doorbell? Then with a deep sigh, digs in deep and falls asleep until it’s time for dinner.
On my part, I’m happy to have something to abuse physically. I knead his back, thumb his haunches and rub his ears together. Home, as it turns out, is just another word for Boo.


Did I miss the bus?

I read this on Broom’s blog and thought it was a great way to measure how far I’ve come. So…

2000: I was in the final year of college. There were six students of English Literature in the final year and were a close-knit bunch. We brought in the year at Romel’s new home and I was terrified that I didn’t know what to do with my life. Everyone else had their careers marked and if I wanted to study further, I’d have to finance it myself. I needed to start earning soon and I had a portfolio clicked. I did one assignment for Frazer and Haws, made twice the money I invested in the portfolio and never tried it again. I was in a long-distance, long-term relationship with a boy. I was content but unstimulated. We broke up by the end of the year because his parents refused to pay his med college fees if he continued to date a non-Sindhi. I started freelancing for a local newspaper by the middle of the year and by November got a job as a copy-editor with a computer gaming magazine. I also got my first column, met a bunch of geeks who opened my mind with a crowbar; and worked in what seemed then like a concentration camp, but in hindsight, was the best journalism school I could go to. I learned to use computers and the boys are among my favourite people today.

2001: I turned 21 at my first job and have celebrated every birthday at work since. Met merlin. Blown away by his talent. Magazine discontinued in August. Devastated. Fell irreversibly and irreparably in love with a drunk and drugged poet. Broke my heart in eight months. Hear of new snooty boy at work whose MSN nick is Scrotum. Start working at architectural magazine. Travel from Panvel to Bandra every day and cry at night for the poet.

2002: Decide to get a Masters. Move out of home with college-mate into our own row-house. Series of rebound mistakes follow. Roomie pines for Malabar Hill artist, I for poet. Ally McBeal soundtrack tape is worn down. Get a job with technology magazine in old office. Brother moves to America, I move back home. Almost marry Wrong Guy because I’m lonely and heartbroken. Seek counselling.
Learn Scrotum’s name. Offers money to see me in a skirt. Insult him at office Diwali party. Briefly date Married Man with Child while simultaneously dating Scrotum. Leave when I see turds in toilet bowl. He isn’t particular about flushing because he lives alone.

2003: Feel strangely young and mostly happy. Start blogging. Dissatisfied at work. Pine for poet. Go to Sikkim with best-friend from college.

2004: Scrotum asks me to marry him. Say no. Say yes. Say no. Say okay. Go back to poet. Come back to Scrotum. Get engaged. Quit tech magazine. Join Animal Rights organization. So happy about what I do, even if it means travelling from Panvel to Juhu every day. Go to Pondicherry with two girlfriends.

2005: Become Mrs Scrotum. Boo comes home. Get fired from Animal Rights Organization by insecure boss AFTER she calls my husband for tech advice. Spend three months at home, swimming free-style in anger.

2006: Join newspaper. Resentful. Directionless. Worked to the bone. Start three blogs to kill time. Start investing in tools of trade. Buy Macbook, nice camera and tripod.

2007: Swasta Ani Masta becomes a newspaper column. Consider switching to writing from editing. News to features. Join dance classes.

2008: Apply to volunteer on a kibbutz. Put Cassie to down. Lose grandmother. Start writing more, editing less. Put Boo in car and go around Kokan.

2009: Lose Cookie, Rusty and Dumpy. Tushar taken to ICU. Loses gall stone two weeks later. Tushar’s grandmother hospitalized for one-and-a-half months. Comes home, leaves earthly abode two weeks later. Spend first NYE in seven years away from Tushar.

ps: I didn’t know the Married Man was married. Neither did anyone else. His family was in his hometown and he’d been pretending to be a bachelor in Mumbai for 6-7 years.

Day Three: But the good part is

1. This is not an unhappy place. Busy, but not sad.
2. I’m really excited about the hospital stay. TB has promised me a nice room and I look forward to reading by French windows that open to the sea while he fights off people with needles.
3. People will be obligated to visit us, so I get to meet friends without getting out.
4. Someone is bound to bring us chocolate or a Zoë.
5. There’s great shopping and eating in the area. I’m sure my husband doesn’t expect me to be by his side ALL the time. May be the anaesthetist could put him out for longer.
6. We have jobs and medical insurance. This would have been a dismal scenario without either. So thank you Prudence.
7. I’m distracted from the unbearable impatience I feel about KK’s visit.
8. I get to drive a friend’s cute car without fighting TB for it. SUCK IT!
9. I got new tops and a cute doctor to wear them around. What? He’s practically family!
10. I has Boo.


Observations from a recent holiday


1. Shifty touts come up to us and offer “couples private rooms”. Man, I’m in a car with a drooling dog. Do I look like I’m here for a weekend of rampant sex?
Romantically inclined couples do not look us. Let’s spot the signs, shall we?
New couple: Usually, the girl is dressed in a co-ordinated holiday outfit. Matching tracks and hoodie, etc. The man gets out of the car and approaches the tout with authority. The girl sits in the car and pretends not to know what’s going on. In her head, she’s repeating her defensive quotes or picking a fake name to sign under. The man strikes a deal, gets into the car and drives to the place. He may stop for birth control apparatus.
Long term couple: Woman gets out of the car while man mutters about impossible parking; he hollers after her to hurry back. He hopes she takes long enough for a smoke.
She’s things she hopes to throw into the hotel’s bin. The hair is windblown, but not artistically so. Both of them look exasperated and want to get through the vacation with minimal screaming. The only time they’ll jump at the chance of “private, couples room” is so that no one sees them burying the body at night.
They decide no price is big enough for warm water and the company of middle-aged and retired people


2. In Mahabaleshwar, I change into shorts and tee to go to the market. We’d planned a beach holiday and had packed accordingly. We find ourselves ill-equipped for the hills.
People wonder if I’m cold. Dude, I live in Bombay. Freezing to death would be a pleasure. Every other similarly dressed person passes with a slight nod: How hard-core are we!


3. The people in the monkey cap, wearing every item of winter clothing they own, have to be from my city. The ones wearing cowboy hats and multi-pocketed canvas jackets, from Pune. Milind Gunaji is very popular there.

It's good to be a dog

4. I could walk naked through a market if I had my dog with me. The fucker is quite intimidating. Not when he makes that face, of course.


5. The food at Mahabaleshwar caters to the Jain-Gujju crowd. Even the non-veg. TB spent an excruciating three meals without meat before we charged into a Mughlai joint and then ran back out.
On our way back to the hotel, we chanced into a Parsi joint that sold all things essential for the Zarthoshti life:
Meat and potatoes
Foreign foods
Dog food
I fear they have your nose revoked if you don’t subscribe to any of the above.