Fostering – A light at the end of the Tunnel

“It was dark and cold and it just did not seem right. The place was unknown and all the new smells distracted me. But I somehow did not experience excitement and my whole body was shaking with fear.

I never knew fear all these days when I was under a roof with my humans around me. But, I cannot see them here anymore. Where am I and how did I get here?

All I can remember is two strange men, walking up to me. I was so scared that I did not even want to get close to them. But they grabbed me and put me in a box with wire frames and drove me to another new place. New smells again and this time I heard so many others like me screaming for help.

I did have some humans inspecting right after then, but I was so confused amidst all the chaos, that I did not know how well I should have behaved. They took a picture of me and I could sense that this time, it was not a happy one. I now had a number and no name. I wish I could tell them what my real name was, but they wouldn’t understand. So I let the number be my new name for the time being.

I was now put in a bigger room with broader metal frames and with some company, but I still could not stop shaking with fear. I had forgotten all my manners and all I wanted was to see were my parents- my humans.  I felt lost in a dark long tunnel and hope was all that I could cling on too.”

Every day, hundreds of homeless pets and those who are no longer viable to the breeding industry are brought into the shelter from the most unimaginable and dreadful corners of the city. Not only is this a nightmare for the innocent dogs and cats to whom, we mean the world but also to those who rescue them challenging their own ability, if they can help transform yet another ‘let down’ innocent life. The shelters are always over flooded and there can never be enough space to accommodate constant incoming members.

Endless days and nights together, are put into work by dedicated rescue groups trying to tag those sadly abandoned four legged friends, just to give them a second deserving chance to live their life. This is when an enormous role of fosters, ready to volunteer with all their patience, dedication and love are pledged to pitch in.

One may think the shelters are the safest place for the shunned pets, but sadly this isn’t true. The safest place for a pet is always with their human parents and nowhere else.

When an individual volunteers to foster a dog in need, from that very moment they become the ray of hope for the ‘one’ who is lost in the dark tunnel.

So one may ask, “What is Fostering?”

Fostering, like any other rescue, is a selfless dedicated service towards a homeless pet. It is a brave and a life changing step that a pet lover can take to transform the soul of an abused and abandoned animal, helping them to reaffirm their faith on mankind. When you choose to foster, you allow the rescued dog to decompress itself and let them process their harsh reality of being dumped by the ones who means the word to them. A foster plays an integral role in rehabilitating a confused and depressed dog or a cat with patience, affection and persistent routine.

Who and how can I Foster?

There are several rescues groups floating in every city who are frantically looking for dedicated fosters to volunteer with them. Sadly, there are not as many fosters available to lend their time and home to a dog or cat in contrast to the huge number of them, who are being given up at the shelters. Anyone who can devote their heart to this service, can foster. In fact, the more the number of people coming forward to foster, directly means the more number of dogs that can be pulled out of the shelter by several rescue groups and be prepared for a forever loving home. A foster not only gives the dog a second chance but also helps a family find their perfect companion.

What does it cost you?

A foster is only expected to take care of clean food and water for the rescued pet. The time, effort and the affection that a foster can provide is needless to say, priceless. All the other medical expenses like vaccinations, antibiotics, spay or neutering are taken care by the rescue groups who work hard to raise donations through minimal adoption fees and fundraisers.

Isn’t saying goodbye painful?

It sure is. The minute one decides to foster a needy soul, they can recognize themselves as one who is much more than just being a pet lover. From the very first day that a foster starts working with a rescue dog, he or she not only helps to decompress them from their current situation but also becomes that very special person who restores their faith in humans, once again.

 It is most definitely an evolving process for both individuals on either side of the leash, one who saves and the other who has been saved. But when it comes to looking at the bigger picture, one does eventually realise that it is just the beginning and so many more stories await to be discovered at their door step.

What does one receive by Fostering?

Well, the fact is there is no monetary benefit involved in fostering as one may think or assume. It is purely an act of kindness for another fellow being and the only and most gratifying reward is when you see your foster recover and come out their old tainted shell, transformed into one love bug and plenty of applications pour in from homes that have long waited for their companion.

It sounds rewarding in its own different way. Isn’t it? If have you have ever thought of fostering a rescued dog, to give them another chance to a beautiful life, maybe this is the time. After all it is never too late to offer some love and care in a world that needs it most, like never before.

