Just some food, painting and Junior

Jain festival Prayushan was going on. It’s for 8 days where Jains do not eat any greens or vegetables which are grown underground. Some even fast for all 8 days having only boiled water. Yesterday was the last day and today we broke our fast with Mumbai special Vada Pav.
Made Jain Paneer Sabzi. Gravy is made from Tomatoes and dried masala.
Another Jain Paneer Sabzi made from Tomatoes and Milk
Jain Jeera Pulao
My lunch plate before Paryushan started. It has Bhindi Sabji, Cabbage Sabji, Kadhi, Roti, Papad, Kaju Katli and Kheer.
Just painted my every morning
He doesn’t look pleased after being groomed 😂
He will stare at me like this till I feed him even though it’s not his feeding time 🤣

I love my dog so much it hurts

If you have a dog, you will understand by the title of where this post is going to lead. And chances are, like me even you would literally do anything for your dog. Being a pet parent is not all glorious, between picking up their poops, to fur all over our clothes, and planning our entire lives around their bathroom and meal schedules – there’s still a powerful and extremely tangible bond that exists between a human and a dog.

As a mother to two beautiful Labradors – Casper and Junior, it gets so overwhelming sometimes with the thought of living without them and it hurts. It hurts so bad, that I can literally feel physical pain from my thoughts.

Casper first crawled into my heart 12 years ago and made it his home for five and half years. Too young to go, but the tragic event of him passing has left a lifelong trauma on me, and the void cannot be filled no matter how much I try. Casper was a very handsome and smart dog. I would always joke around that he is a human in a dog’s body. He was extremely protective about me and would get jealous if I ever patted or played with another dog. He always looked healthy. Never once he had a dry nose or was lethargic or lost sudden weight is which we consider the signs of a sick dog (besides when he got tick fever).

Casper has travelled a lot with me. He was a well trained, calm and mannered dog. It was easy for me to take him around people and other dogs. He never left any chance to show his unconditional love for me. That’s why, when he crossed the rainbow bridge, I slipped into depression. His going was sudden and left me with a permanent scar on my heart. My fondest memory with him was when I was at my lowest and crying, and was even considering suicide; he jumped on me and started licking my tears. He saved my life, but I couldn’t save his life.

On the other hand, Junior was that rascal puppy who didn’t understand the concept of peace. He would always irritate Casper and there was not even one day where I didn’t come to a messy house. Always up to some naughty moves. It’s moments like these that sink into your heart, memory and build towards the ball of satisfaction and love that you hold for your pet. These memories and moments make your dog something more than just a pet.

Now that Junior is nine and half years old and started showing signs of aging, I fear about his health all the time (he is absolutely healthy at the moment). I love him so much that it hurts. You see, Junior is just not a pet dog, but my family. As pet parents, we understand this incredible bond that exists between human and dog. We just get it. Our pets are our lives.

It’s just not expressing feelings of love or considering your fur babies as family and developing a strong bond, it’s even backed by science. There have been many studies that explain why our warm fuzzy friends give us such warm fuzzy feelings, including a more well-known study by animal behaviorist Takefumi Kikusui. He found that level of oxytocin, the feel-good chemical, and bonding rise by merely looking into our dog’s googley eyes.

As a living and breathing example of all the above, I can tell you why it hurts so much let a dog go. Whether you have to put them to sleep, or they go naturally, either way, it hurts. Being a dog parent is one of the greatest joys of life. Dogs just don’t give us unconditional love, but they also help us humans live longer. We stay fit because of them; we never have a dull day. And even if we have one, they are always there to uplift us. They greet us every day when we come home as if they have been waiting for us for a lifetime.

What else do we want! In today’s world, where one human is ready to flip on another without giving it a second thought, there are dogs who only know love and loyalty. Dogs lives are too short, that’s their only fault; and it hurts too much.

