Thursday, June 23, 2011

Outside of a dog...

A shout-out (or woof-out) for How Cheeka Became a Star and Other Dog Stories, which is the first publication in Natraj’s Wagging Tales series. This is an extremely well-produced and designed book, full of nice illustrations, cartoons and dog-related trivia. The contributors include a few professional writers/journalists like Ruskin Bond**, Pavan Varma and Jug Suraiya, but also people from other fields such as actress Gul Panag and Jay Panda – most of whom have this in common: their lives were, at some point, taken over by a canine friend, sibling or child. The result is a varied (if slightly random) collection of short pieces ranging from full-fledged reminiscences to enjoyable trifles like Maneka Gandhi’s "Why do Dogs Go to Heaven?"

The book’s title comes from advertising executive Sneha Iype Varma’s account of how the Vodafone pug became a household name. I felt ambivalent about that one, given how the pug craze led to a surfeit of irresponsible impulse buying by that hideous breed of humans who are prone to abandoning pets. But the more personal stories here – such as Nafisa Ali Sodhi’s “Born Again” and Shirin Merchant’s “Price of a Life” – should be of interest to most animal lovers. Personally, I could relate to Dhiraj Nayyar's Editor's Note about his tentative steps into the world of dog-dom, since I wasn't quite a "dog person" myself - in the sense of having developed a really close bond with any one dog - until three years ago. But since then...

** Ruskin Bond’s story is the one he wrote for the Tehelka Excess special that I co-edited in 2008

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