Fostering an abandoned dog just happened as a chance to me. I never knew what it meant in the truest sense, unless I started doing it and since then it has been 2 years and 10 dogs now and I haven’t regretted this step that I took in my life.

It is certainly one step ahead of just being a dog lover and the reward to witness the transition of an abandoned and cheated soul to one that can have his/her faith restored in mankind is nothing less than priceless.  It’s much like the belief of “An act of Kindness, One at a Time.”

Ever since then, I have been asked, acknowledge and even mocked at, for bringing in dogs home, working with them and getting them adopted to the most ideal forever homes and it takes a lot of immunity for me to remain unaffected. 😀  and inspired me to collect and put down all my reasons and thoughts through this blog. ♥

 

Photo credit: Christoph Peich

If Only

There was a time, like the ‘once upon a time’ thing, that all the posts on Facebook defining veganism would make less sense to me. I did understand that it was about standing up for the right of animals other than we humans, but its deeper implications in terms of travelling an enlightened route of compassion through food and lifestyle, hadn’t been that clear to me.

I did always adore watching birds and animals since the childhood days that I recollect and from stories that my family spoke of. However, insects and reptiles are ever still creepy to me but I am certainly neutral to them not having the first instinct to harm them at mere sight.

So, in continuation to the introduction and my almost enlightened phase, it has been almost 2 years for me refraining and then quitting dairy and a successful completion of around 8-9 months in addition,  absorbing into the whole peaceful concept of being vegan in terms of diet as well as initiated cruelty-free lifestyle. My spirits have been so pepped up that I even managed to pull my omnivore husband into convincing that this change is for the good of all of us.Not that I blindfolded and kidnapped him into believing in it, since thankfully he is an open mined and liberal man and I vouch to admire his general reasoning abilities.

Turning Vegan, on a serious note wasn’t easy. All the Facebook , Twitter and Instagram posts mocking vegan feelings, addressing humanity at all levels and the million dollar questions about “Where the hell will you get your protein from?”, all started making sense just one fine day.Well, and if you are an Indian & specially a Bengali like me, God has to come down to help you. You have seemed to have broken the rich tradition of eating fish which is supposedly “your” cultural trademark and you out of the blue, have become the revolutionary to conquer the family’s food system. Also when apparently, more than 3 dishes are regularly cooked (including vegetables) and served on a daily basis, it is because of you that the kitchen fails to provide options and there is a complete Food Panic Attack ceremony that blows its siren off. Weird and funny at the same time. 😀

I won’t deny, but at times I find this observed ordeal fun to watch not because I am mean but because my very own folks cannot see things that are right in front of them.

I have been questioned at almost every gathering so far, like a celebrity (Yay!) as to what meals I cook, do I not eat my fellow beings because I worship the God or is it because I am trying to save money?  And is my husband “who has no choice” has to stay hungry to deal with my crazy food choices and order food from outside? I am not even wandering around the ‘Protein’ quiz contests and having “nothing to order at the restaurant ” or “starving while on road trip” theories. I guess I am not the only ‘to-be-vegan’/’vegan’ who is bombarded with these trademarked inquisitive questions.

I’d be honest. When on one hand I am enthused explaining to my friends, the ethical and health reasons behind my choices, I do get most occasionally raged when being mocked is the promptest reply but gulp it down like a bitter pill. But as time has evolved around me, I feel the need to be angry or disturbed way lesser than before. Instead I begin to modestly patronize my fancy for baking vegan  cakes that are so less in  “calories” and in “cruelty” than otherwise. Atleast, “calories ” seem to make more sense to people today than “cruelty” does. It’s strange but is bitterly true.

witch-character-design_1196-50Off late, my spouse and I have also recognized  myself being influenced by the character of the witch who lures people into her house and feeds them with magical and intoxicated food, just that mine are vegan and definitely toxic free. 😀 Somewhat like an advertisement that yells out and says, ” I do eat good food and so does my family and there is really nothing that I am missing out here in my life.” And the moment the question pops up, “really, is this vegan? It doesn’t taste bad at all.” is perfectly a victorious moment for me and my now partly converted omnivore spouse. 😀

With all this and more, at the end of the day and after so many prolonged & futile discussions, it is hard to believe that we take pride to live in a world surrounded by rich, educated and doctorate folks when the wise ones are yet so rare to find. We believe in accepting those who have mindsets similar to theirs and not the one, that dares to be different even if the changing world believes it to be the right step taken. Today, there is a whole bunch of criteria we need to tick, in order to submit ourselves as “fit” to be part of a crowd and individuality is apparently just about being privileged.

thTravelling through stereotypes of judgement on the basis of gender, race, beliefs & culture, ethical choices are now, the most phenomenal addition to the list.

