A dog is NOT a substitute baby!!

Every now and then trend spotting stories like this article appears in American media trying to stir controversy and generate heated comments.

According to this article published last week, more and more young, educated women in New York are choosing dogs over kids.

Aarrrrrgggghhhh. Or rather, BHOOOWWWW WOWWWW…

As a young ( ahem!) couple who chose not to have kids and love our dog to bits, we routinely clarify that our dog is not a replacement for a child.

The article quotes supporting data ( of course!!).

‘Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women, reports the business-news site Quartz. ‘

A comment on the article succinctly sums up our ( and I suspect many others’) sentiments :

“There’s definitely some replacement happening there.” UGH! Replacement? How about DIFFERENT choice. Everything a woman does – run a business, take care of her parents, travel, get a cute pooch, ANYTHING – it is considered replacement. Cuz you know, a woman ONLY wants to have kids so she’ll replace that need/want/yearning/desire/biological pull with something else.”

We have come across, from well meaning to smug to totally clueless comments on how we might ‘think’ that our dog is a replacement for a child, but he is not, and we are deluded and we will realise it when it is too late and what is wrong with people who think a dog can replace a child, blehh blehh blehh..

My polite answer is always as follows.

“It is VERY simple. We love dogs, since we both were kids. We wanted dog forever and got him when we could. We will have more when we move out of the city. Our dream for future features multiple dogs and cats – it is super high priority. We never wanted kids and thus never had one. These two have nothing, repeat, NOTHING to do with each other. We are knowledgeable enough to understand the difference between two totally different species with totally different life-cycles. Sorry to bust your ignorant presumptions.”

I wonder where this logic of ‘replacement’ comes from. After all,people with kids routinely have dogs. My parents had two kids and dozens of cats and couple of dogs since I remember. So did most of our family friends. Majority of pet videos feature kids. And virtually every ad about a canine product features the lush golden retriever playing with a kid as the loving parents look on. What replacement are they looking for? Some hypothetical kid who died in the condom???

I think the confusion comes from what people see- the affection, the attachment, the innocence, the dependence that pets and their humans have for each other. It ‘sounds’ like a baby-parent relationship.

Why don’t we safely assume that adults know the difference between a homo-sepien and a Canis lupus: two totally different species altogether. Hell, that is an easy difference to spot. It is not like toad and frog, who require you to get in-depth of their characteristics to identify them correctly. A dog has a tail, and walks on four legs after all- HUUUUGE difference from a tiny human with two legs and no tail, no??

Just because people are called pet-parents( definitely a better term than owners, but I prefer just ‘ XYZ’s humans’ ) and cuddle with their pets to death, and love to take care of them, and some even go to ridiculous heights of pampering , doesn’t mean that they are some second-rate substitute for a baby one never wanted in the first place!!

We and many others like us- with or without kids, have made and are ready to make adjustments to our lives to accommodate pets because we love these animals and we enjoy spending time with them and feel fulfilment with them.

It is not rocket science to realise that people for thousands of years have loved their pets and vice versa, because, NEWSFLASH- every goddamn thing on this earth is not only about human beings . We are capable of loving non-humans without comparing them to ourselves. It is a beautiful and liberating expereience to love pet animals and care for them like a member of the family and be loved and cared for by them. One doesn’t have to be an animal activist living with Gorillas for a decade or a sobbing non-parent burying her face in the dog’s fur while dreaming about a cute baby to do that!!

Ask my dog who will promptly tell you that he loves his humans NOT as a replacement-canines, but for what we are. It is quite telling that the smug human beings don’t have that clarity and wisdom!!

Another nonsensical lip service a.k.a MOTHERHOOD IS THE TOUGHEST JOB EVER…

Another ‘pat on your back plus hollow lip service‘ message for mothers.

From President Obama to your neighbourhood Facebook banshees, everyone screams hoarse on how motherhood is the world’s toughest job, like EVER EVER EVER…

Yes ladies, bring forth that Gajar Ka Halwa or its modern childcare equivalent, be garlanded for your holy martyrdom and shut-up about your postpartum depression. You might be a commissioner of the police or a prime-minister, it is NOTHING as compared to the celestial and 24 hr. job of being a mamma. Do not dare to ask for privileges, or equality, because hey, we all know it is also THE MOST REWARDING WORK YOU WOULD EVER DO EVER..

