March 31, 2017

Pi - from Romania to Toronto

Happy Pi-versary!
Today marks two years since I found myself at Pearson airport waiting, in one of the arrival lounges, for a dog from Romania. I remember being nervous, excited and anxious. Thankfully, Andrew, agreed to drive me to and from because I don't think I could've driven there and back successfully given the flurry of emotions I was feeling. I knew I'd be meeting other folks and seeing other animals, but it was still a bit surreal waiting there among lots of other people - for a dog to come out of arrivals. That is how green and new I was to international adoption. But, what an experience it was and continues to be.
I don't even remember the nonsense I was spouting to Andrew as we waited for Rebecca to come through the doors with Pi. I glanced at some faces around the arrival area and didn't register much at the time. And then the doors opened and out came this woman with four crates - 3 dogs and one cat. The moment she came out, I just remember stepping forward and towards her as did other people. There was a lady from a rescue group in Hamilton, I think, and Carlene from Kingston and I'm not sure who else. Someone said to me, "Are you Vee? You're here for Pirat right?" All I remember saying is, "yes" and thinking 'how do you know?' I'm not even sure who asked me that. My sole focus was this dog in a crate that had the most soulful eyes and appeared quite timid. The dog whose photo I randomly came across - I'm not even sure where (either Facebook or somewhere online) - and the moment I saw that photo, I knew I had to find out about him. That dog of course was my Pi. You know how in movies they show you how things slow down around the person in focus and other voices seem distorted or faded - that is exactly what happened to me in that moment when I saw him in front of me, in his cage. I know Rebecca apologised that he didn't have a tail and I know she said people probably chopped it off but I couldn't even fully register all of that in that moment, because Pi was here now with me.
He was so quiet and good on the drive home and once home, I introduced him to Charlie who looked at me like 'who is this guy?' But Pi climbed into my lap and it was nothing but love. I tried to bathe him and he was shivering so badly I felt bad putting him through that. He loved being wrapped in a towel and so began our relationship. Pi has taught me a lot about myself and how I work and how he works and we are so connected by that. I completely believe that #loveislove (yes, it's a hashtag that has different origins but the meaning is the same). There was so much to learn about a dog that has been abused - from how to approach him/her, how to handle him/her, what scares them (from types of noises, to types of beings), how to train him/her, etc. For instance, if you put your hand towards Pi's face (whether you're simply wanting to pet him or carress him) he flinches. It was heartbreaking. The solution was, I just kept my palm outstretched and then he'd come and place his face against it and all was well. When we're out and about, and he's being difficult and doesn't want to move - you know what works? What works is me sitting with him or gently talking to him and then he immediately gets up and moves. Yelling, trying to make him move, does not ever work. It doesn't work with me either so why would it work with him? Love works.
Two years later, he still has his issues but he sleeps on comfortable beds and among silk cushions and gets belly rubs and treats and torments his brother Charlie. When I run my hand across a part of his body I feel the deep scar left by I don't know what. He lets me touch his stub and sometimes he cries out in what I assume to be phantom limb pain. His snores keep me awake at night, but he has the gentlest kisses and can't get enough of being near me, so I laugh at his snoring and record all the moments I possibly can. He loves fresh air and the road - I think that is his natural state of being. Off late I wonder how he was born, where his mother is, if he had siblings but I'm never going to know and such wondering doesn't help me or him.
It's been two years since Pi came home to Charlie and me. I've heard so many things regarding this rescue - both positive and negative. The negative made me hurt and made me angry, but it fuels me to do better for this being who deserves good things after a whole lot of bad. Happy Pi-versary fatso. lol (he's pudgy now).

March 31, 2015


April 1, 2015 marks 6 months since my Jackie passed away.  I can't believe it's been 6 months already and then I can't believe it's only been 6 months.  I feel like I've been missing her and feeling her loss for a longer period of time.  I want her back.  Sometimes there's a voice inside me screaming, "I want her back NOW!"  The reality of this situation sucks.  To say that her loss has left a gigantic hole in my heart and life is an understatement.  I am heartbroken x infinity.