In a relationship with Food

Homemade Pav Bhaji. Healthy and delicious
Locha Naan. This Naan is filled with Cheese, Onions and Garlic
Paneer Dum Biryani
Usal Misal. Filled with Proteins
This is how you eat Usal Misal
My lunch plate – Roti, Dal, Aloo Bhindi Sabji, Mixed Vegetables Sabji, Pulses Salad and Cooked Green Chillies
Pesto Pizza with Ginger Ale
Berberi, Shero and Injera. A wholesale and authentic Ethiopian Dinner
This is my Peace and Happiness. When I paint 🎨
Bathing time is torture 🤣
Post taking a shower 😍

Oh No! My Dog Is A Fussy Eater.

I believe many of us have faced this problem in our lives. Sometimes, our dogs are just not interested in what’s in their bowls. I have faced this issue too. Not with Junior, but with Casper. Casper had turned his nose up at his own food, but was always interested in what I was eating. This meant that he wasn’t ill, but had become a picky eater.

Let me tell you how it started and the ways I bid to make him start eating his own food without him throwing a tantrum.

Just like any other Labrador, Casper was a big time foodie. He would eat anything and everything that I would put in his bowl, along with some veggies that I gave him as snacks. He always maintained an ideal weight and was a very active dog. Unfortunately, he fell ill and was diagnosed with Tick Fever where his survival was nearly impossible. But, by the grace of God and expertise of the Vet, Casper not only lived, he thrived. Obviously it wasn’t easy. After some months of his treatment, and when Casper was absolutely normal and healthy, I noticed that he had started withdrawing from his food. Eventually, he stopped eating his kibble completely.

I was scared, because I thought he was relapsing. I spoke to the Vet and briefed him about Casper’s behavior. That’s when I came to know that Casper had turned into a fussy eater. Since this is not a medical problem or an illness, there is no medicine also to it. So I had to find a different way to make him start eating his own food. In the meantime, Casper happily ate Curd Rice and Vegetables. But that was not enough as he was not getting all his nutrients and vitamins which he would get from kibble. Being a vegetarian myself, I was hesitant to introduce him to meats and fish, even eggs. I would have done that eventually, had Casper not started eating the dog food. But that was Plan B. I was reflecting on a way to make Plan A work, i.e. make him eat his kibble happily.

Dogs are not picky. It’s an acquired trait. My biggest challenge was to find the core of his new behavior. Which I found! He had become finicky about his food because when he was recovering from Tick Fever, I had fed him chicken soups, eggs, curd, sugarcane juice, etc. Basically, he was off dog food for some time and he was relishing on the other stuff. Now, you must be thinking why sugarcane juice. It has so much sugar and sugar is poison for dogs. In India, if anyone has jaundice, we give them a lot of sugarcane juice. According to traditional Ayurveda, sugarcane juice is a boon to strengthen your liver and a proven remedy for jaundice. The antioxidants in sugarcane juice protect the liver against infection and maintain the bilirubin levels in control.

Alright, since I was aware of Casper’s core issue, my next step was to slowly make him like his kibble. Please remember, it’s not magic. It took time for him to get back to his schedule. So be consistent and patient. Do not scold your dog or scream at them. There will be a time of frustration, but that won’t solve anything.

I bought home a few samples of dog food from the vet and introduced them one by one to Casper. Some of them Casper sniffed and left, and some Casper ate a bite or two and left. So I discarded the ones which didn’t eat and narrowed down to one food brand which Casper ate the most. Now I had to work around only one food brand.

My next step was to make Casper eat more and more of it daily. I knew he wouldn’t start eating it at once, so I activated a little of my acting skills to make him eat atleast a handful of it. At the same time, I also reduced his intake of Curd Rice and Veggies. There were times when Casper skipped him meals completely. That’s ok for a dog skip a meal or two, since he didn’t have any medical issues at that time.

I stopped filling Casper’s bowl in front of him. I never hand-fed him or even bribed him. I would keep his food and if he didn’t eat till half n hour, I would take it and discard it. I would go in the kitchen, fill his bowl and then bring it outside to his eating place, so that he is not pre annoyed by the smell of the food and he gets to smell it only at the time of eating. Most of the times, he would eat a little and then leave it. So as I said I activated my acting skills, I would tell him that I am going out and start walking towards the door. Casper would immediately go to his bowl and complete his food. Different techniques work for different dogs. Since Casper always wanted me around, he ate his food thinking I would leave. But I couldn’t do this forever, right!

