“recollecting”the frog and the Princess

Well, its not everyday that you hear the frog & the Princess’ kiss alluded to. And hearing it twice from a damsel in traffic distress and a lad in croaking financial agony in one single day, I simply felt dazed as to how many people take fairy tales  and most importantly the frog & the Princess seriously.There is definitely something bewitchingly curious about the frog ( a green one mind it! ) and the Princess.

I do remember myself becoming better interested in the amphibian life after accidentally pondering upon the possibilities of Mr Charming disguising as the not so charming green frog. Life of the frog is indispensable for the life of the ecosystem  it dwells in, and yet the creature has seldom been given its rightful place in the human realm of imagination and creativity.Kissing a frog seems repulsive and yet the task becomes necessary to bring out the Prince once cursed.So when I heard a friend cry out for her Prince to carry her off from the stubborn traffic & she was ready to kiss a frog for it and yet another friend gasping at his credit card bills and willing to turn into a green frog if sure to be kissed by a RICH damsel in mild distress that doesn’t involve money or muscled men..I just felt that the fairy tale frog isn’t that repulsive after all. On second thoughts, I remember saving a frog myself from my environmentally unfriendly cousin, not exactly coz of my love for nature but for fairy tales   and green frogs who just might be…. 🙂

My specs! Oh my specs!!

I felt something not so right with my specs and as I tried to adjust the alignment, I realized that the screw of right handle was about to come off. I dodged and faltered but somehow managed to reach the workplace. It was terrible as I fumbled my way to my office. What would have happened if the screw came off completely! All the way I was apprehensive. The right glass would have come out, fell somewhere on the road and the people would have found me groping on the road trying to find something that they would have no idea about! That would have been bizarre!

Anyway, I reached hospital (my workplace) and as I was preparing to start off the day, the screw came out completely and fell down. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was useless to search for it more since the screws are really small. Dejected – I decided to do without the glasses for the day. But being short sighted, it wasn’t easy. First time I realized how inconvenient it is to do without something you are used to so much. My glasses are my best buddies since middle school and I just cannot survive without them. They are indeed indispensable.

My boss, a cardiologist, came to my rescue, as he always does. I got him a suture needle, thread and a surgical blade from the OT and he most dexterously sutured the broken parts. In a matter of 10 minutes the operation was over. The glasses were fixed to a virtually new one! The stitches were neat and invisible, and it was a successful operation. (I had no doubt though).


The long, strong hair of Rapunzel and poor me

My favourite fairy tale has been the beautiful story of Rapunzel. I loved every thing about Rapunzel. I was enthralled by the enchantress who wanted the unborn child to be surrendered to her at birth because the man had scaled down the wall to her garden to collect the rapunzel plant for his wife. I loved how Rapunzel grows up to be the most beautiful child in the world with long golden hair. When Rapunzel reaches her her teens the enchantress shuts her away in a tower in the middle of the woods, with neither stairs nor door. When the witch visits Rapunzel, she stands beneath the tower and calls out: Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair.

What could be more exciting than this! I was mesmerized by the beautiful braided hair – long and strong and everything that perfect hair should be.

Then the prince charming appears. He too climbs up the tall tower with the long hair, where Rapunzel was captivated. The together plan means of escape.  However, the poor sweet girl asks the witch in a moment of forgetfulness why it is easier for her to pull up the prince than her and in anger,the witch cuts short Rapunzel’s braided hair and casts her out into the wilderness to herself. This was horrifying for me. I used to get so upset every time I came to this part of the tale. It was hard for a child who has dreamed of braided hair like that since forever. The next part of the story was more saddening, and I used to weep a lot. When the prince calls that night, the enchantress lets the cut braids down to pull him up. To his horror, he finds himself staring at the witch instead of Rapunzel. The prince was blinded by thorns, how I can’t remember, but that was disheartening to the core.

Who can forget the long beautiful hair tied in beautiful knots. To have long, beautiful, strong hair like Rapunzel. I have dreamed of the same since forever. More than anything else, the prince charming was more fascinating by the way he climbs up the tower with the help of Rapunzel’s strong and lovely hair. Not to forget he was chivalrous and all that it takes to sweep you off your feet.

So did I work onto to have a hair like that? Well, I tried every means on earth. I tried home remedies, I went for extravagant professional helps, I went for five star salon treatment but the secret formula that the enchantress used to caress Rapunzel’s mane seemed utopia. Lastly, I cut my hair short. Wearing it short seemed to be a much better option, and I am smarter than my friends think.

The art of parrot prediction is dying down

A man  carrying a small portable  cage with a parrot inside, is a common sight at all temples, parks and such places where there is a daily gathering of thousands of people, in India. He is a fortuneteller of sorts and tells your future  prompted by the parrot.  “Parrot astrologer,” is his popular title.

Those who  visit a temple for paying obeisance to  their favourite god or goddess would not be  satisfied with the worship alone.  They would like to know what other fortunes their god has for them for that day and  for the days till their next visit. Consulting a  Palmist or a parrot astrologer is their normal preference.

A palmist doesn’t tell you what will happen to you on the following day;  he would have already apprised you of your whole future such as,   when you will get married or when your first child will be born, how long you would live on this Earth and so on. And you may not like to hear the same old story again and again.  You want something different.  After all, each day has its own destiny.       

        If you want to know your luck for that day or the  whole week, the parrot astrologer is the right fellow to be  approached.  He would have a set of cards which carry some message and the parrot will pick one of the cards and the astrologer would read out the contents for your benefit.

Some  customers may feel happy at the prediction especially the village folk or slum dwellers. Whereas, the   city types won’t be impressed with the  forecast at all. They know that what the  parrot has brought out is nothing but a lucky dip.  Many college students phoo, phoo the very idea. In fact, people in general have started losing faith in parrot astrology. They would rather go  in for computer based horoscope though very expensive.  The parrot astrologers have become somewhat jittery at this trend.

“What am I going to do?” wails one soothsayer  in  Chennai city. That has been his livelihood  for some 20 years and he has been earning between Rs 100 and 120  per day.  He knows no other profession.

“Why don’t you modernize the art?” I told him.  He scratched his head at the word.

“Can’t you train your parrot to hop on the shoulder of your customer, give a kiss on his/her cheek, then come down and collect a card? Customers would love it, you know, especially young maidens?”    The man thought over the suggestion.  “It’s a good idea ,Sir.  My parrot knows   a few   tricks.  I’ll try it from  tomorrow and hope that more customers will come to me….”

