Australian Zebra Finch Birds – my first pet at age 35 years

Rekha has never liked animals. Or birds for that matter. Or fish. She would eat them, but to see them alive give her the creeps.

You probably ask, “If she was so allergic to animals, how come she married you?” Well, my answer is that before marriage I did behave like a human.

Though there were times when she called me a Dog. You got to give it to Rekha for being appropriate – she never addressed me as a dog in front of strangers & relatives. It was reserved for occasions when we were alone – especially when we were in the bedroom.

“You are a dog. Can’t you understand a simple ‘No’?”

“Why are you behaving like a street dog? I am your wife….behave like a gentleman.”

Till the day I decided to get a German Shepherd in the house, I didn’t know that Rekha hated animals. Unfortunately, the only questions I had asked her before our marriage were:

“How much money can your parents pay me if I get married to you?”

“How much money does your father have?”

“Do you have any younger sisters, if yes, is she pretty?”

“How many of your kins do we have to divide your father’s wealth with?”

As happens with most husbands, before marriage I didn’t asked the most important question: “Do you like animals in the house?”

I have always wanted to have pets at home. As a child our parents had trouble feeding the three of us – me and my two sisters – so they didn’t prefer pets. The moment I got a job and became independent, I wanted to get a pet but I had to travel every weekend to Madurai…which meant the pet had to be locked inside the house for two days. So no pet was possible, till I was alone.

The moment I got married, I decided to pursue by life long dream.

“Rekha, we should get a pet for the house.”

“Why Rajan? We just got married – I am your pet…and you are mine. Why do we need a third pet?” Rekha was as seductive as she could be. I fell for it and forgot pets for a year.

With time, we stopped being each other’s pets. That’s when I decided to ask Rekha again.

“Rekha, how about we bring a German Shepherd home?”

“What do you mean German Shepherd?” Rekha didn’t understand my question.

“Let me be straight…can a German Shepherd stay in our house? I responded in haste.

Rekha started blushing. This surprised me. But I waited for her to say something. After the blood had rushed down her face and down her neck…she regained composure and said: “Since reading Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist…I have always wanted to meet a traveling Shepherd. Now that we are short on love….a traveling Shepherd could mix things up.”

“This is a German Shepherd!” I shouted.

“Yeah yeah…. Paulo Coelho says all Shepherds are the same. So get him home. Let us have some fun,” Rekha said.

Before leaving I told Rekha that I shall be back in an hour with the German Shepherd. She looked excited and told me that she will prepare an extra room for him.

Guess, this was my hint – so she wanted a male dog.

I immediately went to a pet store and bought a male German Shepherd puppy. On the way I even decided to name him Paulo Coelho since my wife seemed to like the name so much.

I don’t know what hit me once I reached home. After 30 minutes of shouting at each other I learned a few things: That Paulo Coelho was a philosophical writer who wrote a book called Alchemist in which a shepherd goes around cities loving women. And that Rekha was excited to host him in our house, hoping it would bring back some love in her life.

Needless to say, I had to return the puppy and get my money back.

After this incident, I never brought forth the topic of pets. It has been five years since. Whenever tempted, I would just go to the Facebook Game Farmville and tend to my pet.

In the last few months the urge for pets has cropped up again, thanks primarily to our daughter Rhea. She loves animals and birds and fish – just like her dad.

So, two months back I asked Rekha: “How about a pair of rabbits for Rhea?”

“Alive?” Rekha inquired without looking up from the Adrian Mole series book she was reading.

“Yes alive. It will be a jail-within-a-jail experience for the rabbits….for we will get a cage as well.”

Guess, Rekha didn’t like my sarcasm, but she continued to be polite.

“Rajan, we live in Gurgaon….and we only have AC in our bedroom. How will the rabbits survive in this heat?”

“You don’t need to worry about that – they already have hare conditioning!” I tried to joke. We Rajans rely on our jokes to get things done. And more often than not it helps.

“OK fine…let us say we do get one. How long do they live – what if they die after a year? Wouldn’t Rhea be devastated?” Rekha was looking for reasons to not have rabbits in the house.

“But Rekha, we can always tell the pet shop owner that we don’t want rabbits with gray hare!”

Rekha wasn’t amused by this as well. After an hour long discussion, which also included Rekha throwing the Adrian Mole book at me, we agreed that we won’t get rabbits in the house.