Then, I bought wet food of the same brand and started mixing it little with his dry food. That’s when I had to stop acting and Casper started finishing his bowl on his own. And eventually, after reducing the wet food gradually, one day came, when Casper for the first time in weeks ate his dry food completely on his own. And, that was the first time I rewarded him for completing his meal on his own. But always keep a check on them, as they may tend to get back to being picky again.

In all this process, under no circumstances fall weak and give them anything that they want like human food or table scraps. This will delay their process of getting back on schedule. Also, there can be various reasons why dogs suddenly become picky. They could be ill, or have some kind of anxiety, or maybe in pain, etc. So, rule out the medical causes first. There are also myths that fussy eaters cannot be fixed or changing the food often leads to fussy eating or they get bored of kibble after some times. These are nothing but MYTHS.

Like all responsible parents, we want our pets the always remain healthy and safe. And anything can be achieved with consistency, patience and lots of love.

I live to eat, not eat to live 😜

Domino’s Style Cheese Garlic Bread. Baked with love 😍
Gujarat special Oondhoyu, Chole, Cabbage Paratha, Hummus and Curd. A wholesome lunch.
Kadai Paneer. Spicy and delicious.
Kadai Paneer, Methi Pakoras, Paratha and Sticky Rice. Another full fledge meal.
Mushrooms, Broccoli and Garlic Bread. Finger licking 😋
Painted something out of the box and enjoyable. 🎨
Will you give me a snack?
Will you please give me a snack?
God dammit! Give me a snack!!!

You are a whole lot of lovely!

It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to settling with anything just to say they have someone. Several women, at times, force themselves into romance, only because they are apprehensive of being single forever. The end result is usually misery, as in the process they start making compromises, and invariable end up losing their identity. The truth is, a woman who is unapologetically herself, comfortable in her perfect imperfection, doesn’t play the victim, never afraid to be on her own, vibrant and goal-oriented is so much more attractive, than a woman who waits around for a man to validate her existence!

Being in my late 30’s, its natural for my family and friends to be concerned about me being single – to the extent few consider it to be a taboo! I am accustomed to be at the receiving end of various advices; “your biological clock is ticking” / “life cannot be spent alone” / “right now you will still get a guy, later it will be too late”, and, as ridiculous as some of these reasons are; believe me the list is endless. While it is extremely easy to advice, what people, who I know only mean good, fail to understand is as we age, it gets more and more difficult for us to find the ‘right one’. It’s not the age which does that, for age is just a number. What happens is with age we mature, we learn to understand what truly makes us happy, and we are less susceptible to just settle for someone who really doesn’t understand or care for us.  With the booming trend of social media, it is not difficult to find someone. But the question is; how genuine are they? And even if they are genuine, how compatible are we?

Personally, I have never been the one who would do a random hook-up, or anything even remotely similar to it. With age, and of course my past experiences, I have become so scared to get my heart broken again that I fortified myself with a wall of scepticism.  It has become extremely difficult for me to immediately trust someone. It’s not that that I do not want to date or eventually get married, but I do not want to be the only one falling in love. I want to be loved equally as well, and I strongly believe this isn’t much to ask! The problem is you will come across people who will express their love, but it is fairly impossible to immediately judge who actually loves you, and who is pretending to do so. Most men I have spoken to, choose to conveniently assume I am available and desperate immediately upon learning that I am separated and live alone. To be brutally honest, I have learnt that only 3 types of men approach me, and this is the harsh reality of today’s world:

  1. Type 1: The married ones, who generally just are looking for a little extra spice
  2. Type 2: The confused souls who say they care, but honestly only want a physical relationship with pretty much No Strings Attached
  3. Type 3: The truly genuine ones who end up being some of the best friends I have made. But believe me, these are the rarest of the rare ones and extremely hard to find

