Letter to Ane Baapu

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Disclaimer- This letter is a work of fiction. It’s been written for comic purposes only.

Dear Shyamlo,                                                        .           02nd Jan, 1948

Anae Baapu Happie New Year 1948 hau.

Not so happy new year for me.

I’m burning up. Mane aag laawi gayi. I was with you when you lost your wife 4 years ago, when the Britishers arrested you. I’ve washed and worshipped you. I’ve cleaned your streaked langot – only to be dismantled by this sukki bombil, Abhaben?

What does he have that I don’t. She’s taller but I’m so much prettier and some would even say Hote- like Betti Paige. Ane bapu, not beti like maa-beti; Beti like Beti Boop. So hot she is with her red polka dot underwear.

I’m so much better than Abhaben. That chaudail was telling me that Bapu will soon replace her with me as the woman on his right hand and I’ll be relegated to the hand that Bapu uses to wash his paacha? How dare she talk so blasphemously!

I understand how important you are, the intricate problems you’re having with Jinnah and Nehru and Mountbatten and the Raja’s. You’re getting it from all sides. Everybody loves you but nobody is happy with you… except me of course. I love everything about you. From the shape of your melon like head, to your long elephantine ears, your funny glasses and the tape you use to hold them together. I love your toothless grin to your dirty nails, from your bow-legs to your zenith pocket-watch.

Tell Abhaben that I will always be the one for you. That I’ll be with you even on the day you die.

Tameri Radha,

ManuBen

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When a little bit of LOVE saves life.

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See a dog in distress?

Do a Tsch tsch tsch/ bechara/ this is god’s will/ I hope he survives ever?

Or just act… One small random act of kindness.

  1. Columbo-

-Found on the street in Punjab, India, with an impacted tumor on his eye.

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-3 People couldn’t close their eyes on him. Picked up, fostered, tumor removed

-One person in Phoenix would give him love and care and a home.

-One person would agree to fly him to the US from India.

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-After 2 surgeries on his eye, we find he is heart-worm +ve and advanced stage.

-He also has a tumor on his Penis that requires Chemotherapy.

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Columbo might not make it, but this is not a call for prayers.

This is testament to the fact that he needed a little love and care… and he has given oodles of it back. Its basic human necessity to be loved and it extends to all sentient beings. That is the crux of Veganism; you give love and your receive love back.

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2. Irina

-Found at a college campus with a softball size mammary tumor.

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-Her tumor had burst and we were afraid of maggots in the wound.

-Fostered by a campus professor for days. Antibiotics and magrid.

-Tumor has been removed. She is recovering now.

– The students contributed towards her surgery. This 5 Rupee bill was amongst that cash. 5 Rs bills are rare and this worn out bill has stories to tell about what its been used for. This undoubtedly is the best purpose it tustve been used for- so here this bills journey ends. It’s purpose is now complete.

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-Irina might not make it either. The tumor could come back, and she might never be adopted ( a 6 year old female stray has virtually zero chance of adoption) but she will know what love is. Love from students, fosters.

All we ask is to show these animals the love that we all seek and in doing so they will give us the love that we have sought forever.

Its a win-win-win situation.

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SOMEBODY STOP ME !

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Inertia is a funny thing.

A body in motion will continue to remain in motion unless an external force is acted upon it to make it stop.

But that is physics.

We at Peedu’s People deal with humans.

Humans defined by habits; most of them bad.

Countrymen oblivious of any sense of civic duty.

Males drowned in their own sense of fake ‘dick totting’ machismo.

We at Peedu’s People started our ‘Keep it (yep- its a double entendre) In’ campaign almost a year ago. Here’s the progress report.

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We were just as shy as the next person who doesn’t stop a ‘piss’achar. We were afraid what they might say.

Worse, what they might do when we tap them on the shoulder midstream.

Would they actually turn around and spray us with urine? Would they argue?

They DON’T.

They mostly make excuses (lack of urinals/ everybody does it/ I am diabetic) but when reminded about the disease and filth their habit causes- they actually apologize.

So at Peedu’s People our theory is – They do this because NOBODY TOLD THEM NOT TO;

Not their mother’s who pulled off their elastic drawstring pants on the side of roads.

Not their fathers who stopped often on road-trips to lead by example.

Not their teachers who are just concerned with covering the syllabi.

Not their friends who held pissing matches after guzzling beer.

Not bollywood for sure who has ample heroes urinating on screen.

They’ve never been stopped.

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We as Vegans believe that all humans are basically good people- they just end up becoming habitual adults as a consequence of their circumstances.

