Meeting Newton

Newton, the Physics department cat, wanders fealessly into faculty offices, chooses a lap, and parks himself there for as long as he likes, scratching the attached human lightly if cuddles are not forthcoming. He’s going to grow up to be a tiger some day.

Newton

“Living Fossil” Frilled Sharks

The deep sea is terrifying and fascinating. Mostly because, I think, the environment is so completely different from ones familiar to us that creatures evolved for it would seem terrifying, monstrously fascinating for us. Not too different from the mentality that spurred European colonial endeavours globally – and the extermination of many of them, I might mention, in the context of marine preservation – before contemporary cultural modernity struck and we embraced ‘diversity’ warmly (at least in theory).

This creature, called a frilled shark because of the six slits for gills on either side of its face, boasts three hundreed needle-sharp teeth, arranged in 25 rows. Apparently, it can slither and lunge like eels, and because of its snakelike-flexible jaws, swallow its prey whole.

Coutesy: Intact Nature

Coutesy: Intact Nature

Imagine now, with the arctic melts, the seas flooding inhabited lands, and bringing deep-sea hunters closer to our current homes. Shudder shudder. [I enjoy imagining sci-fi dystopias, yes.]

The one that was caught off Australia. Courtesy: News Station 3AW.

Courtesy: News Station 3AW.

Twitter

…is a rum thing.

It bores me, because brevity is not one of my virtues, and glibness not my chief vice.

And yet sometimes I think it rather fun, a spectacle for those with the patience to sift through barrages of superfluity to unearth a little grain of genuine wit, or a shard of devastating news.

Overall, I think I’ll stick to Facebook, but I might post book-quotes on Twitter. I forget them if I don’t have them written down, and let’s face it, that stuff has to go somewhere.

The God-dog to My Puppies

This is the epitome of an angelic dog. Her name is Bahadur. She’s our local canine resident, very affectionate towards friendly humans and perfectly civil to those afraid of or indifferent to dogs.

Day before, when my fingers turned black after a gentle head-rubbing, I decided she needed a bath. I picked her up and carried her into our flat – to much clamour from Kaju-Shorshu – wet her fur, took off about 20 ticks, shampooed her, and dried her thoroughly. All throughout, she kept nudging the door in an attempt to get out, but didn’t show even the tiniest hint of aggression.

Now she has soft, clean fur, and still runs up to me, wagging her tail… so clearly I haven’t traumatised her for life.

Bahadur, the morning after she was bathed.

Bahadur, the morning after she was bathed.

Snapshots of a Small Revolution, 1

The #hokkolorob (‘Let there be clamour’, ‘let there be a confluence of voices’) movement based in Jadavpur University saw a great deal of support from the public, and some opposition from the state and the authoritarian Hindu Nationalist party BJP. Nonetheless, after a four-month struggle, the vice-chancellor of the university was finally forced to vacate his chair.

Many people – students, alumni, observers, dissenters – have recorded the movement on social media, particularly on Facebook. Here are a few snapshots of those narratives, joined or fractured by ideologies as they might have been.

From Mahadyuti Adhikary, Facebook, 12 January at 13.44:
As I was entering JU through Gate 4, an elderly woman asked me the way to Gate 2, where the parents of the hunger strikers were sitting on a 12-hour symbolic hunger strike themselves. Upon inquiring, she said that she’s neither an alumnus, nor any way related to the hunger strikers. Even at the age of 78, she had come down all the way from Howrah just to express her solidarity. Nilanjana di (Deb, English Dept.) was kind enough to give her a lift. An hour later, when I met her at Gate 2, a couple of video journalists were trying to capture her on camera, to which she calmly replied – “Dekho baba, amar chhobi tule ki hobe? Andolon ta toh chhatro-chhatri der. Ami ekhane chhobi tultey ashini. Oder pashe darate eschi (What good will my picture serve, my boy? This is a student-led movement. I didn’t come here to be photographed, I came here to support them).” [Link to original]

Pix: Powai Dog Carnival

We’re not the most outgoing of people. We did hear about the Powai Dog Carnival on social media, but really, we had no intention of going. But then my partner called fellow-doggie parents R&M, and before I knew what was what, he’d promised R that we would be accompanying the two of them – and their adorable Labradors Pluto and Silk – to the carnival. Thank goodness for extroverts.

At first, we left Kaju and Shorshe at home. Kaju is very excitable, and Shorshu is terrified of new people and crowds. The Carnival was so much fun, though, that we changed our minds (with Aditi Nair of PAL helping us along), and hopped back home to fetch our babies. The auto-driver who ferried us was rather apprehensive about having two dogs on board, I think, but bravely forwent comment.

Shorshu created a bit of stir at the carnival by escaping from her leash. We prefer a slightly looser leash than most, and Shorshu has learnt to work her way out of it when she likes, the clever little trouble-maker. However, she’s not the bravest soul, and when a huge Alsatian veered into her path, she ran straight back into my arms. Thereafter, she spent her entire time at the carnival in the lap of her new human best friend Ameet, growling threateningly at any canine who came within three feet of the poor man.

Kaju, meanwhile, pranced about the entire fairground, chummying up to Great Danes and turning his nose up at fluffed-up poodles (the boy has good taste). It was hard to take pictures while also holding onto a very excited (and strong) nine-month puppy, but here are the ones I did manage to salvage from the often-blurry gallery on my phone.

Victory, She Announced

Sourced from social media, for in many ways, this movement has been defined by its presence on social media. For that, as my friend Parichay pointed out, #hokkolorob probably owes a debt to journalist and veteran of the Shahbag Andolon Arif Jabtik, who advised protesting students not to depend on media houses for unbiased reportage.

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