To another “Kili josier”  I suggested, “Make your parrot do a kind of  dance to some music before you direct it to choose a card.  OK? People of the current generation  want some thing novel and entertaining. If they do not believe in your prediction, at least let them enjoy the  stunts performed by  your  parrot.”

The suggestions  were  made off the cuff.    I hope  the parrot astrologers treat my recommendation  for what they are worth  and enhance their chances of earning some money instead of giving up their age old profession.


Washing dirty linen in public

I like the Election time, you know?  And we get plenty of it in a democracy.  Currently the elections  for  various types  of local bodies in different cities, towns  and villages of my State Tamil Nadu  are in progress.


Wherever I go I hear speeches and the loudspeakers blaring away varieties  of information., palatable and non palatable. Walls are plastered with slogans.  Right in front of my house, I see auto rickshaws  plying and a man reading  his election speech through a loud speaker fitted on the hood of the auto. The funny part is no body could make out  what the man  is trying to say; one can’t even grasp  the name of the candidate  because the auto  whizzes past your house   within 15 seconds.


But you get much more and  exhaustive information about the candidates and parties from the newspapers. It is only then we  come to know that  how bad   some leaders  or political parties have been  conducting themselves. They grab land belonging to  innocent people and even that of  the Government’s. The  leaders cheat the people   by false promises of jobs, transfers and promotions etc. The impeachers are blunt to the point and mince no words  in exposing the other’s  misdeeds. I wish one was a little diplomatic about these revelations. But no. They insist on calling a spade a spade !   Is this correct, you tell me? But then  this is legally allowed in a democracy.


Next, there is a saying that “All is fair in love and war and Elections”.  I am not sure if the third option I have quoted  is correct but someone did say, “It is all right…”


“But don’t such accusations tarnish the image of  the concerned candidate(s)?”  The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because the affected candidate will deny all the aberrations and turn the  gun on the accuser with more charges.   Two bullets facing each other, eh?  So, I should think it is a kind of tit for tat !


“In which case, who do they vote for?  Aren’t the voters influenced by a candidate’s bad history?


“Did I hear a  ‘NO’?”

“Yes friend, indeed. The  accuser has as many skeletons in his cupboard as the accused ! Both are awful and unfit to be in the ruling clan. So, how do the voters decide who to vote for?  We will come to this point a little later.


Now about the election speeches.  Being local elections, you don’t see huge public meetings  but only roadside shows. The great advantage of these small sized meetings is that you can cross examine the candidate and  he has to answer your questions.  If he doesn’t, he loses marks.


In one case, a listener  asked, “Your  party has  not kept so many promises made in the past.  Why?  Some of them are over ten years old. The speaker candidate scratched his head.  This was a Waterloo test for him.  Then clicking his fingers he answered  like this:  You see the  election promise  you are referring to is only ten  years old;  we are still working on the three year and  four years brands.  So you have to wait your turn.  Be reasonable.  Things take time to implement, you know?  The crowd appreciated the answer and greeted him with applause.  And he won the elections too.

In another case, [this happened to be a General elections case], a questioner pointed out ,”You party has not nominated your  Prime ministerial candidate (because there was really no consensus and there were infighting for the post) and they got away  saying, “We will select a PM through a democratic process after the elections  and not force one on the people now.”  The  public lauded this response. ”That’s true democracy, isn’t it?” the voters hailed and the great  party won the General elections as well.

Lately, the parties have started announcing  a  number of freebies. [Even the Supreme court has permitted this !] There is  a competition in this regard. If one party offers one grinder mixer per family, another would offer one for each voter. Accordingly in some homes you may  find anything up to five mixers.

So, all this is good fun,  good rhetoric and empty words too. Nobody means what they say but say they have to. Having listened to many speeches  the voters indeed  would get confused about who to cast their vote.  One wag advises:  Toss a coin, brother.




On snoring

 It is agreed that snoring is an awful habit.  One doesn’t acquire  it like a disease of a kind.  It comes naturally due to obstructions in your breathing system. Well, the habit could be rectified by surgeons , the ENT surgeons, to be more precise.  We are not going to discuss the medical aspect of snoring in this article  but about its side effects on the co-sleepers.

Snoring  on your neighbour’s  part would bother you if you are in a dormitory and all the occupants sleep almost neck to neck like it happens in a hostel.

When I was a  boarder  some 75 years back, we had to sleep on the floor. We were ten boys in our house.  If any one of them happens to be a snorer, your hostel life, I mean the night life could be miserable.  The trouble is, the snorer would never admit that he is a snorer. “Never.  How can I snore ever?  You are blaming  me for nothing,” he would say in his defence. If two or three of his house mates tell him that he indeed snores and snores loudly disturbing everyone’s sleep in the hostel house, he may accept his crime.  “All right, what do you want me to do about it?” he would ask reversing the  gun back in your direction.  And the accusers wouldn’t know how to answer him.

I happened to be  one of the  accusers.  We scratched our head. One intelligent student said, “We shall report the matter to the Warden..”   “What will the warden do?” a more intelligent accuser asked. “Would he send him to the hospital for an operation of his neck or what?”  Then a sudden solution dawned on me.  ”I shall pinch you and wake you up and your snoring would indeed stop. OK?”  And indeed it did  too.

So two of us took turn to pinch Robert every night.  The snoring stopped all right but poor Robert couldn’t sleep for a long time after that.

Since there was no noise from his nose, we all slept nicely. We were not bothered to know how Robert managed his day in the class room with only half sleep.

In your later adult life, the only time you would admit to your snoring is when the   complainant is your own wife. “Listen, sweet, I had been certified as a non snorer during my school days.  How could I have acquired that addiction as an adult?”.

She told me that I was not snoring but made thundering noise as if I was fighting with someone in my sleep.  She had done some  research  on it as well.  I made the war like noise whenever I lay supine on the bed.  All she did was to turn me over to the side and the  aggressive sound stopped. She didn’t lose any sleep  herself by this curative action.

Incidentally no  young mother ever loses sleep.  Often I have seen my wife changing the nappy of  our little child, tossing the nappy accurately into the bucket kept closely and resume her sleep within two and a half minutes. This she used to do twice or thrice during the night. And she never complained of lack of sleep due to baby monitoring,  on the following day.