Forget the coal miners or women labourers who break their backs doing construction work for 18 hrs. or finance minister working on annual budget of the country or a social worker working tirelessly with child prostitutes… well, you get the drift.

I really wonder if mothers buy this kind of nonsense? Going by media coverage, a significant number of them do. And other mothers, thank god, call out the hypocrisy and the saccharine sweet gender stereotyping such messages re-enforce. This is a sophisticated version of the Nirupa Roy syndrome Mothers. No hunky Vijay is going to save you from baddies or take revenge or raise you from poverty kyunki mere paas maaa hai!!

It is one thing to recognise the tremendously valuable work of child raring that (largely) women do, for no money, meaningless titles of CEO of the HOUSEHOLD notwithstanding. And it is another to give this dumbified messages which would raise the hackles of any self-respecting woman or man, mother/parent or not.

Dog Day Mornings..

I am fast asleep when something bumps on my face. The dog is awake. He leans on me. He puts his entire weight in his spine flung across my shoulders, and tumbles down as he scratches himself with great abandon. I push him but he settles down, half on me and half on my quilt, and continues scratching himself.

It is 5 am and I pull my quilt over my head without opening my eyes. Because if he sees them open, he will paw my face gently to tell me that it is late in the morning and I should wake up. And open the curtains. And let the light in. And go out for walk. For there has been an entire night of smells that he has missed out on.

I fling my arms across the husband to form a barrier of some sort, so that the dog can’t walk into his face to lick it and try to wake him up as well. One person woken up at this ungodly hour is enough. I peer at the dog who is lovingly pawing husband’s quilt and trying to play with it.

He continues scratching himself and turns up on his belly. I know he is playfully cycling in air and slowly turning his paws on me now. I have to be firm if I don’t want a full blast of playtime. I pull him closer, feel his strong little body snuggle next to mine and then I pat and scratch his ears into delirium till he settles down to a forced sleep. He even starts snoring, his rhythm slowly matching that of husband’s more loud snores. Great. Now there is no way I can go to sleep. I squeeze my eyes hard and try to count numbers so that I can snatch at that delicious early morning sleep, a luxury denied to me ever since the dog stepped in.

I doze off for a few minutes and wake up again to bright eastern light streaming in the room. The dog has managed to open the curtains. He does that by walking on the ledge with his forehead meticulously pushing the curtains to the sides. He then jumps up and sits next to my face.

I peer from half-shut lids at his face above mine. His velvety mouth flaps quiver in anticipation and he gently whimpers. He knows from my breathing that I am 100% awake. No point in pretending. It is 6 am.

He unleashes his scratchy tongue and cleans the entirety of my ears in one long strong lick. He nuzzles his silken face in my neck and burrows himself till I am forced to let go of the quilt and any comfortable position. Let us go now, I have waited enough. He says, quite forcefully. I try to pull him in the quilt but he puts all the resistance a 15 kg animal can. He pretty much is sitting on my neck now, his tail thumping loudly on the bed.

My eyes feel like lead. The dog has no empathy. He continues to lick and paw and snuggle till my eyes open fully. It is as if they have made a huge noise while opening. Because the dog has now jumped on my face and is now wagging his tail till the entire bed shakes and licking my neck and performing a complex dance move of throwing his entire body in every available space.

I sit up. He climbs in my lap and turns up on his belly and paws my arms and bumps his rather large bony skull on my chin as he slurps at my face all at the same time.

I stumble out of the bed, trying to ignore the dog next to the pot as I pee. The tail has increased its wagging to impossible speed. His eyes are glittering like large black stones. The entire body is shaking in anticipation as if he is going to Mount Everest.

Simple acts like pulling up pants (as he tugs on their legs playfully), putting on a bra, picking up the keys and the poop bag, putting them in pockets elicit profound responses till it is one big whirl of brown hair, long ears, swish of tail and something that looks like legs.

Putting on leash unleashes happy growls and attempts to catch hold of it and jumping and going round the circles at the same time. It is the first walk of his six daily walks, but it feels like the dog hasn’t been let out for over a year going by the exuberance.

