SOMETIMES I WISH…

Sometimes I wish, I owned a Horse,…

Human–horse relationship has a long and varied history. While meat may have been the first motivation in the very early stages for domestication, horses became progressively important “tools” for transportation and, like other domestic animals. With their powerful stature and ability to run with the wind, horses have intrigued humans for centuries. Strong, yet sensitive, with their attentive ears and large, expressive eyes, horses are wary of predators. They spook in response to a noise or sudden movement. And for decades now, horses have been included in equine-facilitated psychotherapy. 

I wish I too owned a Horse. Sleek beauties, muscles that roll underneath the supple chestnut-colored coat that hangs majestically on the frame. A flowing mane that unfurls and whips as the wind calls it, feet that pound the ground, a natural canter, gait. The quivering of the haunches as they rocked forward, a toss of the head and the big and genuine eyes rolling to and fro. 

I wish to own a chestnut-colored Horse. “A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure”- Rebecca Carroll. Horses were widely used during the medieval period, especially for transport. They played a major role in wars. Horses even found a special place in epic novels. Not only noblemen but noblewomen also rode a horse. I too wish to ride one. For me, going for a hack on a horse is a heady combination of adventure, exhilaration and deep relaxation. The mind wanders as you explore country lanes, woods, bridle paths, and cinder tracks. Moreover, one can go at one’s own pace – a sedate trot or a full out gallop, should you fancy it. For me, it is an overwhelming and mesmerizing feeling.

Sitting on the saddle, only a few meters off the ground but crucially this affords the rider a slightly different perspective on the world. One can Spot things, that he/she wouldn’t normally spot and, from the perch on a horse’s back. The rider is totally immersed in the lap of nature. I want to live such a moment, with my horse and nature, without any other distractions. I wish to imagine myself as a Queen, who has gathered help from neighboring allies and is rushing to save her people from the hands of enemies or a Queen who is simply taking a majestic stroll across her empire, where people bow down before her, or shout out praises, hailing her crown! Horses lend us the wings we lack” – Pam Brown

Horse ownership can be very exciting and rewarding. The primary benefits from horse ownership are recreation and relaxation, but many people do not often realize the health benefits that can be gained from owning a horse. Keeping that in mind that raising and maintaining a horse can be expensive, requires a lot of attention, and requires plenty of lands for the horse to run.

“If wishes were horses then beggars would ride” – English Proverb

LOVE FOR MEOWS AND WHISKERS

(Captured by Preeta Bhatnagar)

This picture was taken in January 2012, when I went to my hometown after the birth of my first son.

I feel our house is blessed because cats have been visiting us for generations (their)! I remember spending hours playing with kitties when I was a child. My adoration for them grew as I got older.

When I visited my parents with my 3-month-old,  I was delighted to see 4 cute kittens with their mom.  Jumping here and there,  playing with their mom’s tail, discovering sibling rivalry,  it was a treat to watch them having fun.  The mom cat remained serious,  while the baby kitties were too naughty.  They got a scolding also from my mom when they ruined her plants by digging the soil and sitting in the pot.  But,  nevertheless, they were too cute and would wake me up with their meows in the balcony. Whenever I visit my hometown,  there’s a cat in the house for sure and my son looks forward to play with it and feed milk and bread.

Quote of the day

She slept fearlessly amidst the wolves around, for the wolves knew they can’t scare away the lioness.

THOSE CREEPY-CRAWLIES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘YIKES!’

Do you cringe when you hear an owl screech in the dead of the night?

Do you yelp when you see a snake?

Do you hide under the blanket when you see a creepy branch rapping against the window,

Or jump on the bed when you see a spider/rat?

Of course, you do! Don’t be all brave and snobbish!

There is nothing, nothing wrong with being afraid of something or someone. It’s one of the most primal emotions known to mankind – fear, in fact to every species. A dog is scared of a bigger dog, a snake is scared of a mongoose, a lion is scared of man. Fear is often the only thing that is between survival and death. Then why hide behind a veneer of forced bravery?

Okay, it’s Monday morning. Let me not preach!