How I wish  hostel boys could do this feat.  Robert made us spend sleepless nights on many nights.

Eat bananas and eat more bananas for better health

I hope the title has not given you a negative meaning.  I really mean that you should eat plenty of bananas;  don’t stop with one.  OK?

Banana is a wonderful fruit and yet we use  the name as an idiom in a derogatory way like “banana republic” (an ill managed country)   and “going  bananas” (go crazy/silly) or “go banana” etc.

If only you know and you will  know all about banana by reading this article, you will never look down upon this fruit at all and on the contrary glorify it to the skies.

Do you know, bananas contain three natural sugars –sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fibre?  A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.  You would have seen our cricketers swallowing some pieces in the middle of the game.   Someone tells me that it prevents cramps as well.

Research shows that  just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous  workout of ninety minutes. Thus it is  the number one fruit all athletes and other games players  prefer.

Further, it can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet. You will never undergo any kind of depression if you eat it daily; it contains  tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood  and  generally make you feel happier. It’s good to eat a couple of bananas  before you go to meet your girl friend !

It contains vitamin B6 and regulates your  blood pressure.

Your brain would function better and more effectively. Some 200 students wrote their exams successfully  and were very alert in the exam hall after they had had a couple of bananas before the exam  started.

Banana is also a grandma medicine to cure constipation. Don’t go in for any laxatives.  One or two bananas would set your stomach right.

Do you suffer from hangover after heavy drinking night? Take one banana milk shake  and  sweetened with honey and you would be a fit person for the day.

Mosquito bites could be healed  by rubbing the inside of a banana skin on the affected area; instantly you would feel free from irritation.

Are you a smoker?  Do you want to give up smoking? The B6 and B12 contained in a banana would help the body recover from  the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

According to another research carried out in New England, eating banana routinely  as part of a  regular diet can cut the risk of death  by strokes by as much as 40%

If you want to get rid of a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart with the yellow side out;  carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical  tape.

A bun and a banana is a wholesome lunch  for several laborers who work for some eight hours carrying heavy loads or doing hard work.  And they don’t need anything else.

So,  banana is a natural remedy for many ills.  When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorous, five times the vitamin A and iron and twice the other vitamins and minerals.  It is also  rich in potassium and is one of the best  foods around.

Therefore, don’t you think it is time we gave up using those damaging idiomatic  phrases and replaced them  with a  phrase  like   “A banana a day, keeps the doctor away !”

I wish to thank my colleague  Anil Bhat for providing quite a bit of the above  information on the subject  in our Army Signals  network.  Please forward this article to as many colleagues as you can.

The evolution of Men’s trousers

In the Fifties, men wore loose and baggy trousers, the leg end measuring about 48 inches in circumference. No one looked down upon these loose outfits since everyone wore the same type. In the Sixties, Indian men switched over to the ‘Bell bottoms’, which nearly flapped noisily and swept the floor as you walked. True, everyone didn’t go in for bell bottoms but the younger generation were very fond of this brand. In the Seventies, majority of the men opted for tight legs almost resembling the Ladies’ churidars. Here again, the male older generation stuck to the 34-36 inch bottoms and is continuing even now.

And now comes the news that the 34-36 inch bottoms are too tight and insulate the part down the waist from free air circulation. A particular Store is trying to market absolutely baggy stuff. A customer who walked the isle of the men’s wear department wondered if he was in the ‘night wear’ section. “No, No Sir, this is very much the men’s day wear division,” clarified the salesman.

“But, but, they all look like pyjamas, don’t they?”

The sales man put the customer wise. “They are called ‘Willow pants’
or ‘harem pants’ Sir.”

“To me, they look like ‘night dress’,” the shopper insisted.

“No, Sir. These are our future dress material and we are introducing the loose and wobbly trousers with an equally floppy top in the market. This is the trend of the future. The material is quite light and airy…”.

If adopted, all of us would like grandma’s getting ready to hit the bed.

The loose fitting pyjamas come with matching dangling floral tops. And in course of time may replace the conventional men’s suite as well.

A daring young man walked into his office wearing the willow pants and loose tops and the office goer had sported a sleepy face as well. His boss suddenly looked up and demanded, “Hey, have you come to the office to sleep or what? Get out of it and get into your usual trousers and shirt. Understand?”

The Young man tried to convey, “This is the dress of the future, Sir, … er …. the future fashion, Sir… Am feeling absolutely relaxed, you know?”

Nothing doing. The officer would hear nothing of that sort. He felt that ordinary Veshtis and long open shirts, worn by the Southerners, looked far more decent and presentable comparatively. He summoned the office peon to throw him out of the office immediately!

Could God have made a mistake in His creation process?

Does the Creator God ever make mistakes in any of His actions? Some people think that He does sometime and in fact He had already committed one.

Though everything He had put inside and outside the Earth is for the Humans’ benefit, what good is a mosquito for us? Why did He create these winged creatures which seem to be anti people? If anything they cause diseases like Malaria, dengue fever and what not and seldom any good for men and women.

It’s certain that Adam and Eve would have complained to God about the nuisance value of these biting insects, more so since they had no bed sheet or any kind of clothes to cover themselves from these aerial attackers. “We cannot sleep because of these monsters, Father God,” they would have cringed.

God might have thought over the request and told them, “You had better find a remedy by yourselves.” When our first parents scratched their chin for a solution, God might have shown them some plant. “Ah, that is it,’ they would have exclaimed and possibly rubbed it on their skin. Presto. The mosquitoes didn’t bother them thereafter. But this medicine proved effective only for a few months and the fellows came in hordes later as if to take vengeance. The killer insects had developed some immunity against the medicinal plant.

This routine has been going on till now. Researchers and industrialists have been introducing in the market from time to time several kinds of sprays, cream, vapour, tablets, liquid, electronic devices etc to protect the human bodies from these suckers. And the mosquitoes in their turn, have been evolving immunity of some kind against each measure and after a while start their biting game all over again. Do they also have an
R & D department of sorts?

Scientists also tell us that the effect of the various repellants available in the market lasts just about two hours or so. So, our night time prowlers would wait for these two hours to pass and then attack us like hell. By then we too would be too fast asleep to feel anything about their bites.

