Stretchin’ It Out

An Indian Palm Squirrel stretches itself out on the service shaft ladder during the early hours of the day at Mumbai.

Like most wildlife in the region, these small and cute rodents have witnessed a boom in population during the last few years. They are often seen doing daredevil stunts like scaling straight walls, from the bottom to the top and vice versa and often come inside homes, either due to curiosity or in search of food. Even though their climb to the very top possess a threat to them and they often end up battling for life with the Black Kites and Crows that try to pick them up, neither their population or their climbing seems to slow down.

From The Window to Life and Beyond

I usually have a habit of sleeping early but at times, I do fall short of target and sleep late. It was one such night and the day turned out to be longer for me. By the time I made it to bed, it was 2 am. As I was about to lie down, I saw the beautiful hue in the night sky from the view of my bedroom’s window. That’s when I noticed that the fragments of the hill at Panjrapole, just above the mouth of the Eastern Freeway tunnel that passed below it, had this strange lighting around it. I first dismissed it as the incandescent lighting of one of the high pressure sodium (HPS) street lighting in the area, that I had been witnessing for the past 15 years, each night. But that’s when I noticed a strange half disk right above the sole tree, that managed to hold on from all the development activities in the region. It didn’t take me long to realize that it was the moon (a bit higher than in the picture when I saw it) and that it had this great orange color to it. I realized that this was the same thing I had seen a few days ago around the same time of the night and found it strange back then, thanks to all the conspiracy theory files that I had been reading and watching lately. I very much knew most sights from that window as it was one of the places where I started my photographic journey, taking numerous photographs, first with my phone and then with the camera. I also remember making numerous timelapses of the brilliant sunsets (this hill is in the west direction), cloudscapes and nightscape that would show up most days (except when it used to rain). The first time I noticed that light, I knew that it was something I hadn’t noticed before and was perhaps something that came up recently. But today I realized that it was the moon after all. I spent some time watching it and then decided to take a snap. After setting the tripod on the bed and taking multiple shots to check the focus and exposure, I managed to get a few usable shots. Thought I wouldn’t call it a great shot technically, it was a great memory for me and a gentle reminder that there was much to see and understand in this world for me, especially things that were right under my nose. There were many more miles to go in this journey and that I had just started.
There were things in this universe that no man in human form would be able to decipher. We often come past these things in life and dismiss them as myths, fake news and even bullshit. Given the arrogance humans have been harboring in them since ages, this isn’t something new, even if such things were true after all. But we must realize that there are things beyond our reach and understanding and the best we could do in this short life span was to try understand them, they way they are and not adulterate them with our personal fascinations and creativity. Most things that would make a human curious at first would turn out to be the most simple things in life that had been taking place since ages. All we needed was the patience to understand what these things meant and when it was the right time for them to reveal themselves to us, if they were ever meant to be so.
It’s the gift of observation, understanding, acceptance of one’s short comings and the spirit to work towards overcoming them in the right manner that made a human different from others.
This sure was one the best memories I had from what I call ‘The Window to Life and Beyond’

March 2017

Furrentines Day 2017 at Cat Cafe Studio

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Clint Eastwood striking an imposing pose

Situated amidst clutter in the heart of Mumbai, could you imagine that Versova would hide a treasure like this? A hidden gem? As a matter of fact, it does.

I was fortunate enough to visit the Cat Café Studio finally! I had been stalking their page since it came to my notice on Facebook. The wonderful adverts that ran on Facebook with cats running all around was a dream, too good to be true. The last time I had heard of a similar place was the ‘True Love Cafe’, a Husky-themed café at Bangkok. But Versova, being more accessibly for me, at least for now, I knew that I had to make it to the place. So I did enough of stalking and research before hitting it and making my way for the Furrlentines Day Event, a Valentine’s Day event full of kitty love!

