Sunday, October 26, 2008


So how does one transfer cats from one location to another? Especially when the two locations are separated by a thousand miles or more?Bulbul has moved from Delhi to Hyderabad. As she put it, she packed her stuff, said her goodbyes, snapped all her ties, and generally got ready to put 26 years of her life behand her. Only then, she felt, she could begin a new chapter on a clean slate.

However, there was something she refused to consign to the bonfire of the past. We tried to dissuade her but she was adamant. We coaxed and cajoled. Bribed and threatened. Warned of dire consequences. Appealed to her reason. But all in vain. She would not budge. She was adamant. Will you or nill you, she would take Chhamiya and Chhori with her to her new home in Hyderabad. Chhamiya and chhori, the two cats.

But cats, sweetheart, how are you going to take them? Fly them, of course, she said nonchalantly. But think of the costs, sweetheart! Which would bring the retort -- " They are my kids. How can I abandon them?"

How could anyone argue further?

Bulbul retained the flat in Delhi for a month after the wedding. Meanwhile she moved to Hyderabad, brought in some furniture with Rahul, tried to settle in and before shifting the cats."So you wish to keep an empty flat for another month?" The landlady was incredulous. Sure, but she was doubtful. "Do you really want to keep the flat just for the cats? After all, the rental is high -- it costs hard-earned money, so...."Oh, yes, said Bulbul. The cats will stay untill I come back for them. That clinched the issue.

In between the landlady called. "Bulbul, the cats are crying too much. I ear them wailing all the time. I think they miss you. When do you plan to come and get them?"

So this weekend Bulbul flew to Delhi. she had done her homework, talked to the vet and been briefed on the transfer of pets. She had talked to the airlines and noted the necesary formalities -- the procedure involved, the costs, et al.

"Mummy, I will have to get them sedated before the flight, then put them in separate cages," she informed me.

She took the cats to the vet in the morning but he explained that the effect of the sedative would last only three hours, so the injection should be given only half an hour before the flight. "Do it yourself, madam," he advised. "It's not difficult." And he explained how to administer an injection.

Horrified, Bulbul listened. She had never held a syringe before. She could not imagine poking a needle into a living creature, especially not pets who had lived with her for three years.
But what was the solution? None. So she quietly noted the instructions, collected the syringes with the injectibles, and began steeling herself for the half-hour before take-off.

The last and final call for check-in. Half hour for take-off. The dreaded moment could no longer be postponed, so she put the cat-cages on the floor, sat cross-legged before them, and took out the injections. Her courage must have failed her many times, but there was no other way.
Chhamiya was given the injection first. Then Chhori. all the while Bulbul had tears streaming down her face. The cats didn't seem to protest much.

And then, horror of horrors, first Chhamiya went limp. then Chhori. Their legs went wobbly and they collapsed on the cage floor. Their eyes, however, continued to be wide open, staring at Bulbul -- almost accusingly, she thought.

And then the look in the eyes became glassy. The pupils were dilated but fixed. The cats lay unmoving.

Bulbul was hysterical and wept copiously. People started gathering around her. At first curious, then sympathetic. Fussing, consoling. The airlines officials, the airport attendants. Bulbul continued to weep.

With two inert cats she was helped into the plane. The airhostess tried to calm her. All the other passengers crowded around her seat. After all, not every day does one encounter such unusual co-passengers on flight!

Bulbul took a long time to breathe evenly again. Altogether, there were too many things happening for the first time: a reunion with her beloved miaows after almost a month's separation, then the whole process of getting cages, separating the two, injecting them with drugs that made them seem lifeless, and -- above all -- carrying their limp bodies across the skies, wondering if they would recover again, if they would frisk about playfully like before, run around the house, mewling and caterwauling. Or, by any chance, had she administered the injection wrong? Into a blood vessel perhaps? In which case, god forbid, they would never come back to their senses.

It was too much for Bulbul and her tears did not stop until an elderly gentleman by her side, seeing that her nose had turned red and her wisp of a handkerchief was dripping, took out his large checquered roomal from his pocket and offered it to her. Bulbul then dried her tears, stopped snivelling and started talking to the old uncle who lookes so much like Papa! Besides, the cats were beginning to stir: their eyes were less glassy and she could even detect the hint of a smile on their feline faces.

Meanwhile, at the airport in Hyderabad, a two-man reception party awaited. Papa and Rahul, apprised of the emotional trauma Bulbul was going through, cooled their heels, waiting for the flight to land. A saucer and some milk for Chhamiya-Chhori.

Happy reunions and some more tears, this time with no grief, as Bulbul off-loaded her baggages and her precious cats to helping hands. All bundled into the car, they set off for home that would now have two more inmates within its premises.

This morning when I called I was told that the cats are almost normal. They have eaten some food and are now exploring their new surroundings.

Bulbul begins a new life

Bulbul is now married to Rahul. Several months of high-pitched excitement. Feverish activity. Shopping for fancy stuff and jewellery. Despatching cards. Gifts and clothes. Placing orders for food and venue. All that has now ceased. The Sangeet. The wedding. The Reception from the boy's side. All that is over and life has grated to almost a halt once more.

Bulbul has now moved to Hyderabad to begin her new life. A job transfer allows her to take her bread-n-butter along to Hyderabad. Her cats, too, will follow.

Hyderabad, here we come.

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