Some months back, the Defence scientists came with a chemical compound called DEPA (Diethil, phenyl and acetamide). It is a non-toxic and non irritant chemical that prevents mosquitoes from sensing the human flesh and therefore would be unable to bite us. DEPA does not kill or repel mosquitoes but confuses and disorients them. In other words, this chemical plays on their mental faculties. On contacting DEPA, they would swoon but not lose all their senses and might ask, “Where am I? What am I doing here? Who am I?” which is reminiscent of our Hindi film dialogue. And thus they would forget their role of biting and remain in a state of imbroglio for a pretty long time.

DEPA is meant for the Defence personnel who have to fight from various kinds of terrains which are never free from mosquitoes.

Lately, the American scientists also have come out with a kind of gas
that would upset their thinking system and prevent them from smelling and sucking out human blood. The gas is similar in effect to DEPA.

When and how will these creatures work out a resistance against the new chemicals and gas, is anybody’s guess. But, work out they would
because the mosquito brand R & D department keeps itself up to date and moves with the time!

Creation is around 7000 years old according to the Biblical calculations. We haven’t been able to eliminate the mosquito menace in seven thousand years. So, it would appear that God wants us to live and let mosquitoes also live along side us in the tropical regions of the Earth. Therefore we have to tolerate them and keep on inventing one anti dote measure after another on the time scale.

How to write an eye catching title

Nobody would deny that ‘Writing’ is a good hobby. It doesn’t call  for any monetary investment at all.  All it needs is, your time, patience and determination.

I too was bitten by this desire long long  ago.  I tried my hand at one or two and got dejected when they were rejected by the Editor. “You are not doing the right thing,  Jay” a voice said.

“So, what do I do?”

“Go to a writer of some standing and ask for his guidance.”

And I did.  He had been a writer for well over 15 years. Surely, he must be  able to guide me,  I had thought .

“Ah, come in Jay.  Come in.  Now what can I do for you?”

“Sir, I want to be a good writer.  Writer of Articles and short stories.  You,  being a renowned author, can put me on the right track, can’t  you?”

I decided to address him ‘Sir’ to boost up his ego.  Creating a right frame of mind in him, looked to be a pre-requisite. Next, when you want to learn something from a Guru, you must humble yourself and sit at his feet.  Never claim equality and sit next to him in another chair.

I shall call him PF.  Can’t use his full name. I don’t even know if he is around today.  Nevertheless, I must take some  precaution to protect my skin.

“It’s very simple, Jay….”  He paused, looked deep into my eyes and asked, “Are you good at Grammar? Can you write grammatically correct English sentences?”

“Yes, Sir.  I have not come for lessons on English but on writing in English.”  I wanted to show off a little.  But he didn’t seem to appreciate  my pun.

PF then talked about weather, his circle of friends and how much he slogs for producing an article.

“Carry on, Sir  I  am listening.”.

Then scratching his chin PF soliloquised., “Oh yes you have come to learn the art of writing.  I forgot?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“It’s very simple, Jay….”  He drawled. I though t I had heard this line a little earlier from his very  mouth. “Writing is simple..”  he repeated looking at the open sky.

“How Simple, Sir?” I had the temerity to ask.

“ Simple. Don’t you understand….”

“I don’t understand, Sir” I replied bluntly.

“All right,” PF said, cleared his throat and continued, “You must have good control over the language. Don’t be verbose.  Write always to the point.”

He didn’t bother to find out  whether I was listening to his discourse or not.  He was on a solo mission.

“The language must be smooth.  Don’t use bombastic words. Use simple and commonly understood  words…..”

“Okay?” he asked and focused his eyes on mine.  He didn’t seem to notice the utter confusion  my face displayed.

“Thank you PF,”I wished and left his house having become none the wiser.

Nowadays, several articles do appear on the net on the technique of writing. The first advice I read everywhere is, “Your title must be  attractive, to capture the attention of your reader in one wink”  and then follows a lot of meaningless verbiage that doesn’t tell you a word  about how to design an attractive  title.  These  so called tips haven’t  made me any better a writer.  And dozens of readers praise the article with clichés like, “Good article”, “very informative”  “Now I know where I go wrong, thank you, thank you” etc etc.”   Readers’ comments are as empty as the article !!

I still don’t have the faintest idea on  how to fabricate an eye catching title. The tips given therein are as irrelevant as PF’s advice on writing.

The water melon heads

In recent days, three  colleagues  of mine appeared  before me with shaven heads, completely tonsured  without a single  standing hair.  “How come?”I asked.  They just shrugged.; no particular reason.

Like different hair styles, bald head  also  seems to have become a style of its own.. The latest outsider to join the band wagon is the Indian cricket team captain. As soon as he won the world  cup, he had got his head  shaved off .

“Who shaves your head?” I asked Sathish.  “I do it myself,” he said proudly.  Noticing my  astonished look he added  “If you  could shave your face every day yourself, why can’t I shave  my head myself once in three days? “ A very logical argument indeed. Shaving your own head indeed calls for some skill.

But Praveen, the youngest in the group said, “Uncle, I go to a Saloon.  The barber there takes hardly five minutes to run his machine over the head and it is done.”

Caressing the melon  head with his palm Rajan  said, “It feels nice you know?” “Nice?” I screamed back.  “Listen,  the summer temperature in the Southern part of India is now around forty degrees Celsius. Could your scalp put up with it?”.  “No.  I always wear a hat or a cap or something  to cover my head  when I am out door.”

I was aware that normally men begin to bald around 40.  Have my three musketeers pre-empted nature and made  the whole process look as if it was their choice?   Possibly.


Do the female genders also  go bald? Rarely, I should think.  Hair is the chief asset for a woman.  They nurse it like a baby right from teen age days.  Every woman is proud of her hair and  she goes in for such a hairstyle which would be appreciated not only by the Men around her but also by  her own  clan.

According to my information, while 75% of men go bald anytime after 40, women don’t.  A very small percentage may and that too after 60.  Such women would cover their head with a scarf  and probably  say that it was her doctor’s orders to protect the head from bright light.  Men, innocent as they are, would titter  at her fate and sympathise with her. But women would not buy that argument. They know the real reason.

So, next time you see a woman with a  colourful scarf, compliment her at the selection of the scarf and never ask why she is wearing it.  You will make her tell lies then!!