Opening the door, walking up to the lift and finally getting out of the building is no effort, being dragged by one enthusiastic morning dog. My eyes have opened by now and I am slowly waking up. The dog is crawling below the cars and walking at the same time, lest any smell escapes him. His long ears sweep the floor and his leg rises again and again as he pees two drops each on every car tyre and lamppost and tree and sidewalk corner. He walks with his nose on the ground and ass high in the air, tail wagging at the delicious smells. He sometimes bumps his head on the car because his eyes are constantly on the ground or looking for his friends. He spots one after another, they greet him and there is the good morning ritual of sniffing each others crotch and asshole with elaborate mannerisms. An occasional threatening bark is uttered if he spots outsider dogs who carefully show their subservience to this obvious galli ka kutta bhi sher.

Potty done, picked up and deposited in the bin. The dog kicks up a storm of dust and debris on the poop-spot with his hind legs. This is definitely a very macho thing to do, going by the expression on his face. The walk back now is revisiting the fragrances, more patiently this time. He takes his time separating several subtle tones in the bouquet of streaks of canine urine. When he licks it, I try not to think of him licking my face just a few minutes ago. He struts on the roads with confidence of a Great Dane. He refuses to believe that he is an English Cocker Spaniel, he will settle for nothing but at least a St. Bernard. School kids walking to their torture pet him, which he tolerates patiently. He greets some of his acquaintances with profuse jumping and licking. When they praise him, he looks extremely modest and sits like an ideal dog who wouldn’t dream of barking at large dogs and licking sidewalks.

The long walk completed, he now wants to go back in RIGHT NOW. He is impatient in the lift and rushes inside the flat and as soon as the leash is removed, he drinks enough water to give the famished kidneys some sustenance. He greets husband by profuse licking and belly turning and furious scratching. In five minutes, he crawls below the diwan and is fast asleep.

Death Penalty for the 3 guilty Shakti Mills rape perpetrators

The three perpetrators found guilty in Shakti Mills Rape case were sentenced to death yesterday, April 4th 2014.

Opinions are divided on the verdict, the Facebook pundits growling in joy while most of the feminist organisations are opposing the death penalty.

Flavia Agnes’s excellent article on the regressiveness of the penalty here.

We had this discussion last April in context of Nirbhaya rape and murder case. Even if you don’t read the post do read Kavita Krishnan’s comments. They succinctly summarise why death penalty doesn’t achieve any concrete results in reducing sexual crimes.

And here on the Nirbhaya case verdict which also sentenced perpetrators to death.

Sequels, Season 2s, Marathons

Christopher Nolan has surely been a trendsetter for long faces spouting deeeeeep dialogues uttered by self-important characters looking away from camera, all the while hiding the terribly silly shallowness of the entire premise of the story. I propose Nolan ‘reinterprets’ Tom and Jerry. Make Tom repent his horrible bullying ways, which turns him into vegetarian, and gives his clinical depression. The question Nolan/ this movie asks is, what is Jerry running from? Which internal conflict makes his steal the cheese and does he suffer any pangs of conscience? Is Jerry existential confused? The 220 minute movie spends a large amount of time in Lhasa where both Tom and Jerry battle the issues of mortality, violence and essential nature of cat-rat conflict in modern society.

Yes, I am so so over the overratedness of overrated thingies..

I was reminded of long-face-aesthetic when I finally saw Death Comes to Pemberley, which is sort of reimagined sequel to Pride and Prejudice, penned by P.D.James. And now made into a mini-series.

Dull as Mr. Collins’ sermons. Dull. Dull. Dull.

pemb

I know there were extremely large shoes to fill here, but Darcy and Elizabeth couldn’t have been more boring and lacklustre.

None of the vitality, the simmering sensuality, the wit, the biting critique of social manners that we love P & P for.

Instead we have faux-serious long faces whispering inspirational tidbits to each other set on boring violin score and a good bit of post modern marriage counselling thrown in.

The mystery is laughably silly. Direction is weak. Editing loose to say the least. Cinematography is the only saving grace.

I am seeing this faux-americanized-gravity in the guise of ‘reinterpretation’ becoming a mainstream trend now. There are two reasons for this and the similar malaise.

1. Christopher Nolan with his overrated, laughably serious and trying-too-hard-to-find-meaning-of-life-while dressed-in-a-bat cape style of cinema. Seriously, he is going to overtake Tarantino very soon for ‘the most overrated by wannabe film buffs’ status.
2. Scandinavians with their naturally morose and gritty style. Maybe it is all that snow and bad food, but nordics sure have a monopoly over long faces. And they do it with aplomb, unlike their pale imitations in the Anglo world.