Most people are just looking for us to stop them.

They want to be stopped. They might want to change a bad habit once it’s pointed out to them.

It’s unto us to point it out and say- Hey, Keep it in. Nobody want’s to see your junk or smell your pee.

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Gender (In)Equality for All

Our constitution gives us the right to equality amongst all genders.

But we thumb our nose at the constitution.

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Nothing gives the right to gender equality amongst animals.

So we exploit it- It’s a free for all.

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We humans will use any gender (and I include transgender in it) as long as it ‘serves our needs’.

Humans – we seek the male child.

Cows- We seek the female calf.

Dogs- We seek the male puppy.

Horses- We seek the female foal.

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Someone in Chandigarh recently stole puppies from a mother and decided to drop them outside the Gurudwars in sector 23. (For the love of Bollywood- when will we get over this Hindi movie crap about being abandoned outside a temple so as to seek a compassionate, pious adopter-or if it in some way assuages our guilt a little for the dastardly crime we are committing). The eight puppies were less than 4 weeks old and had barely opened their eyes.

-Not only does a puppy need its mothers milk to give it some immunity from disease the mother is the only protection it has.

-The mother teaches a puppy not to fight with other pups or dogs.

-The mother teaches them how to not bite to hard.

-The mother teaches them the street smarts from not running onto the street.

In-effect they can’t survive without the mother.

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Within a day someone took the 2 male puppies away and left the 6 females to fend for themselves. Now we humans took away their chances of survival further as they huddled to spread warmth into each other in the biting cold.

One of the girl puppy caught a cold and subsequently Pneumonia within a day. She was picked up by a compassionate student and fostered back to health.

The other puppies continued to run into the street and 4 of them were killed within the first 5 days. The runt of the litter survived because she was too weak to run onto the street.

Now we have 2 girls who have survived.

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But hundreds of puppies are going to be born this winter in Chandigarh. Most will freeze over in the cold nights, to be swept away by janitors hired to clean the streets by the government each morning. Others will be run over by cars or two-wheelers.

But we will continue to dislocate them.

We will continue to steal the male puppy (specially a black one- per superstition perpetuated by pseudo-religious belief).

The girls will continue to die.

While the girl calves are saved because we can milk them dry and then slaughter them. Male calves will continue to be starved and disposed or sold for veal to the European nations or companies like Gucci for their soft baby leather.

The girl child will continue to face foeticide.

The transgendered will continue to be used as props for wedding celebrations or some form of a novelty sexual pleasure in the dark underbelly of most cities.

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Most women/girls can relate to this form of inequality. That is the reason why most people in animal rescue are women. They can understand this pain that others inflict.

We live inequality in this country.

The constitution protects the humans but the animals are clear out of luck.

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NO PLEASURE IN THIS LEISURE

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A human’s sense of owning never ceases to amaze me.

Growing up in Chandigarh, I always knew where the leisure valley was but thought I’d go visit it on a future date. This past week I was in a situation where I was on my morning run right by the valley.

 

This is as good a time as any to visit the valley, I told myself as I stepped on the gravely trails those circumscribe the concrete paths crisscrossing the 10 acre jogging park.

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As scores of early morning joggers and walkers passed me, I noticed how clean the trails and the gardens were. “This is highly unlike my country”, I thought to myself as people wrapped up in woolen scarves, burning smoke with their breath into the cold December morning huffed by me.

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That’s when the decision of exploring the periphery was taken; mid run.

Aha, true to our countries nature, there it was in all in undignified glory; plastic cups, paper plates, plastic bags, leftover food, un-usable shoes- you name it, we had it.

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The main paths were being cleaned by the janitors and sweepers appointed by the city (some swatch bharat, this) and the garbage was pushed to the periphery. And true to script, there was a sweeper burning the trash and letting the noxious fumes and dark smoke pollute our ‘city beautiful’- without any check or bounds.

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We are a filthy country and we are irresponsible citizens.

But we are obsessed with owning land.

What we haven’t realized so far is that we are all renters. We all rent a piece of land from mother earth- even if it is for 75 years. If we are bad renters then we leave dilapidated houses, abandoned factories, vacant plots with weeds and trash. If we are decent renters, we pass that land on to our children; who in-turn rent it from mother earth.

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If, however we are good renters. Then we care for that piece of land well and other pieces of land well to; be it the land being swallowed by the landfill by the outskirts of sector 38 or our own Leisure valley.

We have the wrong idea about ownership. Ownership brings responsibility and not a right to abuse.