About a week back, I saw that had a great deal – a pair of Australian Zebra Finch birds for just Rs 350. Without consulting Rekha, I bought them for Rhea. Once all three of us – me and the two birds – reached home, I was confronted.

I might as well have brought home a pretty secretary. The cold war took a few days to subside. It has been a week since and both my daughter and wife like the birds now.

Someday, I hope to have a German Shepherd as well in my house….but for that I need my daughter to grow up a little so that she can hold back my wife when she throws herself at me with a knife in her hand.

For now, you can check out my daughter’s reaction on seeing Australian Zebra Finch birds as her first pet.


The frog in my father in law’s house

There are eighteen types of people who shouldn`t be reading this article and one of them are: Those who get nightmares in which huge frogs with wet, spotted backs chase them down the street even as they slip on the road while running for safety. OK….enough of the disclaimer.

This article is about a frog that lived in my father in law`s house for three continuous days while we were visiting them for Vishu celebrations. He was my constant companion these three days. I meant the frog, not my father in law. This piece was written sitting in the verandah of my in-laws house. As of today, the house in question wears a desolate look, a stark reminder that it is people that make a home. My father in law passed away a few years back, and now my mother in law lives alone in this house.

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The Story

My wife and I were travelling to Kerala for Vishu. We boarded a Jet Airways flight at Mumbai and reached Calicut. We then took a three hours drive to Kannur in an old Ambassador to reach my father in law`s house.

Before you proceed any further you should go through the map of my father in law`s house.

Blueprint of father in laws house showing the frog
This pic is to give you a fair idea of how my in-laws house was designed and where exactly the frog in question was located.

Notice, that the frog lived in one of the bathrooms. Also, notice that there is a forest zone in my father in law`s house which makes life all the more difficult for a son in law whose only interaction with nature was watching ‘natural` Brooke Shields in the Hollywood movie titled Blue Lagoon many times over.

It all began when we reached ‘Kedaram’, my father in law`s brilliantly named house. Kedaram is a raga in music (or so I am told).

Since I am suffering from what in medical parlance is also known as the King`s Urinary Bladder Syndrome (OK, I made that one up!)….I had to pee like a race horse when we reached home. After dumping my bags on the verandah, I rushed in. My mother in law was blocking the way, ‘Where are you going she asked?”

“If I were going for a cup of tea, would I be so hurried?” I asked.


“How about coffee?”


After 24 such questions, my mother in law guessed that I had to use the loo. That`s when she turned towards my father in law and asked him: “Do you want to tell him now?”

This triggered a pensive look on my father in law`s face. And when that expression didn`t break after three mins, I broke it for him: “Do you mind? I have been holding back diluted urea for the last three hours. What is it guys?”

At this my mother in law intervened and broke the news: “There is a frog in your favourite bathroom!”

“So?” I was indignant. “I can always take a broom and push the guy out. Or maybe pour some water and slip him out of the washroom.”

It was my father who gave me the bad news: “Rajan, we have tried that many times over in the last six months. This guy doesn`t go.”

“What are you saying? Where in the washroom is he?”

“He lives in the water closet.” My mother in law added.

Just in case you were wondering, ‘water closet’ is the white contraption inside your washroom, which is also referred to as the pot, pot seat, throne etc.

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Ever since that fateful day when this frog dude flew in from the window and lodged himself (or herself – I am yet to see the frog`s gender) my in laws house I haven`t used my favourite washroom. Many attempts have been made to retrieve the lost land but to no gain. So much so, the territory occupied by the frog has been codenamed ‘Tiger Hills` so that it doesn`t understand my in law`s plans when they are discussed. Pity actually, for I found a major disconnect in the codename why name it after a hill, when the territory in question is a shallow spot?

For a casual reader, the answer to my predicament seems simple. “Use the other bathroom!” But the answer to this problem isn’t that simple. For the bathroom with the frog wasn’t always my favourite bathroom. It had become my favourite bathroom after a small snake had started living in the water closet of bathroom one.

Now you know why Kerala is God`s own country – because man and animal live as one.

Men and Women

Why every woman wants to be a bear in next life

In this life I’m a woman. In my next life, I’d like to come back as a bear. When you are a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you are supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.

When you are a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you are sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you are a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you are a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling and not glowing. He EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup… I am gonna be a bear.

Why bears are like women
Because both bears and women are almost always “bearly” dressed 😉

Note: I didn’t write this. Got this as a forward.