Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My family and other animals

(Warning - this post is full of typos...am typing at great speed, post work)!

As far as family is concerned, here in Delhi, it is just the in-laws and me (A is away in far away France). But we have plenty of animals to keep us company, none our though!

Foremost comes the monkeys. They come and go as they please and usually wreak havoc in our garden, breaking stuff, uprooting plants and plucking and throwing away half eaten guavas. Once they climbed over the neighbours newly painted grills and got paint all over their paws. They sat, started at their palms and tried to very human like, get rid of it by rubbing it on walls and tree barks but in vain. It remains, another, sign of the human encroachment into what was once, their domain. I used to watch their antics from the safety of our screen door. But now the novelty has worn off. Especially since their newest trick is to leave a bit of excreta in our backyard. This has upset f-i-l's afternoon snooze on the terrace. Face to face, these monkey are vicious. Our 65 year old neighbour Mr D, in bed with steel shafts to mend his broken leg, is witness to their calculated savagery.

Squirrels bound up and down the trees by the roadside and on to our terrace, busy in whatever that squirrels do...squirreling away something or the other in some nook or cranny and once, with disastrous consequence, inside our meter box which is fitted onto one of outer walls, in the garden. One hot summer night, at the end of a particularly taxing day, when the heat had all of us in frayed tempers, the power went off with a loud bang. Luckily for us, m-i-l had just stepped out of the bedroom where we couldn't hear a thing because of the hum of the air conditioner. We ran out and found the meter box in flames and neighbour crowded around it. The electricians were summoned (at exorbitant rates, it being past midnight), found a nest of squirrels inside the box, burnt to cinders. They had been squirreling away nesting tufts in anticipation of possible a baby?). Luckily for us, we found out in time. Otherwise we would have no escape route since the wall was next to the main gate which is also the only way out of the house. The squirrels had apparently learnt to open the meter box with their tiny paws. We have, since then, put a squirrel proof lock on the box.

A is petrified of cats, having been attacked by a cornered cat in his childhood. He usually keeps away from neighbourhood cats who pick and choose various houses, lawns, cars for reposing at various times of the day and year. One cat has chosen our home to have her litter - 2 adorable balls of fluff. She gets them to the security of our enclosed backyard for the night. Often we hear pitiful mewing of a kitten stranded half way up a treeor a parapet when ma arrives and leads it down with a firm shove by its nose.

I get up very early to get ready for office when it is still dark. I open the door and find (A, beware), the curious kittens sitting poised outside the screen door, head at an angle watching me moving around inside! They are so adorable, especially when they chase their little tails but mama is so protective. She bares her fangs (or canines?) and sets up such a hissing if I so much a turn to look at her little ones.

A wont be thrilled to read this but we are hoping to put the cat family to good use. Of late, m-i-l's tiny lawn is being dug up nightly by large sewer rats - bandicoots. Where do they come from? Why do they dig up the lawn is such a mystery to us. M-i-l asked a gardener for help. He sent one of his minions to clear up and block any entry points and spray the lawn liberally with gamaxene powder. Add to it the fact that we found the kittens playing with a large dead rat had us all complacent that we had tackled the rat problem! Alas, no. Next morning, the lawn was as dug up as ever, the rats clevery digging up the non-gamaxened patches so that it was a merry check board of holes and white powder. These rats are obviously too large even for the mama cat, since the holes continue to merrily appear.

Then there are the indoor pets - the cockroaches, who are a bit subdued thanks to the magic chalk marker. One has to just run this chalk across counters and other places and viola! Every morning, I walk into the kitchen and dead cockroaches crunch underfoot. Yukh..but its a solution. Lizards are in hibernation, I guess.

Neighbourhood dogs choose the front of our gate for their nature's call.
There are little sparrows and finches twittering about in among the tress at home, too clever to be caught by the ever patient cat and its frisky kittens. The ugly pi-dog has given birth to the most adorable set of pups and she has chosen the dry partially covered drain just outside our gate to keep them in. She takes them out one by one occasionally and during feed times and then she puts them back! All in all, very animal friendly, we.

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