The Cat Café Studio had shifted to its new location, Bungalow no. 63, a few blocks from where it earlier had taken off from a few days ago. The whole journey till Versova was so tiring that it had taken the best of us, thanks to the surprising heat that came up during the middle of February. But I knew that no matter what we went through, the truest form of love reciprocated by animals would set things right for us. No matter what situation, they will love you unconditionally. Or perhaps for some treats too!

Though we didn’t know the place, our eyes kept scanning the streets and soon fell on the beautiful logo of a black cat in a coffee cup which greeted us by saying that we had reached the right location. I was wondering how it would turn out to be and tried hard to contain my excitement. As we entered, we were directed to the ordering counter where we could satiate our gluttony. After a precarious glance, I ordered my favourite strawberry milkshake, the best thing to beat the heat and pump in some glucose to make up for the fatigue.

As I was waiting for my order, I met an acquaintance, Shifu. He was the furriest pup I had ever met. His hazel eyes were full of love and called me for a cuddle. There was another pup who was sleeping beside but we didn’t disturb it and let it nap peaceful. After a nice snuggle session, we were directed to the main café area.

The door for immense love and happiness was opened. As soon as I entered, I saw my furry friends in all shapes, sizes and colors, having a blast. Some of them were fast asleep looking coy. While some were hanging out with their hypnotised & tamed ‘hoomans’ around them. The ambiance of the room was full of love. It was one of the most unique experiences of life. Something which makes you want to cuddle these furballs even through your computer & mobile screens. We proceeded further after having cleansed our hands with anti bacterial solution at the entrance and made it to one corner from where we decided to move around their ‘kingdom’. The cats were fine having people around them and not one of them seemed stressed out. When was the last time you saw a cat ‘really’ stressed out huh? They always have this cool attitude and aura around them even in the most dire situations. Or call it ‘Cattitude!

I saw people engrossed in playing with kittens while the food was kept beside them. The people were so much into being with these furry angels that none of them got up and went to get their photograph taken, as apart of the Valentines Day celebration which as happening at another part of the Café. So strong was the hypnotism of these felines! I too was one of them, playing with each furball and showering them with love. I found my cuddle corner and sat beside a kitty fast asleep, watching it go ‘Kung-Fu Fighting’ while asleep. Many of them caught my eye. The cutest part was that some of the tomcats had dainty bows on them. Some of the furballs were filled with ‘Cattitude’ but that made them even more charming. If one cat was busy planning an escape by looking out from the enclosure there was another one who was constantly patrolling its ‘kingdom’. The little ones were busy chasing false prey toys that the ‘hoomans’ put at them, which caught their attention. Whereas the old timers didn’t care for any of it and continued with their scheduled kitty nap, as they had to make a hunt at night! Each cat had this amazing and cute personality that would melt even the hardest of hearts, with love!

The place had a nice artistic touch and even the smallest of elements looked great. I had slurps of the strawberry shake and enjoyed my time glancing at this unique place. I also have pictures which will give you a sneak peek into this heaven. All of them are cat pictures though!

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One the cute Bow-Tie Kittes!

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Livin’ of the edge. Sleeping, actually

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Yin Yang Reborn

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Kat Style

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Paws of Innocence

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Sleepy Kitty

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Spectacular even when out of action

 

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Ear-tips like Batman!

 

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Just conquered a hooman. Big Deal?

 

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Kung-Fu Fighting while asleep

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Kitty Temple at CCS with resident gods inside

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Did the cat come first or the egg? Or was it synchronized diving practise after all?

As I left the place, I wrote a message on their feedback, where I spent the best Valentine’s Day of my life. The place was really well decorated for the occasion and did emit a nice vibe. Thanks to everyone from the Cat Café team for putting up such a great show and for such a great day. It sure was an amazing place to be and one of the best days ever. And as usual, cats won our hearts, hands down!

Directions – The easiest and most comfortable way to reach Versova is by the Metro, at least for someone coming from New Bombay. Take the metro from Ghatkopar (initial stop) and get down at Versova (terminal stop). Buying a round ticket is helpful. The metros are frequent and less tiresome than trains, buses or getting struck in traffic if you plan to come by road.

