Monday, October 19, 2015

Compassion for animals

Another kitten is missing and she was such a cute one.

Like earlier, the mother cat used our flat to give birth and as soon as they were old enough she took them out with her. One disappeared (killed?) during our vacation while Fluffy somehow survived and she became very comfortable around us. This must have been one reason why it was easy to get rid of her too :( .
The reason for the hatred is understandable since she sometimes dirtied the apartment premises though she would have learned to go outside like the rest after a while. Did the best to clean the mess myself but someone decided to end it all. At times like that I just cannot understand humans at all. How one could hurt such an adorable animal. Is it out of fear or plain hatred? Is it because one lacks compassion?

While growing up during times when shops with cold storage facilities were a rarity, Father used to bring home hens, ducks etc. hoping to see them on the table as a tasty dish, but more often it ended up being adopted and Mother too joined the children’s team.  This must have happened in many households. The longer it stayed around, the more chance for its survival and Father tried his best to ensure this did not happen. It is not as though Father lacked compassion but he was only being himself. As for us children, nothing stopped us from eating what was cooked. Did we not learn to be compassionate? Tough questions to answer.
Early humans adopted many animals and many were killed for sustenance. He reared some animals only for its meat and must have developed some sort of relationship with them until it was killed. It must be his survival instinct kicking over his compassionate side? China has no compassion for dogs since they love the meat. Cats too face the same situation and not just in China.


In Switzerland the private consumption and slaughter of dog and cat meat is permitted though its commercial trade is prohibited by law. A 1993 petition to ban consumption failed with the government declaring the matter a "personal ethical choice." In June 2008, three students at the Danish School of Media and Journalism published pictures of a cat being slaughtered in Citat, a magazine for journalism students. Their goal was to create a debate about
animal welfare. The cat was shot by its owner, a farmer, and it would have been put down in any case. The farmer slaughtered the cat as well, all within the limits of Danish law. This led to criticism from Danish animal welfare group Dyrenes Beskyttelse.[11][12] and death threats received by the students.[13]

In February 2010, on a television cooking show, the
Italian food writer Beppe Bigazzi mentioned that during the famine in World War II cat stew was a "succulent" and well known dish in his home area of Valdarno, Tuscany. Later he claimed he had been joking, but added that cats used to be eaten in the area during famine periods, historically; he was widely criticised in the media for his comments and ultimately dropped from the television network.[14]

Cats were sometimes eaten as a
famine food during harsh winters, poor harvests, and wartime. Cat gained notoriety as "roof rabbit" in Central Europe's hard times during and between World War I and World War II.[15][not in citation given][16][not in citation given]

In 18th-century Britain, there are a few records of cats eaten as a form of entertainment.
Source : Wikipedia

India took a different approach towards another animal which gave much to him. Cows have always been an integral part of the Indian household and it being a very demure animal, easily invoked the compassion in us. But compassion seemed not enough to keep it from being killed and hence it was turned into God. Religion always managed to have the last say and people listened better.

Not killing animals is a very noble idea indeed. I would love to live in a world where such noble ideas are possible. But it is wishful thinking. 

But if all those noble ideas stops you from being compassionate to your neighbor  or from someone from your own species, then what nobility is one talking about?

Enough rambling for today but it is a video of a cat being beaten to death and the recent beef issue that brought me to this blog.
The beef issue is more politics than anything else but religion can make people sit up and pay more attention than it deserves. India sells more beef and it consumes much too. I do not think it is easy to change this fact.
Let me end this with an excerpt from another blog, copied without permission.

As I boarded the Rajdhani express from New Delhi for Parasnath for my intended visit to Jharkhand the co-passenger in the side seat was a young boy from IIT Delhi who happened to belong to Jain community and was visiting to Parasnath for religious rituals that his parents were performing. During the conversation he said that he is a vegetarian but definitely respect people’s right to eat non-veg food. He opined that the world was changing and that a business community cannot be confined to narrow partisan and outdated thoughts that look down upon others who have different take on the issue. World is too diverse and as a global citizen you will have to respect people’s personal choices to food and drink he said during the conversation. The boy laughed when I said don’t he think that Jains are hypocrite as the biggest meat-beef exporters in India are Jains and Marwadis. His position was that we are in business and need to whatever is good but at the same point of time narrow attitude may be damaging for future of their business. It was a happier togetherness in the train for nearly 12 hours where I found how the Jain youngsters are changing and feel that their community needs to move beyond if it has to remain in business
Source : Manuski