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The Leisure valley is all of ours. Lets not leave trash there for someone else to pick up. Lets not use it for events with small plastic bottles being handed out which kill our environment. Let’s stop people when we see them burning trash or urinating on the streets.

Either we will all swim in these turbulent waters or we will all sink.

Ownership will bring pleasure to the leisure.

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Close Your Eyes- Occlude the World.

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My Bauji (Grand-father) used to say, “This is your country, these are your people, your animals, your environment. You can either open your arms and take it in or close your eyes and be occluded.”
In a period spanning 7 days I’ve had the following things happen;
1) I was told by my best friends wife that I take way too many liberties with my friend (to the point of being obnoxious). As I reflected on it- I realized it to be true. Because my friend is my ‘comfort zone’ I keep on pushing the envelope. It didn’t hurt my ego to hear it. It was more of an ‘eye opener’- sometimes we need to hear the facts to try to start changing.

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2) Then I was told by a friend that I was a cause of so much hurt to them so many years ago. And that they haven’t been able to forgive me. My Bauji used to say- “All we can do is beg for somebody’s pardon. If they forgive us or not is their prerogative.” So despite the amends I think I’ve made- whats more imp is that my friend still feels hurt.

3) My brother told me that one of his 12 steps to quitting Alcohol thru AA involved making amends to loved ones.

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He told me how he lied to me while I was making efforts to help him quit alcohol.

At the end of the conversation he was relieved because he had admitted to his lying. The 12 step program determines his journey.

Me, on the other hand, haven’t determined my journey yet. Being Vegan has helped me in a huge way in being non judgmental, but the last incident involves a reality check for me.

4) Halfway through conversing with a female friend about a part of a womans anatomy, I shut down and said, “I am vegan so I’m not going to utter the funny comments swimming in my head about the anatomy.”

To which she added, “Yes, but you thought it. However funny it sounds in your head. The fact that the thought exists is your judgement.

So the answer is – Yes, Im not there yet. I do judge and till such time that not thinking and being nonjudgmental becomes second nature to me. I am just as guilty as anyone else.

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Some ‘MOTHERLAND’ This…

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As I started my drive back to Chandigarh from Delhi last week I saw a person urinating by the side of street within 2 minutes. Before I realized what was happening I found myself tapping on his shoulder before he had a chance to zip it up.

Some excuses and minor preaching later, I realized that there are just two types of people in India.

  1. Those who urinate in public.
  2. Those who stop them.

If you aren’t one- then you must be the other.

I’ve been the other for way too long. So I decided to stop and interrupt every man’s urinary bliss for the rest of the drive.

They kept coming.

…And kept coming.

 

…And coming.

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And I kept stopping them.

73 of them in 4 hours and 250 Kms.

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Seventy three !!!

Wow…

This is us claiming that dahrti hamari maa hai (our land is our mother)… Or is it really our whore, our mistress (as a vegan I DETEST even typing such words….or worse).

At what point do we think it’s okay to urinate in public.

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But the truth is since I never stopped anyone before today. I am just as guilty of allowing someone to urinate on my mother—unless my country is my whore too.

So let us decide if it really is our mother.

Then we will be the people who will stop others.

Because I know when stopped, they all either say ‘You are right. I am sorry.” Or they say the one thing that justifies all bad habits in the world.

“Everybody does it.”

Well I don’t.

And I won’t let you.

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Where Have ALL the Old Strays Gone ?

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The Indie dog is everywhere.

But you should challenge yourself to find an old indian stray dog.

They are young, they are omnipresent– and then they are gone.

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Never have I seen an old indian stray dog.

The Indie dog is sharp as a tack, wily as a fox, confident as a politician, nimble as a trapeze artist, loyal to a fault, territorial as a landlord but always young.

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Check their teeth; they are all under 2-3 years of age. If your city runs an ABC program or has an SPCA, take some statistics of their age and draw a bell curve.

Do they die young? Do they get shipped off for the Yulin festival? Its still a mystery to me.

The only sure thing is–

— POOF…they are gone.

 

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I Lost Myself to Find Love, in India.

18:43

The amber readout of my Garmin watch flickers on my wrist. “Jeannie, don’t you stay out on the streets after dark in that country.” My husband’s words ring as clear in my mind as my doctors warnings, “Don’t you eat anything that the infamous street-vendors sell, Ms Baca.”

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I hold up the saffron coloured Jalebi against the setting Bangalore sun and bite into the crunchy goodness. A burst of sugary heaven spiced with saffron explodes in my mouth. My salivating tongue feels the gritty texture of fried dough dipped in syrup. Take that, Dr. Whatley.