After Casper crossed the rainbow bridge, my husband told me that very same day that he wanted to rework the marriage. I was content, but it was only an eyewash. Apparently, my husband had approached the divorce lawyer the very same evening. I was shocked, deceived, and realized it was better to end this legally once and for all. It made no sense to keep watering a dead plant, and more than a dead relation it was the trust which was totally shattered.  I gathered myself together post getting off the depression medicines, and got back on routine and finally became open to dating. But it wasn’t easy at all. The dating scenarios had completely changed. There were so many new words and actions that I had never experienced in the past or even heard of, like ghosting, gas lighting, rebounding, etc. Unfortunately, I experienced all these the hard way when I finally had prepared myself to give love another chance. I had met a guy in my worst phase and told him everything about my past and he shared his. In spite of him being a dog lover, I thought he would understand of what I went through when Caspu passed. We never really dated but had become pretty close, and I had started thinking about him a lot more than I had planned to. Just 20 days after meeting him, I was ghosted. Yes, that’s when I learnt this word. And after some months I realised I would have just been a rebound to him. His ex came back in his life and he forgot me just at the drop of a hat like I was just someone to divert his mind off a break up he had recently had when we met. Ironically, that’s when I learnt the second trending word “rebound”. It was so hard for me to believe that when you share your personal life with someone and they promise to hold your hand through thick and thin, but end up being the same person they claim to never have been. I was extremely heartbroken. But once again, my baby, my dog, my Junior came to my rescue and never let me sink in. I realized I was actually stronger than before. I chose to give a piece of my mind to that guy, blocked him and never looked back. The following year, as I continued with my work and actually experimented with social media, I came across a lot of people. And as mentioned before, some became my very good friends, and other; I realised their intentions way too early and didn’t even bother entertaining them.

Life went on, and without me even realising, I kept getting mentally stronger, and being alone with Junior had just become the best way to live. I was so much happier, and, so was Junior. We enjoyed our time playing and dancing for no reason. If nothing, then I would take Junior out for a drive. Some of the best moments of my life are spent alone with Junior, and definitely, they are precious. Apart from that, my cousins and friends also made sure that I was not left alone. I started travelling, having so many girls’ trips, also my Mom and me travelled overseas just for shopping, family trips; all in all – life was beautiful!  

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a guy. As they say, you meet the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time. It was a long distance relationship. But this time, I didn’t give my heart away immediately. I took my time and being long distance, after months, we met in person. It is amazing how different a person can be over phones and in person. After a while, I started to sense that we were not for each other.  I began to curse myself for a very brief period that none of my relationships are working out, and, probably, I am the toxic one, or I have some problem in me. Self-doubt can be a troubling and persuasive voice that holds you back. My thoughts literally made me beg this guy to stay with me, which he did too, but his behaviour towards me changed dramatically. He took me for granted thinking that I begged him to stay, so I will never leave him. He chose to call or text me at his convenience only, not reply to my texts for days, not tell me about his whereabouts and literally made me an object of convenience. I hoped and thought he would change for good but things only got worse. Finally, I opened my eyes, kept my heart aside, and called it off.

You have what it takes, don’t ever doubt yourself. Whenever you feel weak, remember the things that made you strong. Whenever you start to doubt yourself, remember those who believe in you. And remember this, when you start to doubt yourself, the real world will eat you alive. Victor E. Frankl (Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor,) has said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Once again, living alone, failed relationships, a lot of baggage, a fur baby who is no more; but here I am. Still cheerful and hopeful. I still believe in love. I have not given up on meeting the right one for me. Even in this world of divorces and breakups and hook ups, I believe somewhere the one meant for me will find me in the right time. Remember this, it is better to wait long than to marry wrong. Learn to be whole all by yourself. Be kind enough to let someone in, but wise enough to even let them go. Not everyone who enters your life is meant to stay. And it is ok! Learn from it, and move on.

Till then, Junior and I are living it playfully in this lockdown. He is a kitchen king (hahahaha). He is always in the kitchen when I am cooking keeping his hopes high that anytime some food might fall on the floor from the platform and he will eat it. Regarding his skin infection, he is doing absolutely great. The Saffron Oil did wonders and he is off antibiotics now. Apart from this, a very good friend of mine had to put his senior dog down due to complications from old age. It caused overwhelming distress to him to take this call and implement his decision, but that was the right thing to do. Seeing him like this is very upsetting. No matter how much time we get with our fur babies, it is never enough. Whether they lived for 5 years or 10 years or 15 years with us, their passing always takes away a part of us with them. It is never easy!