Thursday, August 27, 2015


This time we made another trip to Gavi. It was a decision made at the spur of the moment between cousins. Too much planning can sometimes kill the plan itself.  In year 2013 we went to Gavi from Vandiperiyar and hence missed the road through the thick forest. We were told that this road from Pathanamthitta, via Seethathode needs either the KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) bus or a vehicle with a high ground clearance. None wanted their vehicles tested and hence we decided on KSRTC. Besides, only a certain number of vehicles are given passes each day and one need to obtain this in advance. We were three families and decided to move from Thiruvalla at least by 5 AM to reach Pathanamthitta in time to catch the bus that leaves at by 6:30. Getting families out of the house in time is no small task but we did manage to reach Pathanamthitta to see the bus about to leave. While the men went to find a parking space for the cars, we ran to catch seats. To our dismay we found that the bus was almost full with only a few seats empty. Initially one thought they were all heading to Gavi, but later realized that this was an ordinary bus that would be stopping enroute to Gavi.

The children had to stand for a while and a certain family selfishly occupied a seat which otherwise could have been shared. The bus left in time and the ride early in the morning was too good. Fresh air, light drizzling and low traffic set the right mood for the trip. The bus halted for 15 minutes at Angamuzhi for breakfast. The choice was Kerala Paratha and curry or Appam and egg. The bathroom was also clean for such a small town hotel. We devoured what was ordered while keeping an eye on the Driver and Conductor, lest they left us behind!

After almost 2 decades of not getting an opportunity, the KSRTC bus made me feel like meeting an old pal! The same old seats and paraphernalia. When it started raining my hands went up automatically to loosen the clasps that held the shutters. And down it came with a crash...the familiar sound felt like music to my ears. Silly me! When you lift it back, it needs to be done in such a way that keeps it balanced, else getting the clasp back in place will need some more tinkering. But for me, it happened like old times J
Two buses trying to negotiate on the narrow road
The ride was too good because of the passing scenery even when the road turned bumpy and when the branches kept knocking the sides and the passengers. These branches were also dropping strange bugs and insects. The road for almost 25 km seems not to have seen no tar since it was first laid! It is almost a four hour trip but I never felt it so.
We got down at the main center at Gavi, only to realize that it was open only to those who have pre-booked.
This was done since tourists were harassed for their camera and other stuff. One can pre-book either a day trip or stay over program. Details are provided on the KFDC website.
Luckily we found a jeep which took us to Kochu Pampa where the government has developed a second place for the rest. They have a snack bar and boat rides too. Since it was lunch time and stomachs (plenty of them!) started grumbling, the men folks made use of the jeep to fetch lunch from a canteen a little away. Meanwhile the rest of us went for the boat ride.  If one is not pre-booking, it is better to bring along some food. The canteen is a little far away and there are no other shops close by and you may have to be satisfied with packaged  juice, biscuits etc. from the snack bar.

The captain of our boat.. Unni

We did see an elephant and wild buffaloes during our trip. We also got to hear about the tragic death of two Gujarati tourists early in 2015. Seems the lady was so engrossed in taking photographs that she failed to heed the warning calls of the rest. When everyone else managed to run away from the Tusker, she continued clicking photos. She was trampled to death instantaneously while the husband who came to her rescue was thrown away and a tree stump went through his neck. This happened very close to the main road.  Wild animals ought to be treated as wild and sometimes one may feel bold, but one can never be sure when they may get irritated.  The following video shows that elephants can be a common sight in Gavi, specially during summer when they move around for water. It is always better to be cautious while enjoying wild life.
The same bus returns from Vandiperiyar around 3 PM. We managed seats this time since it was quite empty. We reached Pathanamthitta around 7 PM. 
One needs to appreciate the driver and conductor of this trip who manages such a precarious route and on a daily basis. As for the driver, while driving his eyes also scans the horizon for wild animals and does not hesitate to stop so that one can see them and photograph them.  Luckily we did not see any very close :)


Sunday, August 23, 2015


Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it.. Right is right even if no one is doing it.

As one grow older one realizes that the word integrity seems to have no value in our times. But what is value? Value must be something that one can measure? And measure in what ways? Obviously money.

