For Narnia!

I gently held you through those nights,

Watching you endure your plight.

I stroked your head while you whined,

These agonising memories trapped in the webs of time.

I watched those brown eyes

Close their final goodbye.

I caught your last breath

On a sigh.

I held your paw with all my heart,

Even now when we’re apart.

I watched you cross the Rainbow Bridge,

Where you can run and play and you can live

A life without suffering and pain

Til we fulfill our hearts’ silent promise to meet again.

(This took me a while to write and only because I was trying to get my emotions into words.)

Memories captured and frozen in time.

Memories captured and frozen in time.

Go Goa… Let’s (not) Football! (Part 2)

Saturday ended on a rather caliginous note but there were a few of us who had hope that there would be tickets on Sunday. Personally, I had lost all hope of acquiring tickets especially after the cops on duty at Campal openly stated that the ticket counter would be closed on Sunday. My head was reeling with questions. Where were all the tickets? Who took them? What happened to them? 19,000 tickets, only 50% were “supposed” to be out on sale. Who do we question? Who is the brain behind Goans being deprived of watching a sport they are passionate about? How can this possibly be fair? From the hike of the tickets to the unavailability all I could see everywhere was “Amchi Goa!” (Our Goa) indeed… but whose team is this? Definitely not the Goans because we are being deprived of watching the match.

There were lengthy discussions and debates all over the popular social media sites, everyone speculating about why there were no tickets. All of Saturday passed by with us mulling over not getting tickets. My husband, our friends and I considered going to the Campal Stadium early and standing in line. As if five and a half hours on Saturday, withering away in the sweltering heat was not enough. We finally decided against it.

A few brave friends decided to give waiting in queues another try. Relying on updates I waited with bated breath hoping against hope that there would be something positive. My friends waited patiently only to reconfirm that the ticket counter did not open. Frustration took over and they wrecked a police car.

However, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (known as Fatorda Stadium) had an entirely different scenes. One of my friends went to the stadium at 4 a.m. There were people who had been there since midnight eagerly waiting for the ticket counter to open. They were in luck! The ticket counter did open but not for long. The crowd went beserk. They set the counter on fire. After waiting in line on Saturday, returning on Sunday, it was overwhelming to be faced with disappointment. I spoke to a few people who stayed the night outside the stadiums. More than being angry it was the disappointment.

The cherry on the pie was the sponsors of FC Goa promising parallel screenings for the North and South so disappointed fans can watch the game “live”. This is a clear mockery of our intelligence. Why would we want to watch a match being played in Goa, on a screen instead of at the stadium?

I am an ardent football fan considering my family owned one of the Goan football teams. I was raised watching football. Calcutta has always been a second home to me and to not watch this match where my “teams” are at loggerheads is just preposterous! Who do we approach to rectify this? Who do we talk to? What measures do we resort to in order to be heard? The sponsors claim they heard our complaints but are they actually listening? A screening? Really? How is that supposed to help when the main issue is the “disappearance” of the tickets?

On Saturday, one of my friends met someone who works for the Sports Authority of Goa (SAG) and she said she took tickets before the counter opened. This was an hour and a half before the counter did open. How fair is this? There were others who did the same thing. Tickets were “taken” before the opening of the counter. Now this is a perfectly good reason to get worked up. After standing in the heat for five and a half hours, listening to theories about where the bulk of the tickets are was infuriating. Cops openly giving their “theories” which happened to be closest to the truth. The worst part is knowing that we cannot do a thing about it. Raising voices, resorting to violence, this is history repeating itself. No one gives a hoot and even in the future events, we will face the same thing and recall all past incidents like what happened at Lusofonia games.

It is indeed disheartening not to be there to watch your team considering they rose from the tail end to the head. Why should the fans suffer considering most of us were there for all the home games standing by the team through their losses and cheering them on to victory. It’s the fans who make a club. These actions clearly prove that FC Goa has no regard for their following.

I wanted to blog earlier but I thought I would wait for a while in case there was a change in this ticketless scenario. People are successfully selling tickets in black at ridiculous amounts. There were a bunch of college students who sold their tickets in black, in front of the cops on duty. Nothing was done about it.

So here’s another epic failure for us to be proud of. Go FC Goa… football without your fans……… we’ll all be divided at the North and South screenings so lovingly arranged by your sponsors because they “heard” not “listened” to our complaints!

1.30 a.m. outside Indoor Stadium, Campal. Pic Courtesy Akshay.

1.30 a.m. outside Indoor Stadium, Campal. Pic Courtesy Akshay.