The small time thieves

Men and Women are of  various kinds and classes  such as Aristocrats,  Crore patis, Society men and women, Political  Leaders, Managers, subordinate staffs, sanitary workers  and so on.  Perhaps you haven’t realised that  there is a grading  yardstick among thieves also.  The  top ones are murderers, dacoits, looters of rich men, big money swindlers  and pick pockets.

The big money swindlers always think in terms of  millions and Crores.  Remember the 2G scams and Common wealth games big contracts in India? Even some bank managers fall under this category.  They are also the people who deposit their spoils in Swiss banks.  “Why not Indian Banks?” you ask. “No, never, chee, chee. The Indian banks  are for small time investors who  are happy to get Rs 500 as annual interests.”

Then  we come to the pick pockets.  They are also  known as  the small time thieves. They would be more than satisfied if they could dig into your pocket to collect  a few currency notes or coins or  flick your money purse or a Lady’s hand bag. These will contain  only small amounts say not more than five hundred rupees or so. The STT ( “Small Time Thieves’) will be quite  pleased with the small amounts  thus acquired.

And here is another type of  STT  as reported in the Press. A news dispatch from Kulalampur says that  some ladies have complained  disappearance of their lingeries, clipped on a string  at  the backyard for drying, are vanishing just like that. The culprits could be STT’s also for experiencing   cheap thrills at handling the  womanly items.

A trap was laid to catch these sexual predators.  Alas!  They were not human STTs but crows who have been stealing these precious items for building their nests.

Crows are expert nest builders. They normally go in for twigs and sticks for designing their homes.  But the Malaysian crows seem to have changed over to using human clothes   for their construction work.  Admittedly they would need  only small pieces of the human wear;  they can’t carry men’s trousers or shirts or ladies’ pants or nighties and sarees ctc.  So their target have been bras, panties and hand kerchiefs.

Residents in Simon Lee, Malaysia have stated that more than 20 people in its neighbourhood have lost their undergarments in the last two months.  Thousands of crows have made their homes in the trees that line up the roads in Simon Lee area.

Have you any suggestions to give  the  lady citizens of Simon Lee about how to  safeguard their under garments?

My first horse ride

My first horse  ride was a memorable one and even today, after some 55 years, I remember its details vividly well.

My first posting as a Second Lieutenant in the Indian Army  was to a Brigade headquarters in peace area as its communication officer. It was my first day in the Officers’  Mess.  Around 1630 hours, I came out of my room dressed in my sports kit. “Ah ! There  you are,” I heard an officer greet me.  He was a Sikh officer by the name Gurcharan Singh, a Captain. Without any preamble he seated me on a brown horse.  “Gold Spot is a fine fellow.  He understands English.  You can give him all your commands in perfect English.  Now, off you go..” he said and gave a gentle pat at the horse’s hindquarters.

The Captain didn’t even ask me if I knew horse riding. Probably he had taken it for granted that all Permanent commissioned officers passing out of Indian Military Academy had been trained on all sorts of things including horse riding.

Gold spot moved out of the Mess compound, stepped on the main road and kept to the left.  “Good road sense,” I complimented him. The stallion acknowledged  my  appreciation  with a slight gurgle. He walked leisurely and grandly.  I too felt proud to be sitting on an excellent English knowing horse. After covering some hundred yards, I gave the command, “Trot” and got into the trotting motion myself.

School children were passing by. Suddenly I noticed that the person trotting was me and not the horse.  “Aren’t you supposed to trot too?” I reminded GS.  Nothing doing.  On the contrary, he slouched,  lowered his massive head and started smelling the ground. He conducted himself  so shabbily that nobody would say he was a horse, much less an Army horse. I was going to say, “Stop  behaving like an ass, Goldie,”  but checked my tongue immediately. I feared that the English knowing horse may feel offended and behave really like a wild donkey. “Won’t you please trot    Mister Gold Spot?” I pleaded amiably. “School children are laughing at me, don’t you see?”

I started  trotting more vigorously now to make it known to the school kids that I knew the art of trotting and it was the horse which didn’t now its job.

I must have made a funny sight too, dressed in white shorts, shirt and white canvas shoes. “Listen Mister Gold Spot, I shall report you to Captain Gurcharan Singh, understand?  I am an officer and you are disobeying an officer’s legal command. You need to be punished for disobedience. In response Goldie shook his huge body nearly throwing me down.  I managed to steady myself.  Taking this as a warning I said, “Gold Spot, shall we return home?”    This time, he agreed to obey, turned around and headed officers mess -wards.

Gurcharan was there to receive us. “Ah, there, Lieutenant.  Had a nice ride  Hope Goldie didn’t give you any trouble.  He is a bit of a mischievous animal too, you know?

At this Goldie focused his eyes at me  as  if warning, “Be careful of what you say.  OK?”  I felt like a little child afraid of its frightful ayah.  “No, nothing, Gold Spot is a fine horse,” I remarked.

Gold spot obviously appeared pleased and gurgled like saying, “That’s better.”  That was my first and last horse ride in my Army life.

Bills on your mind!

When it comes to the monthly line up of bills, I keep having these mischievous and fairly notorious thoughts—like what if the electric meter would stop recording our electricity usage;  or what if the telephone exchange would forget to record our telephone usage for few months in a row; what if the gas meter goes for a toss and the service provider charges randomly taking last two month’s average ( though this month’s could have been a greater usage ; what if the milkman forgets to somehow record the monthly milk consumption of our household, or may be the newspaper boy somehow forgets to land every month with the paper bill.

Wow! What racy thoughts are these? How wishful yet how impossible! Like a wheel that goes on and on and on with its rotations, like the sun which goes on and on with its rising and setting, like the seasons which keep relentlessly and adamantly changing now and then, likewise these monthly enlistment of bills keep coming back in a cyclical fashion to the doorstep. Hmmm..No escaping on that one…And no scope for wishful thinking on that one too!

Bills have become an inevitable reality of urban lifestyle. And why not? You and I endlessly use microwaves and DVD players, geysers and computer; we also indulge in making endless calls to friends and dear ones; we dole out our dinners and luncheons every single day on our platters; we expect a crisp newspaper to be at our doorsteps every single morning (on days when it’s been a public holiday and newspapers are not printed, we crib about there being no newspaper delivered on that day)- which means not even one day, or even one moment do we want to part ways with our countless line up of activities and usage wherein we fail to realize that we are indeed making use of hard core utility services that account for a pay cheque every month to ensure their unfaltering continuity and functioning.

