I have just acquired a kitten. Her fur is the colour of sand and dry grass. Her eyes, like Aishwarya Rai’s. I’ve named her Shanti. Shanti’s a frisky thingy whose favourite toy is her own tail. She runs after it as if it was some alien creature trying to run away from her. Only when she catches hold of it does she realise that the ‘thing’ is part of her own body. And then she gives up.

Her life so far revolves around sleeping and chasing grasshoppers and other wild insects, which are often as big as her head. She’s has no fear of humans. It’s me who’s mostly scared of her getting under people’s feet but Shanti has no such qualms as she finds her way among crowds of legs and feet. She has that exultant look about her that comes only from innocence.

I brought her from the 'other side' in a used ‘Lays’ chips bag. During the long walk from the Jungle Camp to the ferry point she kept peeping from the bag. But on the raft when she heard the roar of Return to Sender down she went into the depths of the bag. Cats certainly don’t like water… not even the sound of it!

At the Beach Camp she’s got a lot of attention. First from the school kids who were here. And then from the staff who’re all quite besotted by her. The other day she singed her eyebrows and whiskers in search of warmth. I think she went too close to the tandoor or probably the gas stove when no one was watching. I hope that’s been lesson enough. Now my aim is to prevent her from being taken away by one of the many predators in the jungle. The sparrow hawk or the maybe even a leopard. The dog at the Jungle camp, Paddle, lost his whole family to a leopard. Since then Paddle’s not been himself. He keeps awake all night barking at some imaginary predator. He sleeps most of the day. That’s Paddle. He’s been on the rapids in the Ganga and in the Zanskar in Ladakh.

I hope Shanti’s also able to achieve such feats of un-animal-like sportsmanship. But cats are cats. And you never know which of their nine lives they are living at any given moment.


  1. LOVE IT! I can picture Shanti. I am not an animal person. For whatever reason, my son adopted a mut in December last year - Cali. He's away at college and Cali lives with me. For his reasons, God sent the dog through Jeremy. He knew I would not accept a pup unless it was my "baby" bringing her to me. Cali has been a great comfort and companion. She is also turning into my protector. I guess I needed her as badly as she needed me.


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