There. I wish the English leave the style slick productions with shallow gravitas to Nolan and company, and get back to telling good stories with great acting, fantastic scripts and genuine honesty.

And talking of Scandinavians, I finally saw Borgen Season 2.
borgen
It is better than season 1. Really, what is it about Scandies? They seem to mix naive formula, morality and depth in such a delicious treat.

A political saga with Denmark’s first female prime minister as the protagonist is about ethical conflicts and moral choices one makes.

The only peeve I had was that as usual, when there is a powerful female character in power, the makers have to drag the precious ‘work-family’ balance in. What is the prime-minister’s husband doing when the daughter gets ill? There was a suggestion that only mother can help the ailing child, even if it means risk of political suicide, which I found ridiculous for such a progressive show and such a dynamic character.

And I tried watching Girls season 2, hoping I might have not liked Season 1 for some vague reason like common cold or inertia or something. But honestly, this show has not struck a single cord with me. Not one. Nada. So I am not going to try any more.

girls

My latest crush BTW is on Matthew Goode – the only saving grace in his rather small role in Death Comes to Pemberly. The delicious, slurpicious Matthew Goode, who now monopolises the ‘not blinking his beautiful and rather large green eyes EVER’ to a rather sexy effect. I suspect he hides his mediocrity behind the stock ‘look at my hauntingly stunning face that is hiding something’ expression. But it worked for me in Stoker and it works here. There are not enough beautiful men with large green eyes around and I am going to nurse a serious crush on this piece of Goode. Horrible pun, I know!

And since no post featuring P & P can be complete without the scintillating Colin Firth, here is him being smooched by Matthew Goode. Twooo much….

kiss

Why I am voting for AAP

First and foremost, Medha Patkar who is the candidate from my constituency.

All my life, I have believed that personal is political and vice versa. And my personal beliefs echo with Medha Patkar ( because the local candidate is as important as the party she represents) and her party.

And let us say, for the sake of argument, that had my personal beliefs not echoed with her, even then, isn’t it a democratic citizen’s dream come true that a woman who has sacrificed her entire life for a cause of the downtrodden, would be your candidate and you can contribute to put her in mainstream power?

I am thankful for this opportunity. All my life I have cribbed about and waxed cynical on how I don’t really see any valid difference between several candidates and party politics. How morality and democratic values have flown out of window. How politics has been divorced from any ideology. How educated and professionally accomplished Indians are missing from mainstream politics.

Haven’t we all been saying this, shaking our heads in disgust and putting impassioned FB posts?

Now I see a party who is gutsy enough to put moral beliefs in front of political compromise. Who is anarchist enough to shake up the system. Who fields CEOs of banks and RTI activists and social change-makers as candidates. Who is ready to appear foolish rather than strike suave deals.

Most important- people will make mistakes. Because hey, unless you make mistakes you can not bring forth any valid change whatsoever.

Yes, what we require is a bunch of ‘yeda’ log. Foolish, eccentric, headstrong people who are not afraid to screw up. Who will shake up the complacency. Who will challenge the status quo. Who will bring in professional experts to fix basic fundamentals of economy. Whose beliefs do not alienate any community. Who do not work for a bunch of wealthy businessmen. Who do not beat their 56 inch chests in macho aggression as they make ridiculous claims of growth and take hyped credit for development, meanwhile killing a few thousand minority citizens for recreation.

This is not a rant against the exasperating tendency of people to be uninformed, cynical, insensitive and to get swayed by hype of highly questionable media sources.

What I want to say here is that we have a positive opportunity. No incumbency, no personality cult, no business-as-usual. But to vote for candidates we all have been wishing for. Clean, professional, committed.

It is not that I am voting for them because everyone else is corrupt/ criminal/ crony of businessmen/ mass murderer/no-performer. But I am voting for them because for I am putting my trust in people who have the credentials and moral strength to lead me.

I am willing to accept that they are not perfect. That they might disappoint me. I know that healthy democracy and dynamic economy involves all this and lot more.

After spending my entire voting life looking for such people, I feel exhilarated to be able to finally vote for someone I admire, love and respect.

Wow, and I never thought I would say this with so much of heart!