The yellow and green Auto-rickshaw driver appears more nervous that I do of the fading sunlight. “Madam, let yus go to Yotel. It’s getting dark, No?”

“Relax, Anand.” I lick the syrup off my fingers.

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The soft January breeze teases my short hair. The gentle tuk-tuk of the scooter rickshaw lulls me into thoughts. I’ve always been a risk taker… When they offered me to do an assignment in India, I jumped at the opportunity. This mystical land; Nothing in India is kind to your senses- The colours are bright, the noise is crazy, reality is stark, people feel deeply- I mean anybody who has to ‘FIND THEMSELVES’ come to India- the land of–”

Screech…..

The rickshaw comes to a sudden halt. That’s when I first see Sita– “She’s dark brown and black. Nothing spectacular about her, but she’s run onto the road to come between the rickshaw and her three puppies.” She’s confident, fearless and not worried about herself-

She’s a mother.

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Her hip bones protrude from her severely emaciated body. Then she looks directly into my eyes.

No, Jeannie, don’t even think about it. DO NOT…this is not your country, there is NOTHING you can do, You have a conference call in 20 minutes, your flights leaves in less than 30 hours. Don’t even think about it, just ignore–

She nudges her face against my palm. This is probably the first kind touch she has received in her short painful life.

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Her pain is over- Mine has just begun.

She is now mine. Just like all the other animals in this world that have nobody, have me. She’s mine. I just have to find them a home and love—something all of us deserve.

As I sit back from the drab conference call, my mind races. What can I do? Who can I call for help? Who will help me in this foreign land? And Why?

My fatigued mind can’t think anymore so I put out a post on social media and close my fatigued eyes.

Ding Ding Ding

A series of messages jumping on my screen wakes me up. I rub my eyes in amazement as I read the screen. Facebook has been working while I slept.

Fate;

A man who is a friend of a friend of a friend is traveling to Bangalore from Chandigarh to day and is going to be in Bangalore for a few hours. He just happens to have a friend who has a rescue in Bangalore and can keep the dogs there safely while we figure a way for them to get to the USA.

“It all seems far too convenient,” says my best friend over the phone.

“My gut says, I can trust these people.” I tell her. “I just know I was meant to find Sita and her puppies. “Gosh, Sita even has a best friend called Nandi– wonder if they will agree to take her too?”

So I ask.

So they agree. It’s as simple as that.

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The rescue organization called Voice of the Stray Dogs (VOSD) picks up the stray dogs the very next day. Unfortunately one of the puppies has died. The person who came from Chandigarh works for an organization called Peedu’s People. They collaborate to save Nandi, Sita and her remaining two puppies.

*****

My risk taking ways paid off.

I lost myself in belief of humanity and found love in India. The love of Nandi and Sita and her two puppies.

Now we all need your help to get these puppies to the USA so where we have homes already for them.

These poor dogs who have never known love or kindness deserve the same love I found.

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Happy NUDE year.

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The Indian male is a funny species. A dichotomy of mind-boggling proportions.

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Today I was informed by my gym that 15 or so members had signed a petition to have my membership rescinded from the gym. My fault; walking around naked in the gym.

No- not in the exercise area—in the men’s changing room.

“Wait, what?” I shook my head in disbelief. “Of-course I’ll be naked when I shower.”

“Yes but you have to wrap yo’ ‘tings when you walk around.” He pointed at my crotch.

“Yes, but there‘s no posted rule, although I?ll certainly comply with the sensibility of other gym-mates.”

 

As I started my warm-up today, I reflected on my issues with nudity. I have a huge problem walking around in the buff unless I have to- but that only happens in front of women. With the guys, I don’t really care- well I grew up in boarding schools where we have community bathrooms.

But the average Indian male is a dilemma.

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At a mind-numbing population of 1.25 billion people we certainly are comfortable being nude and having sex—in-fact seems like we are quite good at it.

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So we are nude all the time—but we just don’t want to be seen naked.

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There’s no nudity in our movies but when a director pulls of the coup of getting nudity cleared from our censor board, we throng to the theaters to see that nudity.

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But we are uncomfortable with nudity.

How does that work??

When we were kids and we were caught naked, all our cousins would sing- “Shame shame, puppy shame. All the girls know your name.”

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Such was the shame associated with nudity—and somewhere it stuck in my mind. I’ve never been comfortable in the nude.

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Years of trying to move forward took a huge hit today. I recede back into a shell which coddles me. I am very very comfortable in that spot.

But a progressive part of my mind urges me to stay naked and be comfortable with it… so I will live to fight another day—just not at my gym.

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