I've been told, in time, things will get easier - the memories will get happier, the pain will lessen, and life will move forward.  Yes, life constantly moves forward whether you choose to participate in it or not.  I'm still waiting for the memories to get happier.  Most people live on Planet Earth.  I live on Planet My Jackie Died. 

I've been avoiding writing or delving too deep into all of this because of the sheer anguish it causes. It doesn't change the reality of the situation.  Jackie permeated through every aspect of me and my life and there are many reasons why I say that.

 How can this tiny box hold all that is Jackie? She was and continues to be such a huge presence.  It makes me angry to see this box and yet I keep it because it also gives me comfort at times.  It is because of Jackie that I learned to love even more than I thought was possible.  I got over my fear of animals because she came into my life.  She turned my fear into curiosity which then turned into understanding and love for animals.  I didn't see her as a dog, but as a being.  If you could have yourself mirrored in another soul - for me that soul was Jackie.  And now when I think of her, the image that immediately pops into my head is of her last moments; of her lying on the table at the vet's and of seeing her take her last breath.  My poor girl.  So many people say I can't beat myself up over this - but how can I not? I decided to end her life.  Yes, it was a decision made based on medical and logical reasons, yet there remains guilt attached.  This was the hardest decision I had to ever make and then to see it through and go through days of knowing the inevitable was coming - preparing for it, trying to spend every moment you possibly can with her - it took its toll.  

Jackie had a massive tumour that was inoperable given how large it was, the placement of it and her age.  She was already having difficulty breathing and was slowing down.  I knew something was really wrong because during the last few days she would lay on my lap and not move.  That was not normal for her - as she was very much her own being until then.  The last month with her especially was filled with many sleepless night as I would lie awake listening to her try to breathe.  I would rush home from work and I would actually walk in to see if she was still alive or not.  It sounds horrible, but it's true.  I made the decision and set a date for her final visit to the vet, but every time I went to sleep and when I woke up my first thought would be to wonder if she survived the night.  Her passing away in her sleep would be a boon compared to having to go through with the decision of having something injected into her and then seeing her stop breathing.  It all happened pretty quickly and peacefully at the vet's.  She, of course, knew.  Telling her repeatedly that I loved her and she was the best thing in my life and for her to be at peace became a loop of words. 

6 months back, Jackie breathed her last and I know a part of me went with her.   