4 a.m. outside Fatorda Stadium. Pic by Hanson Fernandes.

4 a.m. outside Fatorda Stadium. Pic by Hanson Fernandes.

The crowd gathered outside Fatorda Stadium.

The crowd gathered outside Fatorda Stadium.

As the day progressed the mob grew bigger.

As the day progressed the mob grew bigger.

People set the ticket counter on fire just outside the Fatorda Stadium.

People set the ticket counter on fire just outside the Fatorda Stadium.

Screenshot of FC Goa's promise for screenings in the North and South.

Screenshot of FC Goa’s promise for screenings in the North and South.

I questioned them on instagram and of course there has been no reply. What could they possibly reply to the questions I raised?

I questioned them on instagram and of course there has been no reply. What could they possibly reply to the questions I raised?

The screenshots were taken at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The pics are all from early morning to midday on Sunday.

Go Goa… let’s (not) Football! (Part 1)

I have not blogged in a while but then there was nothing worthwhile to talk about til today. As the wise old saying goes “History repeats itself”. The scars from Lusofonia games and inability of watching our home team play in the finals (that too having passes) was not enough there was today.

We reached the stadium at 9.15 a.m. thinking there would not be much of a crowd but a shock awaited us. We saw serpentine queues beginning at the ticket counter and snaking its way almost to the main road. By 10 a.m. the queue had lengthened, the weather started getting warmer. There was no sign of life at the counter. Impatience began to set in as the clock ticked away. 10.10 and there was no sign of the counter being opened. Finally ten minutes later someone appeared. Yes, just one person to deal with a couple of thousand ardent fans.

We stood in the scorching heat, hopeful to get tickets. Anxiety levels were getting more noticeable. The long, winding queues did not seem to move. Sales were supposed to be online as well and nothing was available. A few friends logged in and when they went to the “Buy” option it showed as the tickets were not available. There was a rumour floating around the crowd that there were no online tickets. The option was there but no tickets were sanctioned.

In the midst of all the sighs and grumbling, a pizza delivery guy appeared. Someone had called for pizza. That was a little comic relief for the throngs waiting for tickets. The unforgiving sun shone down with all its ferocity, some people left the queue and headed home (wise decision), the rest of us decided to brave the sweltering heat and continue hoping to get our quota of tickets.

Finally around 12 p.m. the line made progress and we found ourselves several meters away from the counter. Such an encouraging “zen” moment. Just a little while longer and we’ll be at the counter, we told ourselves. Time plodded along a little slower than the snake-like queues. Fortunately, the line where were standing in got the shade most of the time so it was not that bad. We glanced at the start of the line and saw a white haired man who had been in the queue since 8 a.m. reach the counter and get his tickets. We were not too far away from where he was.

Just another thirty minutes and we’ll be….. the counter windows were shut. It was 2 p.m., we were tired, hot, and hungry. The cops started pushing people back. An angry roar sounded through the crowd as people made a beeline for the counter. Without another second of hesitation we turned and left.

On our way out there were whispers that only 50% of tickets were out for sale and the rest given to the politicians and so-called “social elites”. The online site was not available and there was a rumour that there were no tickets for sale at all. Some said only 10% of the tickets were up for grabs online. We had assigned three friends to keep checking but there were no tickets available.

So; who is in charge of such good disorganisation? Who do we commend for such a great job done? Bad enough the ticket prices in Goa were hiked by 100-180 rupees for profit-making and then there was no availability. Supply was there, demand was also there despite the unnecessary hike but there was no availability. This is how football matches are organised here.

Just as we reached the car I got a message that the crowd had gotten violent. We drove away, angered to have wasted an entire morning standing around, saddened that these people have not learnt from past mistakes and there was a repeat performance of Lusofonia Games tickets sale. Hopefully they hire capable people to organise big events like this so fans don’t have to leave disappointed and vexed.

The serpentine queues at 9:15 a.m.

The serpentine queues at 9:15 a.m.

A group of guys chatted while waiting in line.

A group of guys chatted while waiting in line.

Oh look! Pizza's here! The best moment in those five and a half hours!

Oh look! Pizza’s here! The best moment in those five and a half hours!

So much closer to the counter...... DOH!

So much closer to the counter…… DOH!

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy, I wanted to meet you today,
But I don’t know where they put you away,
I just want to wish you and tell you I miss you,
How I hoped I could see you on your 80th birthday.

Dear Daddy, where have they kept you?
Where have they left you? What have they done?
They’ve bruised you, abused you,
And sadly you still call him “son”.