Yes.. money seems to be the only commodity that seems to be having a say these days. Many have tossed out integrity for the sake of money. Look at our politicians. How many can one count? Yet, they garner votes.
Integrity is important for politicians because they are chosen, appointed, or elected to serve society. In order to be able to serve, politicians are given power in their positions to make, execute, or control policy. They have the power to influence something or someone. There is, however, a risk that this power will not be used by politicians to serve society. Aristotle said that because rulers have power they will be tempted to use it for personal gain.[9] It is important that politicians withstand this temptation, and that requires integrity

Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity Is Forever says Amy Rees Anderson in her article:

Copying two paragraphs...
If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many. Sales people overpromise and under deliver, all in the name of making their quota for the month. Applicants exaggerate in job interviews because they desperately need a job. CEOs overstate their projected earnings because they don’t want the board of directors to replace them.  Entrepreneurs overstate their pro formas because they want the highest valuation possible from an investor. Investors understate a company’s value in order to negotiate a lower valuation in a deal. Customer service representatives cover up a mistake they made because they are afraid the client will leave them. Employees call in “sick” because they don’t have any more paid time off when they actually just need to get their Christmas shopping done. The list could go on and on, and in each case the person committing the act of dishonesty told themselves they had a perfectly valid reason why the end result justified their lack of integrity. 

 Someone I know has made money the central point of his life that his every relation revolves within it. He made money dubiously and even though everyone is aware of it, none is bothered since money seems to have this wonderful ability to dim the eyes of an onlooker. Money attracts those who love money more than anything else and money whitewashes the wrongs for a while. This person’s love for money is so much that he discarded his parents. The father is no more but the mother who may not be in this world for long wonders how a son whom she doted upon can do thus. And can one beseech the religion he follows? I guess not since those who are leading religious organizations need money and so they close their eyes to such misdeeds.

Has integrity become old fashioned?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


He maybe a vagabond, a rascal but he is a true gentleman and his name is Kanis.

That was the first time I heard this name and FIL explained that Kanis is a long forgotten football player and one of his favourite. (Maybe the Australian player?)

Kanis wandered home one day when he must have been a few months old and the dog lover inside FIL refused to shoo him away. Kanis is of a mixed breed; black and white in color unlike the brown variety one finds in Kerala. MIL, a pet hater had another reason to dissuade FIL. Cats embracing your home is good while a dog will only bring bad luck. (I succumbed to this old wife’s tale too and removed out of fear, one such dog which had wandered in, from my parent’s place.  While returning from Mavelikara to Tiruvella, we dropped this poor dog somewhere in between. My children and Hubby continue to make me guilty over the same while I hope he found another home)
But Kanis stayed and was well trained by FIL. Give him food and he will stay clear of it for a few minutes. I have never seen him gobble even when he was very hungry. Unlike Jim, our Labrador whose mother the shopkeeper claimed has a pedigree certificate which one never got to see. Show Jim food and he will push you down and will not look up until everything is over. Kanis was also a fierce watchdog unlike Jim. But one cannot blame a Labrador since they are a friendly lot and are seldom used as a watchdog, unless people are deceived by their size.
Poor Kanis can be blamed since when Kanis was around a year or so,  FIL was struck down with a series of illness and finally cancer took him away. But then he was 83 years old, hale and fit until the cancer made him stay put for a while. For 3 whole days, Kani did not eat but lay down whimpering outside FIL’s room. He was also seen visiting FIL's graveyard. MIL did try feeding him but somehow the fellow just wandered off. He became an occasional visitor as though to check up on MIL who was staying alone. Recently when our son landed in Kerala, Kanis paid a visit; stayed around for a few days and left again. When I and Hubby landed in Kerala, I waited for Kanis to show up and feared he was killed. Lo and behold there he was! Wagging his tail vigorously and whimpering in his signature style. But he was very thin and looked very old too. He had cuts and bruises on him. I fed him and once more observed how mannerly he was. I hoped he would stay for a while and he must have hoped we would too. But the fellow mistook our going out for another year long absence (saw his tail go way below when we all climbed into the car) and disappeared once again. He knows our car well and this was proved when we visited a cousin many kilometres away and found Kanis on the way. He ran behind the car for a while and then made another customary visit soon.

Kanis spotted recently by can see his wagging tail..and that must be a smile :)

Kerala always had street dogs and if I remember right, there was regular culling years ago. Everyone fears them. Our maid told me that she has only two fears in her life: robbers and dogs. She has a long walk to our place and is constantly troubled by them. She also lost her nephew to rabies.

Dogs do not deserve our fear and ignorance. They are the most loving and faithful companion that a human being can ever hope for. But rabies is real. We have tried injecting Kanis along with Jim but the task has never been easy. Somehow the fellow always knew something was up and disappeared when the doctor came over to inject!