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
- Mary Elizabeth Frye

~ Jackie : September 19, 2004 - October 1, 2014 ~

January 05, 2014

The long and short of it

I must begin this post by saying that this will probably make me sound narcissistic, but such is the nature of what I write.
About a year ago, I chopped my off my hair into a style that is touted as the pixie cut.  Not a lot of thought went on before submitting myself to this transformation.  I have previously told myself that I would grow my hair for two years and not touch it.  I achieved that successfully and it grew long and quickly and I let it be.  A week before the New Year of 2013, a feeling began to gnaw inside of me saying, 'I want the long hair gone!'  There is no logic to this; simply that the long hair had to go.  It had become a burden.  I was not graceful with it even though people are surprised to hear me say so.  I didn't have patience with it; it would get stuck in the most annoying places like car doors (yes, it has happened) and it woke me up at night.  I can identify with what blogger Shreve Stockton had to say, "Long hair would be awesome if I were a medieval princess and had several handmaidens who would brush it and braid it with jewels, but I’m not and I got sick of how much time I had to spend fussing with my hair so off it went. (I also think it’s karmically weird to have that much of one’s past attached to oneself. Not that it’s a bad thing ~ some people handle it incredibly gracefully but I am not one of those people.)"  So, I spoke to my sister about it and she found the perfect style for me.  I went to the hair dresser she recommended and said, on New Year's eve, "I want to chop my hair off."  The hair dresser, ED (her initials), looked at me with concern and I spent the next few minutes trying to convince her to cut my hair as short as I wanted it.  She told me that she had been doing this for 15 years and she does not do a dramatic change on Christmas eve or New Year's eve.  I could not believe what I was hearing.  She even consulted with a co-worker of hers who agreed that I should not make such a change on New Year's eve.  I felt so disappointed and wondered why I had gone there and not elsewhere.  I told ED that this was how I made decision and that I knew myself, but the woman would not budge.  Finally a compromise of sorts was reached and she cut my hair a little short and told me to come back after thinking about it for a week.  I said to her, "you are the strangest hair stylist I've ever met" and left the salon unsatisfied and dejected.  I already knew I would be going back as soon as I could.  But life had other plans and it decided that I was to be holed up in my apartment with the flu.  So, a week later I went back to ED and got the actual cut and look I wanted.  I was happy and relieved and reiterated, "I know myself."  Anyway, she took some pictures of my hairstyle for her portfolio and now agrees that she knows me well enough to realize not to argue with my decisions.  I am often reminded of this scene from Roman Holiday when I think of my interaction with ED:
It is after leaving the salon, that the journey really begins.  Since my hair cut I have received daily praise for it.  I cannot believe it even though I am constantly and genuinely thanking people for their kind words.  The reactions have been unbelievable.  To me it is simply a hair cut.  The hair will grow back (if I let it).  However, the first few days at work I felt like I was inspiring women to take risks.  I've heard comments  like, "you have balls" to, "you are showing us how to take risks."  People are comparing me to someone famous to whom they can relate like Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, Audrey Hepburn or the wife on Homeland who chopped her hair off into a pixie cut as well.  Thankfully there was one sane friend who said, "you look like Veena."  I have been told that I am blossoming under this cut.  Of course that made me wonder what I looked like before with long hair.  People think I look much younger (I get carded often at the LCBO).  One girl always tells me, 'you own it" and doesn't want me to grow my hair out - ever.  I feel like a whole other world of attention has opened up - one that I never expected.  Along with the positive, there is the negative as well - people who think they need to tell me how much they like women with long hair.  One man said to me, 'I thought about it for two days and I have decided I like your hair."  He was someone I saw in my work building but had never spoken to until that day.  You try to take things in stride and tell yourself that you did what you wanted to and others opinion really doesn't concern you; however some days you only wish no one noticed you or your hair.  Again, I share with you words written by Shreve, "The common reaction I’ve caught is that people seem genuinely surprised that they like it. Short-short hair is simply not seen on females between the ages of 6 and 60 around here. One sweet Mormon mother did look at me in absolute dismay, and I could tell she was thinking, “now how are you ever going to marry and have children if you don’t have your long hair??”
Personally speaking,  I do feel like a weight has been lifted and I can concentrate on things other than worrying about my hair.  The side-effect of this hair chop has been that I felt more confident about presenting myself to the world.  I automatically started to dress better in keeping with a modern look that I felt warranted such a cut.  A co-worker in fact remarked on that and I found it interesting that I began so doing without having thought about it.  Part of me feels silly writing about this as a topic, but the amount of attention and reactions warranted this telling because I needed an outlet to express how gobsmacked I was by all the responses.  I feel like I need to be thankful that I have a face that is decent enough to be viewed because I can't hide behind my hair anymore.  That was a big change for me.  People simply viewing my face - the expressions, the reactions - everything out in the open.  A year post hair chop, the reactions have tempered from my friends and family - though I still hear something every now and then.  But the attention from strangers still continues.  Who would have thought that cutting off one's hair would bring such introspection.    

July 15, 2013

Babloo and Blondie

This is the story of Babloo and Blondie - two creatures who had the odds stacked against them yet they lived their moments fully for the short time they were around and sadly left us with only memories.