Dear Daddy, you drove me away,
He was the one you turned to on any given day,
I was cast aside while they fed you lies
I can’t bear to see you this way.

Dear Daddy, I sent your son a message,
He did not reply,
If he says I didn’t want to meet you,
Please understand that is a lie.

Dear Daddy, I’m sorry I couldn’t find you,
He wouldn’t tell me where you are,
I hope you are doing well,
And today, he treats you like a star!

Dad and me, Christmas 1985. I used to tell people I was my father's son.

Dad and me, Christmas 1985. I used to tell people I was my father’s son.

(One of the only things that has remained true through all the turmoil and upheavals is my Poetry! Written over two days because I needed inspiration and fortunately (or unfortunately) I got it. I use my poetry as an outlet of expression. My way of venting/ sharing/ being. I have experimented with the style again. I combined two different styles.)

Painting pictures

Mesmerizing pictures in my mind,
Peaceful seas and blue skies aligned,
Who knows what I will find,
Happiness has been redefined.
Enchanting silence in all its calm,
Enveloping me like a soothing balm,
With convivial thoughts I drift to sleep,
This bliss is for me to keep,
On a bed of tranquility where
The ocean of contentment runs deep.

Summer breezes and starry skies,
Capturing my contented sighs,
Magical sunsets in twilight hues,
This is the happy life I choose.
Flowers and fruit in full bloom,
Fill the air with sweet perfume.

(Experimented with a new poetry style. I wrote this on May 8 2013. I might build up on this later… who knows? I just thought I’d write something different, something about where my mind’s been taking me.)

Wharf’s cooking?

If you like long drives or you’re heading to South Goa then a good dining option is Fisherman’s Wharf. A few friends got together and drove down south to Cavelossim. The drive, the good weather and good company was just the tip of the iceberg. We’re all huge fans of good food so we were looking forward to getting there but had no expectations. We had all heard good reviews about the food there and thought it would be a good idea to try out a new place.

We reached, got a table for five and placed an order for food and drinks (if you like wine then you need to ask for the wine menu). We ordered a few starters. The food was on our table in about ten minutes. Prawns in ten minutes? Squids? That was a little scary. Very apprehensively we reached out for the squid tempura. It looked good, fried to a nice golden brown. That first bite and we broke into smiles. Fried to perfection, it had the right texture. Every dish that was put before us was with precision and every morsel worth every second of the ride. The seafood was fresh but then with a name like “Fisherman’s Wharf” one would expect fresh seafood.

The butter garlic prawns had a nice amount of garlic and it was not overwhelming. Just the right balance. Prawn masala was not as spicy as one would expect. What really knocked our socks off was the cheese butter garlic naan. Now that was really something. A generous amount of cheese oozed out of freshly baked naan with a light yet “flavourably” (yes, I just made up this word) amount of garlic. The naan was soft which made it even better. That took a good twenty minutes to get to our table but it was worth the wait. The starters had filled us up for a while. Baked crab cutlets could have been slightly spicier. The prawn jalfrezzi was excellent. Our meal focused mainly on the seafood and we were not disappointed. The desserts were out of this world. Apple pie, Tiramisu and Cheese cake one better than the other.

The service was brilliant. The waiters were friendly. The ambiance is not to be complained about. The restaurant is on the banks of River Sal and we were engrossed in gazing at the silhouettes of the fishing trawlers docked across the river. We saw a couple of trawlers leave for the open waters. It must be a really pretty sight during the day.

If you’re heading to Fisherman’s Wharf from North Goa then you can expect a long ride/ drive. It’s one and a half hour from Panjim depending on the traffic. Being a holiday yesterday there was not much traffic on the road. Head straight to Margao, take the road from circle and head towards Cavellosim, pass Raddison Blu, Dona Sylvia, enter Mobor and you can’t miss it. If you’re lucky the signboard will be lit up.

It’s definitely worth the drive. The food and service are excellent. Definitely a place to visit at least once. We’ll definitely be returning to Fisherman’s Wharf and the next time it will be during the day.

My pets and me!

I’ve received some pretty weird stares from people who have seen me talk to animals in public. Stares that say “Thees one ees a leetul loco in da cabessa, no?” Fortunately that doesn’t deter me in any way. I would rather be greeted by a volley of genuine barks than a fake handshake from an acquaintance.

