The one who has Nine Lives


I wish I were talking about me, but no! I would like to introduce you to my cat, who we call Maitri. Maitri, in Sanskrit, means “compassionate friend”, and one she is indeed. I realized, in the last few weeks, that I have failed to make mention of my sweet companion, my trust worthy friend in this city, the one who always has my back. So…… here is a special mention for Maitri (M) and her adjustment process in Mumbai (My guess is she is probably still adjusting like the both of us) .

We adopted Miss M in 2002 in San Francisco, when she was all of 6 months. She is now 9 years old and you wouldn’t really be able to tell that she is an old lady, or at least getting there.  What started out as a 3 week “foster” program ended up in an adoption, and now she is a very important member of the family. Of course, my husband would not agree and M does not hold that special a place in his heart as she does in mine.

In any case, M made this arduous trip with us from San Francisco to Mumbai. I knew she knew that something was up from the moment my husband and I decided to close shop in SF and move to India. She must have surely sniffed the stress, anxiety, the frustration, and the sleepless nights that my husband and I so often endured. In the last month, she was lethargic,  aloof, and disengaged from us both. In the last week, she was extremely down and I could tell that she was one unhappy cat. She saw her home disintegrate in front of her very own eyes, and I was the one breaking her wold apart. I knew that, and it broke my heart.

Forwarding to September 3rd, 2011, when the three of us boarded the flight from SF to Mumbai: M flew in-cabin with us on Lufthansa Airlines, which was accommodating and provided a smooth process for transporting our cat. We did not give her any sedatives or tranquilizers. All I did, a few days before our departure, was put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in her water. Through out the plane journey, she was, by the far, the best passenger on board. You would not have know that an unsedated cat was on board and was on a 25+ hour journey across the Atlantic. You would not have know at all! The poor creature did not make a single peep and went through and through several aircrafts, through security checks, through waiting in a couple of airports, and so on.  She was an angel and I am thankful that she was sooooo good about the whole journey. Of course, I have no doubts M hated me by the time she landed in Mumbai.

M’s first reaction to Mumbai and the new house was to hide under the bed for the first few weeks. It was unfortunate that we landed during Ganesh Chaturthi and she had endure the fire crackers and extremely loud processions. The new house, the regular noise pollution, the humid weather, the regular visits of the maid, and the chaos of everyday life in Mumbai was something M was completely unfamiliar with. But, with time, she has learned to acclimate to this new life, or perhaps in her world, to this new horror.

One of the things she still does is sleep under the bed. I think the noise and the extreme heat must still drive her crazy. She has started to come out from under the bed a little though, and now makes her self comfortable on the bed. Here is M, for your viewing pleasure:

M is also intrigued and fascinated by the number of crows and pigeons that parade themselves in front of the balcony almost everyday. She sits in the balcony most evenings and talks to the crows who taunt her with the fact that she can never get to them because of the aluminum grills that separate the two from attacking each other.

One more thing, M refuses to drink the boiled water that my husband and I have – she plain refuses it. And off late, I have started noticing that after we are done with our showers, M will sheepishly venture into the bathroom and drink the water off the bathroom floors. I will never know why she does this and i have now given up trying to give her boiled water or stop her from drinking from the toilet floor. I have now tried to make a compromise with M, and I think it is working: I have given her the  best of both worlds – the unboiled water and the bathroom ambiance by putting tap water  in a mug and placing it near the bathroom. Genius! Here is M who is working with this compromise and appears to be satisfied:

So for someone who drinks the (unhealthy) tap water of Mumbai, and seems to enjoy it, this cat sure does have 9 lives!

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