The place (Cat Café Studio) is a 10 minutes walk from the Versova Metro station. Look up the directions on Google Maps. Its accurately listed.

Tips for enjoying the place and having a good time at CCS–

1) Admiration and love for cats and their ’Cattitude’ is helpful (even if you don’t, they will eventually bowl you out, no worries)

2) Its best to have your food outside, at the canteen area and then proceed inside. You will forget about your food once you step inside and its bound to get cold. Finish your food and then enter the kitty kingdom. There is currently no non-vegetarian food available on the menu (the last time I checked their menu on the site). Cats wouldn’t appreciate the fact that your are having a piece of their bounty.

3) Have your eyes on the floor at all times because these guys are literally everywhere! The last thing you would want to do is to step on their tails and piss them off. It would also be the last thing you perhaps do, mind it.

4) Avoid petting and disturbing the inmates when they are asleep or having food. Control your excitement till they are done with their nap or food.

5) After entering, choose a spot and wait. Stalk the cats, understand each’s temperament and then approach. Don’t randomly pick up a cat and start petting it. Cats always choose humans and tamed them and it was never the other way around. Approaching them after sitting down and being at their levels is helpful. Standing right in front of them as a towering figure doesn’t help. Also keep you eyes and ears open. You would find them at the most unexpected places, I guarantee. For they are cats after all!

6) Never use camera flashes of any kind – on-camera (in-built or flash guns), off-camera or the continuous LEDs on your phone. Flashes startle animals and make them uncomfortable. Avoid using a AF lamp if your camera had one (disable it). Its best to use a fast aperture prime, given the low light ambience at the place. Take as few pictures as possible and enjoy your time with the furry angels and not with your camera. You can always pay them a visit and love them, more than what you would through the pictures you have taken.

Address & Contact–

63, Harminder Singh Rd, Aram Nagar Part 1, Aram Nagar, Versova, Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400061

Contact number – 9920118771

Cat Café Studio is very much active online on most social media platform. Fire up some questions, if in doubt so that the cat-controlled ‘hoomans’ can clear it up for you.

Website – catcafestudio.com / Mail – info@catcafestudio.com

Facebook – facebook.com/CatCafeStudio

Instagram – instagram.com/catcafestudio

Twitter – twitter.com/CatCafeStudio

Note – You can also adopt the cats, if you are interested and can commit to it.

Ask any of the staff to guide you through the process. You can also check out their merchandise and make donations on the link – http://catcafestudio.com/

 

Body written by Pratibha. Edited by Tapas

Pictures taken and edited by Tapas.

Don’t copy or repost images without prior permission.

© Tapas Ganesh 2017

Been Watchin’ You

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A Black Kite perches on top of a building at Anushaktinagar during mid day.

These birds form the ‘Birds of Prey’ category in this area of Mumbai and are found throughout the city. From gliding over the massive dumps of garbage spread across Mankhurd to scouting the hills from several meters above with their ‘God’s Eye’, they do it all and justify their tag of ‘opportunistic hunters’.
P.S-One of my favourite incidents with them was when one full grown BK kept harassing a really angry feral dog, which it seemed to enjoy very much. It also had it eye on the dog’s meal that it had made from the local dustbin.

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The Walk

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A juvenile monkey walks past the rooftop at one of the residential buildings at Anushaktinagar.
As a part of the deforestation activities and the rampant ‘development’ taking place in the area, the resident wildlife has no place to go but to share the space with the ‘developed’ humans.
Though there hasn’t been much of a struggle yet and the monkeys seem to be more ‘cooperative’ than their human counterparts, what lies next is something that has to be waited for and watched.
We are yet again proving to ourselves that we seem to have a poor memory and understanding about the fact that these animals were here first, even before we figured out what ‘science’ and ‘development’ even meant.

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