The Devil’s Bug

When epic scares for Friday the 13th show up right at the start of the day, even in broad daylight!

This bud was pretty creepy not only for his ‘costume and gear’ but also for the fact that he managed to stalk me with his million little eyes for 20-odd minutes till I finally laid my sight on him!

Nature – Surreal indeed 😀

Advertisements

Puppy Attack!

It was a normal start to the day for me. I left for the hills early, hiking my way up and down through the route religiously. Gave my legs a cooling lap at the stream, as I listened to the wise old and fun couple crack sense and jokes, all at the same time. The usual stalking by a few ‘newer’ mini birds and a calf (a first in a long long time!) followed before I decided to head back to the base camp (the most rewarding part of the entire pilgrimage, as well as the most time consuming one!)

And then there were the usual ‘distractions’ to detour – a few more birds and invertebrates, which would make me stray yet again (but something I never really regret). I was hooked on to once such distraction and by the time we had enough of each other, I was lying on the trail, tired and hungry. The blazing sun had worn me out and I decided to take a few minutes off before heading back, laying there to review my bounty.

That’s when these Lilliputians showed up – trumpeting their arrival with pants, scouting and securing the trail, as their master trailed behind. As cute as they could get, I couldn’t resist and snapped a photograph, without their permission. But they weren’t impressed by my act and didn’t seem to like me either. As their attack got more vicious (cute, to be honest!), I decided to get up and clear the way for them. And as they passed by,  they gave me that look which very well meant’ If we wanted you dead, you’d already be dead’.

And I was like, ok…

Yet another, best of days at the hills and a fun kick-start to the day!

Shades of Green

A bunch of vibrant leaves on of one of the bushes that line the banks of the Seawoods holding ponds during a rather sunny morning.
Though the rains have been erratic in nature, the foliage in and around the area has turned from the dusty and sober shades that they put on throughout the winter and summer to surreal shades of vibrant green, the best indicator to the fact that nature has already got and stored it’s share of water 🙂

 

Watch Out, Watch Out!

This bud was sitting a few feet away for 2 straight hours (or even more), first cautiously looking out and then a bit more relaxed after getting accustomed to me, as I took a few snaps at the viewpoint from Parsik Hills a few days ago.

I do miss that light and heat from the day now. Hope these guys are safe and doing just fine.

Amidst all the Cluster

The silhouette of an Indian Cormorant, perching on the branch of a tree, during early hours of the day at Seawoods.

Cormorants are indeed amazing birds to watch. They are seen often around the different water sources around Navi Mumbai. Their favorite spot though seems to be the the lone poles that stick out of the water (at the holding ponds) where they perch on the top, spread their wings and often pretend to be ‘dancing around’, a behavior called ‘sunbathing’ or ‘wing drying’. There are many theories and explanations for this behavior ranging from ‘the dry of wings’ to ‘regulating body temperature (“thermoregulation”), though much of these are speculated.
But whatever be the reason for the behavior, these birds are indeed a charm to look at and just make your day.

Back to Where I Belong

Made my way back to the backwaters after a really long time. And this was the sight that welcomed me.

With the influx of the heat wave that had been steadily building then fluctuating since the past few days, the water levels at the holding ponds have come done considerably. Area that usually used to submerged have surfaced. It’s not clear (to me) whether if it’s due to the tidal effect or the heat. But the place indeed looks much deserted, like it was most of this year.

P.S – Had this building not been there (in the frame and in life), this picture would have been even more pleasing to my eyes.

Action under the Risin’ Sun

Two Gull Billed Terns take turns to scope out fish while hovering over the holding ponds at Seawoods during early hours of the day.

The holding ponds at Seawoods and much of the area, in and around the creek harbor a vast number of marine and aquatic species. The area also has a decent mangrove cover (which is slowly depleting due to many factors). Aquatic and Marine birds are often found flying in the region and the place is visited by migratory birds during the season.
But given the fact that these wetlands and similar natural hotspots (around Navi Mumbai) are considered as ‘wastelands’ by people, the place slows get ‘developed’ and much of the region turns into a concrete jungle. The quarrying activities at multiple points on the foothills of the Parsik Hills range, the MIDC area, the Palm Beach Road and Seawoods are some proofs of that ‘development’. While making way through the Palm Beach Road, one can often see signs like ‘Proposed Golf Course’ (near Seawoods or Akshar Building Signal) or ‘Proposed Public Maidan’ (before Nerul or BBQ Nation signal) which are put up by CIDCO. If these projects materialize, pictures like the one above would only be a memory and end up in archives of a long lost past. No, it wouldn’t be the final nail in the coffin but it sure would be step closer to that.
And after all it’s man who needs a coffin

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

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-11

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!

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-1

One the cute Bow-Tie Kittes!

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-2

Livin’ of the edge. Sleeping, actually

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-4

Yin Yang Reborn

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-5

Kat Style

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-6

Paws of Innocence

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-9

Sleepy Kitty

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-8

Spectacular even when out of action

 

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-7

Ear-tips like Batman!

 

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-12

Just conquered a hooman. Big Deal?

 

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-13

Kung-Fu Fighting while asleep

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-14

Kitty Temple at CCS with resident gods inside

2017-02-14-tgatwork-furlantines-day-at-ccs-versova-15

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