So is it that we have failed to understand the importance of these utility services; is it that we’ve learnt to take those for granted; or is it that this kind of a feeling to bring up such mischievous thoughts is just a reason to crib for no particular reason whatsoever? Is it just an impasse to save money? But Alas! Such impasses do not run through the mind when heart goes in full swing unthinkably and shops at departmental stores some things which were practically not needed! So why then such escapist approach only when it comes to paying bills?

Well, on a lighter note, it’s just a thought…a wishful thought as earlier mentioned. So be it. When I expressed this wishful thought to one of my friends, she immediately stated that I should try paying bills online. She thought I was kind of apprehensive about standing in those queues every month. She thought I was bored of the process of bill paying, when in fact that was not my point. I explained to her that it wasn’t my point altogether. My point was hinted at the notion of what if…. and nothing more than that. So truly speaking, it’s not the process that bothers me. In fact, it gives an opportunity to observe people. It’s an opportunity to experience community living, when you actually end up standing in a line to pay your bill, you have a plethora of possibilities of observing people, of overhearing people, of hearing them gossip, of hearing them complain, of hearing them crib, of hearing them comment, of hearing them fume so on and so forth! So in a crux, it’s an opportunity to experience social behavior first handed. And what an opportunity waits almost every time while one is standing in those queues. Someone complains to the authorities of erratically functioning meters, someone complains about their bills being dropped in neighbor’s letter box every time, someone stands in a line with three to four bills in hand (Wonder how many electricity meters such people have, and wonder how they can afford so many meters. Only later does one realize that those weren’t the bills of separate meters, but their last three months bills they are trying to pay up in one go! And then mind scolds self- like how sincere we are, coming in every month and paying up the bills month to month, while some people can be so careless…!).

There is a numerous range of experiences that one comes across. Like on one occasion, every month I ended up paying the telephone bill and every time I went to do the needful, I wrote out a complaint about our erratic working of internet connection, and every time those authorities mindlessly forgot to solve our complaint and again the following month I walked into the telephone office to pay up the bill, again putting up the same complaint. This just went on and on for three months, until finally one day, I lost my cool and decided to take matters in my hands and again I walked into the telephone office to pay bill and again I made a note of the complaint. But this time, my prayers got listened! And the continuous follow up somehow worked in my favor. My friends resented saying I shouldn’t have paid up three months’ bills if the problem wasn’t getting attention on the part of the authorities. But I plainly refused to do any such thing. Instead, I stuck to my follow-up bandwagon and succeeded. So the common denominator in the entire pursuit was the relentless payment of bill every month. If that wouldn’t have been consistently done by me, how on earth would the final problem have got solved? They would have plainly refused to solve the problem until the dues were paid. So from that day onwards, I confirmed my own thinking about bills- whether or not your utility services are being efficiently run, you need to go on and on with your monthly liability of paying the bills. On the sidelines of writing complaints regarding maintenance, functionality etc, your bills should uninterruptedly be paid up. If you rebel and decide to say no to bills, anyways the situation wouldn’t work in your favor.

So, these are just some of the insights that one gets from a very minuscule everyday (or rather every month) event like utility bills.

Whether you like it or not, bills will be dropped in your letterboxes every month and bills will occupy your minds. As they say- if savings are on your mind, or if shopping is unfailingly on your mind, even bills are somewhere always on your mind, when it comes to running a household. So, take a chill-pill! It’s just a matter of a utility bill!

One In Which I Mention Two Infections

It was the season of change and infectious diseases when even close bosom friends would avoid looking at your maturing infection. Into this change of season, one day, I let myself awake with my eyelids sticking together. But I shall avoid any sticky details here and rush straight to school because it was after all a school day and I have already been late searching for my goggles. In school I joined the goggle-eyed gang featuring spectacular spectacles over their eyes. We were the kings for the day and walked unopposed despite being late. Even Lawrence sir was not at his post to tackle the late-comers just to avoid us. Had He Man come out of the comics and held aloft his sword to say aloud, “I have the power”, he would have felt much the same as I felt that day. I would take out my goggles and in the same fashion say, “I have the Conjunctivitis.”

The classrooms were agog with students talking about the aliens penetrating amongst them. It was done surreptitiously as if in a horrifying science-fiction thriller. An innocuous-looking class, with no signs of extraterrestrial invasion, would suddenly become a Petri dish of chimerical infection. A boy, right in the middle of the classroom, would without warning stand up and declare that he has the infection. The whole class around him would burst out like a bomb being detonated inside a pomegranate. And if it so happens that an under-prepared teacher is present in the class at that moment then he or she is more likely than not to fall off his or her chair. Moreover, if there was one student, soon there were two and three and four and more until the despicable gang became a force in itself. The infection targeted without any discrimination. From the laggers and shaggers of the last benches to the pretentious elites of the front benches, all hierarchies and classifications were diluted.

Soon the word came in whispers that those who have conjunctivitis are to take leave for the day and to come to school only after they are fully cured. But who sent the word? Who authorized the mass leave? Was there any authenticity in the news? And what about the class tests that the students who take leave would miss? These questions remained unanswered. So the gang decided that we would go to Father Peter Arulraj, the Prefect, for confirmation and clarifications. Thus ventured out of the classroom the boys in white, flaunting their chic sunglasses, to seek out the Prefect. Father Peter, being experienced, anticipated such a move and was found nowhere in his office. We stood exasperated as did another similar group from another class. Christie blew at his fake Ray Ban. Talib did a Rajnikant with his sunglass. And we all decided to pursue Father to the remotest corner of the school, although the office staff did confirm our leave. We combed floor to floor, room by room, always missing him by a fraction of a minute. Many a class found Father entering their room at inopportune moments when he apparently had no business being there. It was only when we split into two groups that we were able to trap him from opposite sides into a classroom. Father Peter was a man of good disposition. And he dismissed us quickly with some words of consolation.

The second infection, which I have avoided naming in words, but which pervades the previous three paragraphs, is bonhomie. Anyone who enters the precincts of St. Anthony’s High School is bound to be infected by this spirit of exuberance and good-naturedness. The spirit seeps into the relationship between students and teachers. It is this bonhomie inculcated in me since my schooldays that helps me to spread the joy of living as I go about the world. But of late I find that some misguided people are trying to cure this infection by questioning the wisdom of the teachers. Providence forbids such a cure. Otherwise, how will the lamps be ignited without the spirit?