I’m really glad I was raised in the midst of a menagerie surrounded by all sorts of animals. We had poultry (ducks and hens), rabbits and dogs, not forgetting parrots, budgerigars, munias, tortoises, turtles, even a gander at one point, cattle at my grandfather’s farm property and a pack of strays there as well. I enjoyed trips to the farm on picnics. I learnt how to feed animals and care for them. I found myself becoming more compassionate especially towards the furry and feathered ones who had no voice.

Now I am all grown up (or so I would like to think) and I have pets of my own. Three dogs. Got my male (a mixed dalmatian with street dog) seven years ago. The two females came a few months later. One is a rescue dog (mixed pom with local) who we are extremely proud of. She made it to the top 10 cutest rescue dogs in a PETA contest and there’s the black Cocker Spaniel. Shortly after I got my first dog I moved out of the house. He was my only companion and protector. Saved me a couple of times from being attacked. I dubbed him “My hero”. This was now in 2008. I spent my first Easter away from home with these three fellows. I was so depressed to be alone and then I had three little reminders that I was not completely alone. That was some solace indeed.

I’ve been questioned a lot about my choice to keep three dogs and that too in my extremely humble two bedroom apartment and no matter what answers I gave there never seemed to be a “right” answer. “Oh you have three dogs? You should give away two and keep only one. It will be easier.” “Three dogs? Don’t you want to go on holiday? Give the dogs away and go on a trip!” “How do you manage three dogs? That’s too much work. Just give them up.” Give them up? No thanks! They were there for me when I had no one. They were always there to remind me I was not alone. Any genuine pet owner who reads this will understand the love behind the words.

I do admit I have put my pets before humans and quite honestly have no regrets doing that. My pets have not betrayed me yet. What are they going to do? Go around telling other dogs what a rough deal they have? My pets will not attack me for sure. They definitely cannot rob me of anything I have. So far there’s just positives here. Oh wait! I have less space for humans? Now how bad could that be? The genuine people still come around and that’s good enough.

So you think I’m wrong to keep so many pets? Since when did you matter to me? Do you pay my bills? Yes, it’s so easy to judge what’s right for someone but what are the reasons behind the actions? Do we analyse that or do we just jump to harebrained conclusions? Where were you when some Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to force themselves in my apartment to “talk” about the word of God when I was living alone? Nowhere but guess what? My dog came to my rescue. Where were you when it happened the second time round? Not here for sure but not to worry my dog was there again! When I first moved out of my parents’ home my dog did not sleep for an entire week. We were in a new place, new sounds, he would stay up all night and stare at the front door. I barely slept for the same reasons. A girl living alone in these times. I thanked my stars he is a little rambunctious. It makes me feel we chose the right name for him “Nemo” after Captain Nemo from 20,000 leagues under the sea by Jules Verne (still one of my favourites when it comes to classics). Yes, no! I’m not a “Finding Nemo” fan if that was your first guess.

Why can’t I abandon my dogs and rehome them? The answers are simple. They don’t judge me (and of course no one likes to be judged!). They are always there by my side to cheer me up when I’m having a bad day or a bad week or I’m depressed or unwell. Those brown eyes looking up at me to remind me I am not alone. My Cocker Spaniel is like Vodafone… follows me everywhere. When I got my dogs I committed to take care of them til one of us breathes our last. I’ve sat up all night nursing them back to health when they’ve been ill. We’ve had some crazy fun playing catch around the cramped up apartment. When I look at them I feel blessed to have experienced unconditional love and even more blessed to have learnt that from them.

I think my reasons are pretty clear. If I choose my dogs over someone then there must be a fairly good explanation as to why. So far the toughest thing I have had to deal with when it comes to my pets is a few sleepless nights caring for them and that too only the Cocker Spaniel. My other two have not been sick a day in their lives apart from minor indigestion but that’s not something out of the blue. I wish I could say the same for some humans. Sleepless nights were definitely not caused over not being healthy but that’s another story or two or three or more.

I look at my pets as a blessing not a burden. My home is not a home unless there are pets to fuss over. They’ve taught me so many lessons about life and love, about friendship, about just being there and mainly about choosing who to like and who to befriend. So what if I can’t go on holiday as often as I’d love? I have the rest of my life to do that but I don’t have the rest of my life with my dogs. I value my friends who understand and share my compassion for animals. If you have a pet you’ll know exactly what I mean. Our pets are family and not just a “pet” or an ornament or something we keep out in the yard for our neighbours to admire.

Nemo - The one with the attitude

Nemo – The one with the attitude

Narnia - The rescue dog who was given two weeks to live.

Narnia – The rescue dog who was given two weeks to live.

The happy dog.

Nibbles – The happy Cocker Spaniel.