Kerala government has finally opened its eyes after numerous petitions and precious lives that were lost to rabies. Unlike what is being circulated elsewhere in the country and internationally, they are not being culled but caught and administered anti rabies vaccine. The government is following the ABC scheme, ie Animal Birth Control scheme. My hometown Mavelikara is the first town to go into action I am told. All dogs were rounded up by volunteers and injected. They were let loose later is what I heard.  I think the International Animal Rescue team has been working in Kerala since many years and the following is from year 2003.
In additon to our meeting with the Mayor, we have also written letters to the editors of major newspapers regarding our position on the killing of stray dogs and have sent a copies to reporters whom we’ve had dealings with in the past and who have been sympathetic to our cause.

IAR believe that killing stray dogs is not a solution. The only approach which will yield long term results is a sterilisation programme (such as the Animal Birth Control scheme, commonly known as ABC, under which we are registered). The purpose of such programmes is to reduce the number of street dogs in a humane manner and to bring down the number of rabies cases. But time and effort have to be put into making sterilisation programmes work. Unfortunately, many local municipalities have failed in implementing the ABC scheme in a consistent manner and have, as a result, resorted to killing the animals which they had already sterilised and vaccinated! It is important to note that over one hundred years of catching and killing stray dogs has not worked in either reducing the canine population nor the incidence of rabies in India (nor anywhere else in the world). We must therefore turn to more humane alternatives, such as the ABC scheme, which have proven to be highly effective if properly implemented.

I sincerely hope the government keep up their act so that dogs do not become a menace to the society. They are man’s best friend but it is not easy to tell those who have to walk on the street to not mind them. There are many who cannot travel in cars and there are children who walk or use their bicycles to go to school. The fear of them need to be removed so that they are loved and taken care of.

Edited to add the following:

The boycott Kerala campaign is still going on and I think it is only right to sign the following petition so that people understand the real matter.
The #BoycottKerala spiel is a result of misinformation actively spread by AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) and misunderstanding of the State Government's stance. The State Government has decided to use Animal Birth Control measures in view of recommendations made by animal rights activists and experts.


Sunday, July 26, 2015


As a kid or as an adult one may have experienced the exciting feeling during a ride on a giant wheel or a roller coaster or even plain sliding on a smooth floor, until it stops suddenly with a screech or maybe soundlessly. It is only you who experienced it until you join the rest who walks around normally. It is this same feeling that I now experience after both the kids have flown the nest. It was an exciting, never stopping, nerve wracking experience similar to a giant wheel or a roller coaster. You chose it and then something or someone took control of everything. All you could do was either enjoy, scream, laugh or even cry. But now that I am out of it, it is like standing alone and trying to make a sense of it all. You are back on solid ground. But what do you do?

Still trying to figure out what I shall do.. maybe the world will throw me something or maybe I would need to grab something myself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

One day..

One day.. this is the small voice inside the head of each expat in the Gulf region. This day may come for some unexpectedly, when only their dead bodies reach their homeland.  A few others make this day come sooner by their meticulous planning, but for the majority this day remains in the head only, until certain circumstances force them to meet that day in their homeland. It might come as a job loss or the urgent requirement of a loved one back home or old age itself.

Our son too will soon fly the nest since his board exam is about to get over the coming week.  This makes me think about that “one day” pretty often.  I was never a good planner and always had to take life as it came. So guess even this “one day” if ever it comes and whenever it comes may end up the same way! Yet, why should I not dream? So this post is only to poke my conscious later and hope that it may nudge me to action.

It is not a lofty dream either..not at all. It is only to grow a vegetable garden and maybe have a few hens, fish? and maybe a cow and a few ducks…. Hah! Not sure why on Facebook I always land up on such pages so as to get all such ridiculous ideas! This is surely not for the lazy ones and for those who would prefer to sit in front of the idiot box instead. I may end up as such a person too, so let me just jot down to jolt me later.

Imagine growing a lemon tree indoors? Read it here 

I do have a very very small collection of plants out here but the issue is that once we leave for our summer vacation it needs to be shifted to some place where it can be looked after during our absence.

Other than normal gardening, I stumbled upon Hydroponics and Aquaponics systems. Tried the latter at home but am yet to succeed. Aquaponics interests me more since you can have fishes too in the bargain. My colleague told me about a friend of his who returned to Kerala and is now successfully managing it in only a cent of land! He dug a small pond, spread a tarpaulin sheet which extended a feet or two around the pond. Then he spread broken rocks on this extended space to plant vegetables. The pond was used to grow fish and the water was brought out  at fixed times with the aid of a pump to flow through these rocks back into the pond. The nutrients in this water was enough for the vegetables to grow and there was not much loss in water too. One only need to feed the fish. 

Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrialplants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium,such as perlite or gravel.
Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails,fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretionsfrom the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrification bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.

The following video shows a successful Aquaponics system in Kerala

Blog Archive