When a hero dies, as much as one mourns his death, one also celebrates his life. In the nearly 16 years that Hero was in this world, there was much to celebrate. He lived a life full of action and adventure, with panache and joie de vivre. Words won’t suffice to talk about the place he had in our lives, so I’m going to let pictures do the talking. In the first of this three-part recounting of his life, we’ll focus on the travels that were such a defining aspect of it.
Pictures in this and other posts on him are from his many friends and admirers – in particular, Anuradha, Gurpreet, Madhura, and Srijit – besides Anjali and me.
Two Scorpios, one Alto, five other dogs (not all of them visible here), two humans – the ingredients of Hero’s travels
“I call shotgun!” “Oh wait, the driver seat’s vacant. I’m taking over!” Bottom: Hero pretends to drive, on a tricky descent from Mandu down a rubble-filled dirt track.
His preferred vantage point was the middle of the centre seat, from where he could survey the road ahead, and quickly dart to any of the side windows if there was anything worth barking at. Once in a while, the burden of holding his head up would get too much for him, at which time the driver’s shoulder served usefully as a chin rest.
But any location and position in the car was fine…
..as long as he got to check out the sights. Clockwise from top left: passing a herd of goats near Gwalior; looking at monkeys that had been chirping at him from the ramparts of the Agra Fort; “What on earth are those things?!” mystified by camels on a village track in Gujarat.
And, of course, give passing dogs a piece of his mind. Yelling at Suzy, the Alsatian at the Hotel Haveli in Ajmer.
Going places… top to bottom: at Deja Vu in Naukuchiatal, UP, on his first trip ever, 2005; in the shade of an ancient wall on the edge of a gorge in Mandu, MP, 2006; taking a sip from the Narmada at dusk, near Khalghat, MP, 2006.
In Pratapgarh, Maharashtra, 2006 – walking down the unending staircase inside the fort; running around where Maratha soldiers once patrolled; more monkey business through the window of the PWD Rest House where we stayed inside the fort.
The first sight of the sea, at Ganpatipule, 2006; Hero, of course, vaults right in!
Doing the raja thing in the excessively pink bedroom of the Royal Mandwa Suite no 1 at the Chanod Haveli in Gujarat, 2006; later, checking out the Narmada nearby.
Taking in the view from the first-floor balcony of Bhakti Kutir in Palolem; and playing tug-of-war with Bhaloo and Jaya, while Anjali struggles to hold it all together along with her skimpy bikini on Agonda; Goa, 2007.
In Suntikoppa, Coorg, 2008: seeing Bhaloo hitch a ride on a coracle with Anjali, Hero decided to try and scramble aboard; having nearly capsized the craft, he was pushed unceremoniously overboard, and returned to the shore sneezing with indignation.
Wildernest, Chorla Ghats, Goa, 2007: merrily trotting along on a path made muddy by the monsoon; and later in the room, washed and dried, enjoying the view of the jungle from the bay window.
Mount Abu, 2008: At Trevor Tal (where rumour has it there was a crocodile); and at Roop Mahal, which was my home for the first 8 years of my life (Hero couldn’t care less for the personal history!).
Surla, Goa, 2009: Tugging me and the rest of the dogs along on the rocky plateau; and later, on a dry river bed nearby, deciding to take matters and the leash into his own mouth as it was troubling him while trailing behind.
Changanassery, Kerala, 2009: Hero got a ride on a houseboat and was fascinated with the water rushing by, and things and people on the shore (the curiosity was mutual).
For the next couple of days, whenever we sat on the canalside platform, he would stare wistfully at boats passing by, big and small. Sometimes, it was clear to us that he was judging the distance to the boat and whether he could make it across, and we made sure to hang on to him when he did that.
When we had to leave, he got his chance to be on the water again, as we had to travel by boat from the island that the resort was on to where the Scorpio was parked. He was happy!
Back on the beach, in Kannur, Kerala, 2009.
In 2011, during a trip to Off The Grid, a resort near Castlerock in Karnataka, Hero had the adventure that defined his life. While we were trekking at the top of the Dudhsagar Waterfalls, he decided to take off on his own.
Frolicking with the other dogs in a pool on the dry riverbed above the falls; and later, sitting on a ledge way down below, overlooking the train tracks where the water flows down. This was our last sight of him. The next time we looked, he was gone, where we had no idea.
This blog started with my post about Hero’s disappearance: https://apnapun.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/heros-way/
Astonishingly, 22 days later, we managed to find him and bring him back. That story is told here: https://apnapun.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/the-return-of-hero/
When he returned from his epic outing, he was little more than skin draped over a skeleton. But love and a lot of fat-rich foods got him back in fighting form quite quickly.
Around Amboli, 2013: on the way back from a trip to Girivan near Pune.
Amboli, 2019: at a resort called Mrugaya.
Vengurla, Maharashtra, 2019: he loved the beach trips.
Hero’s last time at a beach, in Morjim, November 2020.
Master of his domain. In the sea at Hedavi, near Chiplun, Maharashtra.