Rescued Gems

The following is an excerpt from legendary big-game hunter and animal-lover – the two are not necessarily a contradiction in terms – JimCorbette’s “Robin”.

I never saw either of his parents. The Knight of the Broom I purchased him from said he was a spaniel, that his name was Pincha, and that his father was a ‘keen gun dog’. This is all I can tell you about his pedigree.
I did not want a pup, and it was quite by accident that I happened to be with a friend when the litter of seven was decanted from a very filthy basket for her inspection. Pincha was the smallest and the thinnest of the litter, and it was quite evident he had reached the last ditch in his fight for survival. Leaving his little less miserable brothers and sisters, he walked once round me, and then curled himself up between my big feet. When I picked him up and put him inside my coat—it was a bitterly cold morning—he tried to show his gratitude by licking my face, and I tried to show him I was not aware of his appalling stench.

He was rising three months then, and I bought him for fifteen rupees. He is rising thirteen years now, and all the gold in India would not buy him.

Accompanying illustration, Kaju as a baby, new to our home.

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A Photo Essay on Destruction

We had a lovely guest for dinner yesterday. In his honour – and in an effort to keep face-licking off our mehmaan nawazi – we allowed the dogs to romp unsupervised in our bedroom, while we socialised civilly inthedrawing room.Electrified by the sudden free rein in this otherwise-forbidden room, the dogs went absolutely wild. This is the state the bed was in after our guest left.

D1

My partner saw this mess while I was clearing the dishes (we dropped by a few times in between chatting to check on the dogs). To prevent further damage, he put the dogs in the bedroom balcony, where to also hang our laundry to dry.

Once our guest left, we opened the door of the bedroom… and saw the dogs looking damned pleased with themselves.

D2

Of course, Kaju immediately made an effort to get to us, but alas, the window of his jail was too high.
D3

Shorshu, of course, thinks it is déclassé to try and rescue herself. She issued bird-like warbles, indicated she would like to be rescued from her undignified perch, and cuddled for her troubles.

D4

Finally, after I let them both out of the balcony after half an hour’s detention, Shorshu immediately jumped onto the destroyed bed and curled up, like it was her goddamned right.

D6

While Kaju posed cheerfully for the camera, proud of his evening’s efforts.

D5

So much for lessons learnt.

Live-in Ruins Careers

This is one of Markendya Katju’s least popular recent social media commentary. And that’s encouraging, because in India, people are still harassed and assaulted for the ‘indiscretion’ he counsels against here.

Screenshot of former Supreme Court justice Katju's Facebook status.

Screenshot of former Supreme Court justice Katju’s Facebook status.

This is the link to Katju’s status about withholding a deserving name from nominations for judgeship, because the person lived-in with a female lawyer, and socialised ‘openly’ as a couple. His reason? “Indian society is largely still conservative, and largely still does not approve of live in relationship, though it is not illegal.. While lawyers can have live in relationship, it is as yet not ethically permissible to Judges [sic].”

Well, here are responses from some of his followers. They are rather heartening, even if they reflect only the top, tech-savvy fraction of the urban and suburban middle-class. The country is certainly changing, if slowly and in patches.

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Little Red’s New Coat, Road Dahl

I was speaking to my mum on the phone today, when my dad came on the line specifically to tell me that he read my post reproducing James Thurber’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and that he enjoyed it very much. My mother added from the background that it was delightful.

It’s a bit unsettling at first to know one’s parents reads one’s blog, but I’m quite kicked, really, to play parent, and introduce them to new things, the way they introduced them to me once. So here is an excerpt from another re-telling of the Little Red fairytale, this time by Roald Dahl. It’s a favourite of mine, despite raising contemporary concerns of gun-violence, the fur trade, and encouragement of cruelty to animals.

The action below begins after the wolf has eaten Red’s grandmother, and is preparing to eat Red once she arrives.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf
Roald Dahl

Wolfie dressing up in Granny's clothes. Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

Wolfie dressing up in Granny’s clothes. Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
He quickly put on Grandma’s clothes,
(Of course he hadn’t eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma’s chair.

Little Red Riding Hood comes in and stares. Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

Little Red Riding Hood comes in and stares. Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said.
“…But Grandma
what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.”
“That’s wrong!” cried Wolf. “Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I’ve got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I’m going to eat you anyway.”

"Bang bang, she shoots him dead." Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

“Bang bang, she shoots him dead.” Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature’s head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

"My lovely furry wolfskin coat." Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

“My lovely furry wolfskin coat.” Ink and watercolour, Quentin Blake, from Revolting Rhymes, Roadl Dahl.

A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, “Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.”

Little Girl and the Wolf, James Thurber

little-red-with-gun

NOTE: On the one hand, a tale of cynical ‘empowerment’. On the other, a possible advocacy for NSA’s ‘good guys with guns’ fallacy (or in this case, ‘smart kids with guns’ fallacy, recipe for an even greater tragedy). Either way, this is James Thurber’s all-American two-paragraph version of Little Red Riding Hood.

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. “Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?” asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother’s house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(MORAL: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)

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.

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