A (partial) feline vocabulary


Two weeks of sporadic research
And n=1
But n is also =
My very expressive Son.

Who enunciates ‘M’s and rolls his ‘R’s
And is proficient in A and Ow
But will not utter, not being a mutter,
The common canine Bow.


Regular Sounds Yowl sounds
Ah Aaow
Errrr Ahhaggow
Iweaw Maaauw
Maa Mgwow
Maaw Moe-uuw 
Mah Muggow 
Moowaw Murrow
Mowaw Ow
Mrrwaah Ow-ow
Nyow  Rraaowh
Rrrrnyow Ugwow
Uwkg Wgeaow
Waaw Yuggow
The Volunteer

Corbett Business

Something pungent in the wind
And the wail of the one who circles overhead.
Sprays of purple flowers
Frame the heavy footsteps
Raising dust up in the shafts between the trees.

And at dusk, a chorus warns you
That something is on the move.

Eagle business, tiger business
Spider business, babbler business
And the dark and furtive business
Of the watcher on the hill.

And when, far far from here,
There is a hole that cannot be filled
You think about their business
And the world begins again.


Corbett Business.jpg
Dhikala Business



There are always more in January, said the old man.

What, dada? I said, crouching low as I watched one lazily circling the boat, its yellow eye never moving from mine. A cold, cold mind, I thought, lies on the other side of that eye.

What dada? I repeated.

My uncle said: Muggers. There are always more in January. Do you know why?

I threw the left oar into the bottom of the boat, and raised the other at an angle, gripping it steady in both hands, metal spike pointing out and down. The best way not to lose an oar, if one was obliged to strike. I shuffled slowly in a circle, facing the croc, matching its arc around us.

The yellow eye blinked once, and the animal sank, leaving not a ripple on the surface of the water.

It’s revenge, he said.

Revenge? For what? For the floods? They should be grateful, I laughed.

From when it was built, he said gesturing with his chin towards the collosus that loomed over the open ocean.

I looked at it, the impassive expression on the giant head. Patel Statue? I asked. What, a hundred years ago?

Seventy, said my uncle with a tinge of irritation.

Yes, seventy, I said. That’s right.

Your father was working for the Efdy then. They had to move 500 muggers because of it, my uncle said.

He told me they had to do it that January. The same year it was built, he said.

Why? Mr Patel didn’t like crocodiles? I asked.

Must have been something like that, said my uncle. I don’t remember.

If Mr Patel didn’t like crocodiles, I am a fan of Mr Patel, I remarked, with my eye on another grey shape that had bobbed up ten feet from the boat.


“I object in the strongest possible terms to this deeply prejudiced characterisation of my descendants.” Mugger, Chennai Crocodile Bank


This vignette is inspired by recent news.



The Pilgrims

When I sleep, I am warm beneath
A blanket made of birds.

Slave-birds, sadly, chattel
Who never felt air ruffle their wings
And did not doze on mountain lakes
Or graze on summer grass
And could not hear the call
When the ice came creeping in.

But high above, look
Pilgrims in long straggling skeins
Span the sky and fill our ears
Urging us, landbound and forlorn
Leap, migrate, join the ecstatic exodus
And leave your worn skins behind.



Greylag Geese with goose down intact, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Jan 2019



What is an animal?
If not a mouse?

What is neat nose and iris
Fluff, sinew and daggers?

And without Which (asserts my bookshelf)
A House is just a House?

What keeps a ear on Things
With whiskers probing the current?
And with anxious glower
Tail on standby, greets
Strange trampings in the hallway?

And after morning Ablutions
What tears around in glee?
Skidding and yowling to celebrate
The sudden refreshing life-affirming
Reduction in catly weight?

The culprit, passed out toasting in front of the heater (pencil sketch with egregious post-processing)

Saluting Pink

Some flamingos are greater
And other flamingos are less
Regardless of degree or stature
Flamingoes Never Make a Mess.

While flying in glorious formation
Or thoughtfully chewing goop
From Sewri to Nerul Station
We never see the Flamingo poop.


Juvenile Greater Flamingo, Nerul


Adult G.F., Nerul


A beak of a different feather. Pied Avocet, Nerul.


Some are Pink who do not flamingo. Painted Stork, Nerul.


Lesser Flamingos, Airoli


Daybreak, and harsh calls echoed off the mountains
Call-response, call-response
Pheasant making their report:
Too wary by far to be discovered
By a traveler stumbling across the frozen ground.

A lammergeier detoured from her upward spiral,
Hoping that we were nice juicy bones
And at chai time, Himalayan vulture, eye to eye
Stately, shiplike, divebombed by crows.

And we came down through forests of deodar and oak
Branches stretching away from the hillside
Pine needles soft underfoot and strong autumn sun.

Flocks of fantails worked unperturbed
Zipping with restless energy
Pausing only for a preen and reshuffle
Or quick wipe of tiny bill.

We turned a corner, and missed a breath
Witness to monumental beauty:
Hillsides in layers receding into the distance
Hard blue sky
And river tumbling over boulders
Left to mark the passage of ancient giants.




For the trek of a lifetime in the Great Himalayan National Park