Oh! That Not-So-Italian Pizza…!

Fusion is the word that’s ‘in’ these days. Just the other day, I was flipping through the pages of a pizza joint menu card, and believe me, I was aghast… Completely bowled over by the platter of and variety of pizzas they serve these days in some Indian Pizza joints!

One of the dishes under the category of Veg Pizzas was named Achari Paneer Tikka! Now what on earth would this pizza contain? Unthinkable but true- it contained Achari masala and paneer as the main ingredients apart from the traditional ones like onion, capsicum, tomatoes….etc. I thought it a bit too weird and zany; unnecessarily adding that Indian zing of masalas to a thing like pizza- doling out a totally indianized version of a pizza. I’m sure if hard core Italians eat our Indian flavours and varieties of pizzas, they’ll surely faint!

No hard feelings, but then just look at the indianized touch one gives to a totally westernized dish! Next on the menu card was Paneer Makhan Masala..For a second, I thought I had entered a Punjabi restaurant. I gingerly looked around just to make sure that I was indeed sitting at a pizza parlor. And yes, I indeed was! So I further went on scanning the menu card and voila! There came another bharatiya version of pizza—Soya garam masala! I thought Vow! Soya is definitely considered the in-thing by health fanatics, but then hello! When I am so looking forward to eat a pizza, I’m not considering the possibility of bringing nutrition in mind…after all with all the mozzarella et al that gets added onto it, my thoughts too would be on the lines of thinking cheese! And then from nowhere this soya element made me think twice about whether to really consider going ahead with my pizza dinner! And the suddenly the words garam masala in the dish caught my attention. I just wanted to go meet the chefs who were working hard in that pizza restaurant kitchen, just to try to talk out to them, how on earth did they invent such a fabulous sounding dish…Soya Garam Masala—what a thing to be added into a pizza….Our dadis and nanis will surely love this one…after all, their most favorite garam masala is used by them when they dole out traditional recipe like matar paneer, dal makhni and so on…And here was the precious garam masala, finding its rightful place(?) within a pizza!

With the increasing number of restaurants serving pizzas, alongside the pav bhajis and paneer tikkas, it is hardly surprising that such a fusion would not take place. But then, just think if we try to put something out of the world to our own dishes, how would they turn out?

What if I put Pav bhaji masala in a kadi chawal? What if I were to sprinkle paneer crumbs in a sabudana wada? What if we try and prepare rajma in buttermilk? What if we put mozzarella cheese in sabudana khichdi? And what if a fish curry were to be decorated with mushrooms, basil or jalapenos? What if I were to cook sol-kadi in parmesan cheese instead of coconut milk? I mean, just consider these thoughts and then think about the way our restaurants have gone over the top of offering customers an experience of Indian flavors when they enter their restaurants to enjoy an authentic Italian pizza?

Why try to replicate Indian flavors and varieties in western dishes- that’s my whole point. Can’t it just be kept compartmentalized? Someone might consider my thoughts to be too typical rather than being experimental. Cooking is all about experimenting and totally out of the world dishes thus get born out of this very experimentation. Agreed. I’m not up against for experimenting cooking per se. I’m simply talking about mixing two cuisines altogether and making an unnecessary khichdi…

We are all aware of how much Indian Chinese cuisine has gained popularity and how much people tend to love the indianized version of Chinese food experience. But hey! Try out authentic Chinese food and then you’ll understand the meaning of authenticity.

So all you foodies out there, you love pizza. Great. I do too. But why should I have to go to Italy to relish a true Italian Pizza. What if the natural way of making a true Italian pizza is adopted in our ways of cooking and school of thought?

Let the parmesans and mozzarellas, jalapenos and marinara play the role they are made out to play. Let the authenticity of a dish stay just the way it was intended to stay the first time a dish got discovered. Let the tikkas and kababs be in their place and let the pizza seasonings be in their place.

Hopefully the next time I enter a pizza joint, I don’t get welcomed by the tikkas and matar malais waiting to be tasted in a pizza joint. I would be ecstatic to be welcomed by the mayonnaise, zucchinis, olives and cheddars, rather than the curry leaves, coconuts and Indian spices.

After all, I would want the experience to be as it would be had I been sitting enjoying a pizza in Rome or Venice…I wouldn’t want a ‘oh-not-so-Italian pizza’ experience!

Adam and Eve of 21st century

The other day I had made an astounding discovery.  Our  Indian judicial system and the way it is practised is easily the worst in the whole universe assuming courts do exist in some planet in some Universe.

Even now our courts shout from roof tops, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”  It has become a jolly good slogan but nobody does anything about speeding up justice  except repeating it. So, the cases continue to pile up.

It has taken our courts 9 years to find  and punish the guilty in the Ghodra rail burning case. However, compared to many other cases,  this is a pretty good going.

Remember the famous verdict of King Solomon some 3000 years back?  The King had  taken less then five minutes to identify the real mother out of the two who had claimed one baby.

Supposing the same case had come in our modern Indian court.  What would be the Defence plea?  “My Lord, this child doesn’t belong to either of the two women. It was collected from the dust bin.” And he would produce three witnesses to assert that the baby was indeed picked up from the road side. I wonder how Solomon would have solved the issue. But the Indian judge would have asked the prosecution to get the figure  of all abandoned babies lodged in all the orphanages in the previous six months. The case would have been adjourned by two years to enable  the prosecution  collect all the data.

After a series of inevitable  adjournments, the baby would have grown to be a girl of six.  And one fine morning, both the claimants would have rejected the girl baby.  “No Lord, I don’t want the baby.  Please give it to her.”  And the other too would have given the same argument.  Until then they hadn’t realized the gravity of  bringing up a girl child. It’s a big problem in India, friend.  How to arrange for  dowry and jewellery and all that. ”No, no baba.  I don’t want a girl child.”  The confused judge would have sent  the girl to another orphanage.

Shall we consider another hypothetical case? God had decided to start a  new generation  of human beings having written off the earlier one as good for nothing.  He followed the same method, of producing Adam from the dust and Eve from one of Adam’s bones.  He had given  them the same command   not to eat the fruit of the tree in the centre of garden of Eden but  enjoy life eating all the other fruits in Eden..