 

And in the hours that I spend by myself, petting my dog (currently the ones I foster), the eyes that look right back into mine, her cushioned paws that raise to give me a shake and that wagging tail and squeaky tone when she finally sees me after a long day, is so profound and hard to ignore. All it does to me is make me feel more and more connected to life in varied forms. Never ever in my slightest conscience can I even dream her or my other non human or human companions as being  treated so wrongly for the taste of my palate or pleasure.  Each of them have such amazing individual personalities and yet it is sad that most of us fail to acknowledge their existence over ours.

Do I have something different in me? Absolutely not. We all as human beings have been gifted with such immense qualities guided by compassion, strength and morality that if put in the right place, coexistence would never have had to be such a huge deal.

 

If only we could open our eyes once and listen to what our heart chooses over what our tastes and false luxuries desire, ‘peace’ would be a normalcy and not a luxury. If only, it was not for mankind, who is so adamant and blinded by greed that we force the innocent fellow dwellers run through the stairs of painful hell each day, there would have been more roses in the garden than blood that drains into the rivers each day. If only, we had more giving hands than those that take away, there would have been a little less tear each day that dried away into a silent sleep.

If Only… I Wish.♥

Pic Source: Unsplash

United & Divided

With so much happening around lately or rather more of the things that happen to come to surface over the recent times, I unwillingly feel, how strangely we are more united and divided in ways, now than ever. It is not that I wish to nag or complain when so much negativity surrounds us on a day to day basis, but it is the constant fight with oneself and the over pouring of information around us, that it is indeed a challenge to keep my mind in a stage of sanity.

In a phase, that I believed to have progressed from the life of the caves and striking pebbles to light a flare, we have simply transitioned to one that is clouded by nothing but damaging self created illusions.

Today we live in high rising & sky-kissing buildings like never before, transitioned from bullock carts to battery driven fuel efficient cars and eat a meal that is more of a luxury than a necessity. Thanks to the hard-work and sweat of our previous generations that we belong to this privileged race where we can earn a hefty paycheck while warming up our chairs all day long, while some rise and melt down along with the Sun.

It is hard to ignore the fact that in someway or the other we all depend upon each other in our life-cycle and along the chains of demand and supply. It is this beauty of interdependence that we all unknowingly participate in , that leads us to either step onto or climb the ladder of livelihood and co-existence.

Yet, how good are we in acknowledging this unseen thread that binds all of us together in some way or the other?

We are living in a time today,that is witnessing the biggest holocaust ever in terms of both human and animal slavery, for the sake of some pleasure that my simple or half-witted mind cannot process through, especially when I see commoners such as me pride over it. “Speciesism”, is thus the new hyped word, coined to honor this mindset of Human prejudice where we humans believe to have moral rights so high so as to overlook the pain and suffering of non-human animals, and treat them in ways that slavery would need a new definition for itself.

It also amuses me, when I look around and see the arrogance, alter in the eyes of a human being  for another person against his or her complexion, against a particular religion or faith, for the LGBT community or even if it is a regular gender favoritism. If there is anything at all, the ‘world’ has always and would still choose to believe, is to look up-to a ‘MAN’irrespective of his credentials.  For me, as a woman it is sadly bleak to imagine the day when that pedestal will be equally shared by a ‘WOMAN’ in the very same regard, needless to say that this charity awaits to begins at home.

On the very other hand, there is an uprising strength of people from within us, who are trying tirelessly day in and day out to make the world a more humane place for a better tomorrow. It is historic for a an era like now, how environmentalists, protectors of animal and human rights have a struck a revolution for a better and much needed change.