I met Babloo when I was volunteering at the Blue Cross of India - Chennai.  That is also how I met a new friend, Bhargav.  Bhargav was holding this gorgeous sleek black puppy whose eyes sparkled brightly and who seemed to have a permanent smile etched on his sweet little face.  Just one glance and you could see he (Babloo) was full of love and life.  I asked Bhargav if I could hold the puppy and from the moment I did, I felt like I did not want to be parted from Babloo.  If you put him on the floor, Babloo went from one end of the room to another like lightning!  Oh, did I mention his back legs were paralysed due to a severe form of dysplasia?  Despite that, one could never have called this creature handicapped in any way.  Everyone who came in contact with him fell in love with him and wanted him to be adopted and find a forever home.  I was seriously looking up the process involved to bring Babloo back with me to Canada.  That's how attached I got to him in simply one day.  I would run to BCI so I could carry him around with me during the time I spent there.

Eventually, since I was on vacation, I decided to go traveling and seeing other sights that India had to offer and it was during my stay in Wellington that Bhargav called to tell me that Babloo had passed away.  To say I was saddened would be a trivial expression to how I felt the moment I heard the news.  To his credit, Bhargav had managed to find a foster home for Babloo but it was too late.  While at BCI, Babloo had contracted parvo and unfortunately his symptoms were caught too late and Babloo passed away in Bhargav's arms.   Bhargav did not want me to find out via Facebook or through some other means, so he called to give me the news himself.  It was difficult not to cry and while I had my cousins to share my sorrow with, nothing could fully express how I felt about Babloo's passing.  There was, for a short period of time, this vibrant, positive, energetic being who filled you with faith and hope along with the strength to never give up.  And then he was gone and I was not even there during his last few moments.  I think that is what bothers me the most along with the sense of unfairness that descends upon your thoughts because one cannot make sense of it.  When I think of him, which is often enough, I remember this smiling, bright-eyed face and body that was nestled in my arms.  I miss him terribly and I hope he didn't suffer too much in the end.

I met Blondie at my cousin Shan's place in Wellington.  She was one of 5 kittens born to Shan and Dennis' cat - Smokey.  Blondie had been the runt of the litter and was quite the trouble-maker.  She was my favourite.  She picked fights with her siblings, got into mischief often  and snuggled up when the time was right.  To say she was precocious would not be a lie.  After a few months with their mother, all 5 kittens would be adopted by other humans and would go off to their new homes.  My cousin Vidu's favourite was Felix - the philosopher and Shan found her favourite in Coal - a kitten with jet black paws and really soft fur.  He could do no wrong in her eyes and infact it was Blondie who was scolded often for causing mayhem and troubling her sisters and brother.   Off went the kittens to their respective new homes, all except for Coal who remained with Shan.

A few days back, Vidu told me that Blondie had passed away sometime last week.  Four of the five kittens had been infected with a bacteria/virus and did not make it.  We are all sad of course.  It is hard to imagine that beings you chased around, held in your arms and watched in absolute delight and fascination are no longer breathing or moving; no longer alive.  Blondie - the fighter - was not able to pull through and this unfortunate turn of events disheartens me to know end.

And so, I need to write.  It is my best way in dealing with emotions such as these.  I know the logical reasons that tell me that Babloo and Blondie could not have survived, but I am trying to understand emotionally, and even spiritually, why they had such short lives.  I guess you could reflect and say that they taught me/us to live each day and moment to the fullest because you never know what tomorrow brings.  Animals do not think of or plan for the future.

Inspite of all that, all I can feel now is a great amount of sadness and sorrow and I know that one day I will have tempered my emotions when I fondly remember them.  But now you also know that lovely creatures such as Babloo and Blondie existed.  They were loved, a lot, and they are missed a lot.


January 17, 2011

A year has passed...

...and I have missed you, almost, daily Paati. I hope you're in peace.

Your granddaughter.
Publish Post