When God knew that the human couple had disobeyed  His command and repeated the same crime,  He sent His archangel Gabriel to investigate the case and report to Him back within two hours.

The first Adam and Eve had  admitted their crime. That’s something great, isn’t it? But the 21st century  Eve didn’t. “Archangel Sir,” she started her defence statement. “It happened like this. I was just holding the apple in my hand;  Satan came, bit a piece and put it in my mouth. Mr. Satan did the same thing with Adam also.” Then both of them cried out in unison, “We didn’t eat the fruit by our own choice, Sir.”

The Archangel   knew that both were telling lies.  But then He had to go by the “evidence” presented in the court. Turning to Satan, Gabriel asked why he did such a thing. “No, no Mr. Archangel,” Satan drawled. “The truth is: Eve was holding the apple from the forbidden tree  thinking, ‘To eat or Not to eat. To eat or not to eat…’ and she kept repeating this refrain the whole day, Sir. I got a little tired of listening and waiting and told Eve firmly. ‘Look here my girl. Why don’t you make up your mind?.  If you don’t like this apple, why don’t you throw it away?  That’s the time Sir, a crow appeared, cut a small piece with his beaks and thrust it in Eve’s mouth. And she thinks that I  had put the piece in her mouth.”

Nearly two hours had elapsed  in the above proceedings. The Archangel was completely baffled.  He suddenly remembered that he had another engagement in Heaven.  So, he quickly adjourned the   case without specifying the date of next hearing and passed on the issue to the Creator God a for necessary advice.

“What happened then?” you ask? Well, friend, you have to direct your question to the Court registrar. On insistence, the registrar said, “There are  35 million pending cases in various courts in India now.  It will take them  at least 239 years to clear them  off at the present speed  of clearing.  The Adam and Eve case will be taken up  only after that.

You are important to me !!!

You are always with me day in and day out

you make me laugh, you make me cry

you connect me, with my near and dear ones

you help me hear lovely voices

you help me click beautiful photographs

and help me shoot videos

you help me see those vibrantly clicked

pictures and videos

you entertain me with enthralling music

you awake me everyday early in the morning

you help me remind about important tasks and

birthdays and anniversaries

of my dear friends and relatives

you have become part and parcel

of my life

I cannot live without

You – my dear cell phone.

Beware ! The coffee drinkers

If I remember correctly there is a saying that “One man’s food is another man’s poison.”

And now comes another similar sounding  scientific discovery that while coffee may boost the brain power in women and make them perform better, the same drinking stuff could impair men’s memory power and slow their decision making graph.  This is terrible, isn’t it?

I never  knew till now that  Coffee was a dangerous beverage. During my college days I used to drink cups after cups of coffee to keep myself  awake and study my lessons. Whereas one fellow used to drain a cup of coffee down his throat to fall asleep. At that time, I didn’t understand this double standard Mr. Coffee has been practising. And now the scientists have revealed its real secret.. Ah so, Coffee is a double crosser, eh?.

Most of us  the South Indians, love coffee and we have the habit of drinking coffee during ‘tea breaks’.   Anytime coffee, has been  our refrain.

But all that’s going to work in revere gear as far as men are concerned.  But women should be happy.  They would be the real beneficiaries of the discovery.

Say, you are a big shot in your organization.  There is an important meeting today wherein some vital decisions have to be taken.  If you attend  the meeting after a heavy dose of coffee, you are finished.  Your decisions are bound to be  cock-eyed.

But the women executives must come for the meeting after consuming some two or three cups of caffeinated coffee.  Then they would talk a lot of sense with a lot of logic and put across their views so very  logically and powerfully to sway the decision in their favour.

The Private secretaries must be educated on this theory. They should quietly slip in a good cup of flavored coffee at the boss’s table if the PS wanted the boss to take wrong decision.  Otherwise, they should supply only tea, strong tea, a harmless stuff, so far.

The theory could be used for some  advantage in the home front.  If the wife wants her husband to take a wrong decision, stuff him with coffee, in which case he would fall asleep fast and snore like a bull.  If a favorable decision is required, give him water and only water with a confession that she has run out of coffee and tea in her kitchen.

What do our pet animals think of us?

My family members and I are ardent dog lovers. Once  we had  4 dogs, a cat and a parrot as our home pet squad. They got along well with each other. Whenever we went out, we used to  lock them up inside our home. In any case, they had no idea what life was like outside our home or on the streets.  They were home bound living beings.

All of them had been trained  in English. They understood our lingo and obeyed our commands – most of the time.  I used to wonder what went on in their mind whenever we issued an order.

I can’t  tell you anything authentic about their reaction.  Though they do not speak out  the human language, they  would convey their thoughts and responses  by some body action such as: by a wag of their tail or through eyes  or some facial expression.  It’s up to you to interpret their sign communication.

Of the four dogs, one fellow, a German  sausage, by the name Chottu turned out to be very clever and smart. He  had appointed himself leader of the group. He could express himself very clearly and  most unambiguously too. One afternoon he was fast sleep.  I called him over.  By a small sway of the tip of  his tail he indicated that he had heard me. “Why are you disturbing me, Master?” was his answer.

“That’s not your business.  Come here.”

“I won’t come.  My sleep is very sweet.  I can’t  break  it.”.

“Sweet, my foot.  Come here at once.  Otherwise, I ‘ll beat you. Understand?”

“Oh, I see?  I will complain to Mummy about you.  OK?”

“Mummy?  She is my wife, Chottu……”

Interrupting me he said, “She is my Mummy, Mister.  Mummy’s are very fond of their children.  Don’t you know?”

Unable to bear his tantrums I jumped to my feet and rushed towards him.  In double quick time he got up and ran to his Mummy, wailing like a wounded dog. and curled around her feet.

The other members viewed him with some anger. “Don’t be stupid, Chottu,” said No. 2, the cocker spaniel.

“Shut up, idiot.”

The cocker ran to our elder son, who instead of finding out the problem, started petting him.  The Spaniel felt mighty happy and even had forgotten why he had gone to the eldest son.

The  parrot shrieked out the only line she knew, “Chottu, stop it.”

Chottu ignored the rebuke and dug deep into Mummy’s legs.

Meantime, the door bell rang.  As was customary, all members including the cat  rushed to the front door barking and meowing.

I went back to my book.