People selflessly working at the animal shelters where hundreds of pets are dumped in or traded once the momentarily pleasure period is over, those of who among us are working in the war zones to protect and support the lives of the victims and so many more, who can selflessly open their hearts for a wounded soul, are typically the ones who reaffirm my faith in Humanity. It certainly must not be easy to constantly stand up against what is ethically unfair but it this capacity to empathize, that is certainly one of the supreme qualities that natures has bestowed upon us and had we known of it’s uninterrupted supply, I guess we would have never chosen to be otherwise.

So, after all the Moon and Mars landing expeditions, technological advancements, culinary achievements and the daily dose of luxury that we relish so casually, is everything so worthwhile when we are so much at a conflict with our very own selves and our fellow beings, humans and non-humans alike? What is the point of an extravagant degree when our very basic morals are at stake? And what is the tiniest drop of our contribution to create that ripple of change that the oceans await?

This world today, from my eyes, seems to be divided and united in halves. One that is hell-bent on destruction blinded by prejudicial illusions and the other half who is equally determined in bringing together the scattered pieces of  broken mankind, to shape a worthier tomorrow.

And in the end, all that my simple mindset can understand and observe is the reality that we as humans, have tremendous capacities to both unite and to destroy and by just choosing the right direction of will, we can be the creation we were meant to be.

 

 

Pic Courtesy for Feature image

Memories By the Window

childhood memories

It is typically strange how the mind works. It works in ways that we, ourselves are unaware of and yet we come to believe that everything is in our absolute control. Experiences of the past, that once seemed nothing but an unending trail of hurdles and some selective cherished moments, matures to become a lesson that if reflected upon, can surpass the depths of our own comprehensible imaginations. It amuses me every time, how the life we lead, revolves around us and comes to a point where it all started, leading us to the ‘Bigger Picture’.

The first few minutes of my recent usual mornings in my new apartment are dedicated to my patio. I simply love being there first thing in the morning. Though the view is more or less the same, I still enjoy being in the moment where the Sun has risen and yet not harsh, the mild breeze that sways the colorful and delicate flowers in my little patio, the wind-chimes that bang against each other and create their hollow symphony, neighbors walking their dogs and those who are out for their morning stroll, all together in a composition, comforts me about the continuity of life.

And to remember this, it all began, when I as a young girl  and my mother used to stand at our window each morning, after she woke me up from my bed. I was her and now she is my, best friend ever since then. We used to stand together, feeling the cool morning breeze and the peace of simplicity that mornings alone can offer. With smudgy and sleepy eyes, I used to wrap my arms around her waist and watch all that she used to show me. Particularly, the birds were and are still are, our favorites.

The chirping sparrows and the crows that sat on the boundary wall of our backyard were described as having an interchange of thoughts and plans for the day and that was a lot of chit-chat. Among these, were  flocks of pigeons who collectively flew from one roof to another and sometimes even took two laps before they settled on a particular roof of our neighboring house. “Do you see how they too go for a morning walk like us? They begin their days just like ours and so cheerfully, everyday without any fail.” said my mother.  And this is how an average day would begin for me- by the window side and along with the continuity of life.

Back in those days, when life was just about living and doing the little things right and was no more attractive than my house, my school and the playground, my world was what I wove in my thoughts and they were certainly beautiful and deeply innocent in comparison to the chaos that runs in it now.                                                                                                                                    The first 10 minutes at the window, tucking my head against my mother’s soft cotton saree and her supple belly was the comfort that I grew up with and along with it, that came along was a blessing of admiration for all living forms – be it a flower blossom, a chirping happy bird, ecstatic baby lambs jumping on the winter fields or calm cows that slowly grazed the green meadows until the cattle owners came declaring their time-out. And  on those fondly memorable days when it rained, those 10 minutes would ripen to a delightful poetry.

Today after all these 25 years, and all the uncountable miles away from my mother and my home in India, little seems to have changed. I now wake up by the alarm, snoozing it several times until it gets unbearably annoying and when I hear a bird’s chirp, I recall the days when my mother used to wake me up saying, “Get up. See that little bird outside the window is calling you.”                                                                                                                                                                 I then rub my foggy eyes, splash some water and go out to the patio to cherish this  very continuity of life, just that now, I crave for the company that made me saw the mornings in the way I still do. I watch the little birds chirp on the hi-tension wires and the ones hiding in the green bushy trees, the pigeons in grey and white flocking from one roof to another completing their morning rounds giving me a feel of the many things that still hasn’t changed and yet things somehow aren’t exactly how they used to be.

