Category Archives: creatures

Hero and friends

It’s been a year since Hero departed for the happy hunting grounds. I was thinking about how he was selective in giving love and, probably as a result, how his love was particularly cherished by those whom he chose to give it to.

For those who didn’t know him, he came with a bit of a fearsome reputation – our standard instruction to strangers was “isko mat chhoona”. He had even taken a nip of some people whom he took inexplicable objection to, including a few friends.

But when he made friends, he did it heart and soul. This post is for those to whom he gave those. I couldn’t find photos of him with every one who was on that list, but most are here.

His greatest love was always Anjali. Playing with her after we returned from one of our trips.

With Baba, Ma, Gurpreet, and my cousin Chhordi on various trips.

Listening to Mahalaya with Ma at Radio House, Olaulim.

At Suntikoppa in Coorg with Baba, Ma, Anjali, my nephew Arjun (Joy) and his wife Suchita.
Our friends Salil and Monika were part of several trips with the dogs.

Having grown up with our niece Pakhi (sadly, couldn’t find any good photos of the two of them together, or even of my brother Orijit with Hero), he seemed to always have a soft spot for young girls. Here he is with my grand-niece Sia – who was allowed to do just about anything to him – and her toy Tigger.

The key to his acceptance seemed to be one of two things – either you travelled somewhere with him, or you slept in his house.

With my nephews Abhimanyu (Babai) and Rahul, and being playfully pummelled by my brother Abhijit, the only person whom he was ever cowed by.
With some of his dearest friends, at home and abroad.

One of the most astonishing early episodes in a life full of incident was when my brother’s dog Vanilla (later renamed Kaju) was recuperating at our place from a mauling he had received at the fangs of a larger dog. Hero, at the time about 8 months old, took him under his wing and, we believe, played a big part in his quick recovery. Of course, Kaju himself is a spunky dog who shook off the life-threatening injuries very quickly and had a ball with our four larger dogs.

Some videos of Hero and Vanilla mock-tussling in the warm winter sun at our Noida residence.

Of all the dogs that we had, Jaya was a special favourite of Hero’s. Both were of a rambunctious bent of mind, and loved to get up to shenanigans together.

To circle back to the beginning of this post, Anjali was the sun in his life. Though these photos are rather dark and have motion blur, I really love this series.

Frog woo

WARNING: This post involves copious quantities of bodily fluids, both human and animal, and at least one obscenity. If such things bother you, perhaps you should refrain from continuing to read this.

Of all the creatures that co-inhabit our house, the most visible are the lizards and the frogs. The latter come in a profuse variety of sizes, shapes and colourings. And each type seems to have specific preferences of where they like to hang out.

Early on after we moved to this house, there were a couple of these black-and-orange creatures (which online searches tell me are probably fungoid frogs) which were already living in the inner reaches of the commode in the main loo.

130325-fungoidfrog[Thanks to Chime Tsetan for his gracious permission to use this photo. Check out his blog: for more lovely pictures of Indian wildlife]

You wouldn’t see them in normal circumstances, but as soon as you flushed, they’d be forced down into the bowl by the water gushing down. The sight of these brilliantly-coloured beings being whipped around in the toilet like it was their private jaccuzzi was unnerving to us, so we’d pick them out gingerly (not with our hands, of course, but whatever implements were at hand) and dump them outside. But amazingly, they – or others of the same ilk – would be right back a couple of days later. After this happened a few times, we assumed they liked it like that, and stopped fishing them out.

But the hero of this story – let’s call him Mr Bebo (that’s the Konkani word for ‘frog’) – is what I believe is a Common Indian Tree Frog, who’s come down from the trees and made our bathroom his home. I don’t know that he’s male, but let’s go with that for the sake of convenience. One day he’s stuck to the tiles, another day he’s sitting on a bottle of disinfectant, yet another he’s clinging to the side of the washing machine. He really gets around.

The ubiquitous Mr Bebo

The ubiquitous Mr Bebo

He’s a difficult one to get a handle on, generally. Anjali and I can’t ever agree on what colour he is. Either there’s been a sequence of such frogs who’ve changed places over the months, or this one’s gone from being a golden yellow to a peachy pink to a mottled beige over time.

But the features that impress themselves on your mind are those long finger-like toes, with suckers at the end, which allow tree frogs to clamber up and down branches and trunks. They are beautiful, like an artist’s fingers. My brother has similar digits, and I can totally visualise him slowly creeping up the side of a tall eucalyptus using only those for a grip.

So one night recently, I go to the loo to pee. After a few seconds at it, I hear a strange clinking sound from behind me. The memory of what happens next is like a slo-mo sequence from a John Woo film, minus the doves. I twist my head around to look at where the sound is coming from. The light bulb, which I have just switched on, is above and behind me. Mr Bebo has evidently been relaxing on its smooth round surface. But now, as the filament heats up, he has raised his body off the glass and is doing a little dance, rapidly raising one foot after another. Tennessee Williams never wrote ‘Frog on a Hot Glass Bulb’, but it would have been as accurate a description of delicate precariousness as the simile he chose.

Even as I watch, though, the situation evidently gets too hot for Mr Bebo (after all, his toes are his greatest assets, and probably his most sensitive parts). I swear I can see him look at me, gauging the distance. I’m barely a few feet away, easily the nearest surface. He launches himself like a ranid Tom Cruise, and he’s heading directly for my face.

Instinctively, I turn away (remember, this is all happening in super slo-mo) and I feel him bounce off my shoulder. But I’m still peeing — you know it’s not so easy to just turn that flow off – and my hasty evasive action has meant that I’m now rather off target. The guys who make those cutesy signs which say ‘Our aim is to keep this toilet clean; your aim would help’ would not be happy with me.

Turning back, I see that Mr Bebo is now sitting on the raised cover of the commode, and there’s a wet streak down the black surface from under him. My shoulder is wet too. The excitement has evidently been too much for him as well. Even my toes are wet, but I’m guessing that must have been me, not him. The two of us glare at each other as I finish off. Then I shoo him away and start the process of cleaning up the place and myself. Stupid fucking frog!