May be today after so many years, I can credit those special 10 minutes of my childhood mornings, to the surge I feel  when I now look into the eyes of another sentient living being, streaming the ground or the sky,still touched with a delightful amusement. An amusement that make me appreciate my existence and not forcibly win over it just because I belong to ‘mankind’. There is an inexplicable chord of connection that wants more of me to love it than to ignore it or dread it. A reflex and excitation of the connection of life; of the same ways we all are meant to be;  an understanding of the absolute needs to eat, sleep, love and play just as much we relate ourselves to, is clearly the same for every living creature in their own unique ways, thriving with us on this shared piece of land.                      

Then why has this world that I see, changed so much today or has it always been like this? Is it because, it was just a window and now by the patio, I have a wider vision of the reality we breathe in, where no happy lambs jump over the open fields, the calm and lazy cows grazing the meadows have a number tag punched in their ears unaware of their gory future, the birds flying in the sky are scarce and the roosters and the hens have lost their authority of the small roofs and the pecking grounds, just to land in the dark enclosures devoting their entire lives to our futile appetite, baseless religious and so-called cultural traditions?

This whole ordeal of accepting, what I learnt with and from my mother, by that Window and what I now see standing in my Patio, distresses me. Or may be, distress could be an understatement because what even comes back as a defensive answer, subject to an ignored mind and uncontrollable human greed, infuriates me with loss of sugar in my capacity, to coat my words.

And so today after these 25 years, life has yet again revolved and here I am with a picture clipping extracted  from the movie of my memories,  where I stand missing the warmth of my mother’s embrace and the amusement and delight the window exhibited only to know that the grass across my patio now is not even remotely close to what I pictured  it to be like.

However, now I also do feel blessed to have known those exclusive 10 minutes, that my mother spent with me every morning and all the amusements she made my little heart wonder. Had it not been for her, I would have missed out on a perception, making me repent in the journey of being a better person as a whole.

Thank you Mom!

With Love.

Pic Courtesy: Kari Shea and Somin Khanna

Forbidden

Good food is delight and good dessert is a bliss!

I had come across this picture sometime ago and the resemblance of it with me was so strong that I couldn’t help saving it on my desktop. What an untold yet explicit expression has this picture captured or may be it is all about the strong resemblance we share ( I and the pup)!

This is exactly my condition when I hit a confectionery or cross by a bakery. I am so mesmerized that I can have a crisis of words to explain how I feel. Thankfully, I have some special people in my life who accept me this way and control my phases of frequent upsurge of excited emotions, and at the same time know to loosen up the leash when it is the right time.

Everything about a good looking cake draws me. The appearance, the colors, the shape, the distinct aroma that fills a bakery and the mystery of it’s taste. But, this is not the end.It is rare that I get the chance to taste it. Thanks to all the insidious scary calories and unwanted fat that comes with a hefty price.

Why and why on earth do such tempting pieces of ecstasy,calms the mind and scares the weighing scale?

large

Growing up as a ‘healthy and cuddly’ child, I have been innumerably forbidden to the category of the ‘don’t eat’s’ but my devoted love for good cakes has remained solid ever since then.

thirtyrosesA love so strong, that I developed the knack to bake cakes my way (vegan ways) so they no longer remain forbidden in any ways to me, any longer and I can moderately and frequently surrender myself to the pleasure of the palate 🙂

Well, come to think of it, what makes some of the most desirable things so true to be tempting and yet forbidden? Is it because someone advised them to be so or is it because of the anticipation of what might follow? For sure, it is obvious by now, after being on the happier and some-what matured side of thirty, there is definitely a frenzy charm that underlies in things that are forbidden. The more we know a thing  is forbidden , the more is the curiosity to explore and uncover it, just like discovering a secret chest aging in the dark corners of the attic.

In a world like today, we are all kids outside the candy store.

While some like me, are tempted to cross the glass window and discover the cake beneath the enticing frosting, there is the other half of the race, who are engaged in discovering the forbidden powers and wrecking the world for nobody’s good continuing the legendary stories of the jinxed ‘forbidden fruit’.

Had half the world chosen good taste over these deceptively good forbidden powers, I bet it could turn out to be so much better for all of us..

Forbidden