This week on Candles Online we are discussing Phobias and Fears. Since this is a Monday morning post (the week’s worst day), and since I’ve done some serious sharing on my real ‘fear of failing at writing’ in another blog post, I thought I’d spare you all the drama and start this week off on a lighter note.

So what’s my great big fear? Any guesses?

(Hint: It’s related to an animal)

It’s LIZARDS!!

Apparently, a fear of lizards is called Herpetophobia. So that makes me a Herpetophobic!

Yes, I have a morbid fear of them. I can’t tell you just how revolting the sight of their jaundiced skin is to me. To top it all, thrice in my life have I had their slithery bodies plopping onto me from some overhead crevice, the most recent incident being just a week back, and I nearly had a heart attack; my Fitbit recorded a heart rate of 165 bpm when that thing fell on me, I kid you not!

And as if that isn’t enough, I’m the butt of all lizard jokes in my family. Every time a lizard happens to be in the room, someone goes, ‘Oh, there’s a lizard lurking in that corner. Watch Pradita go bananas now!’ My husband has even captured me having a breakdown on account of a lizard in the kitchen on camera! Yes, I’m that lame.

Now onto the analysis part. One must ask why are we scared of itty-bitty creatures?  Can we not shoo away a lizard? Can’t we sweep away a spider or a cockroach? Can’t we trap a mouse? Yes, we can. But our fears take ahold of us and force an extreme reaction from us even for something as small and harmless as a spider. Some people are just born with it, but with most, it is because at some point of time, when we were growing up, we were exposed to a similar over-reaction from someone else and it became a part of our behaviour. It could also happen because we have been taught to be cautious of creepy-crawlies, because they are either disgusting or because they can bite/sting. So we developed a habit to react strongly since then because it got hard-wired into our brains.

As we attain adulthood such unnatural and senseless fears generally abate, but there are many, many out there (like me) who are just as scared of a bug as they were when they were five, some even requiring medical intervention. Granted some creepy-crawlies, like cockroaches, are carriers of disease, and lizards infact help you in getting rid of these pesky bugs from your home, but we still go berserk when we see them.

There is a scientific reason too for why we are afraid of these tiny creatures. It’s because our brains confuse disgust with fear; because both are strongly associated with something called the rejection response. As we humans evolved we incorporated this disgust-fear response into our behaviour. so it became a part of our ‘behavioural legacy’. That makes sense to me, considering how I think lizards are actually just disgusting rather than being fearsome, because really, what can they do to you, except scare the living daylights out of you when they detach their tails and freak you out. Yikes!

I’ll give you a real-life example. My daughter loves all kinds of animals. She calls lizards ‘Lizzy’ and when she started recognizing animals she had no qualms or fear about going after even the ickiest of bugs, like slugs and centipedes. She was unlike me in the presence of a lizard. But that changed over a period of time when she saw me over-reacting to lizards. Now she replicates my reaction when she sees a lizard and I hate myself for it because I’ve taught her to have an unnatural fear of these things instead of telling her calmly that she should be careful of them. Lesson learnt. Hopefully, I’ll undo the damage I’ve done in time, but parents beware, you may be passing on your fears to your children.

Coming back to the point of fear and how they affect us, the fear of bugs and icky things, laughable as it may be to some, can be quite crippling to those who suffer from it. I am unable to sleep in a room where I’ve found a lizard. There was an incident when I was in college, and a lizard was camping in the washroom of my paying guest accommodation, and I refused to go to the bathroom all night long, with the result that I had severe cramps the next morning that required painkillers. I have taught myself to control my unnatural fear and anxiety with regards Lizards, but I gave these examples to only remind us all that fears, even of the tiniest of creatures, are not a laughable matter when they start interfering with our normal lives. Extreme distress caused by these fears and phobias becomes a psychological disorder that requires treatment and therapy.

How do we prevent this from happening? In some cases, like where you just are afraid of such creatures, and they start to cripple your life, don’t be ashamed to seek help, you really can’t do anything else. But when you start getting those nasty panic attacks, breathe and tell yourself that they can’t harm you unless they come in contact with you (in case of those creatures that are disease carriers or sting/bite), and that in most cases, those poor creatures are more scared of us than we are of them!

Above all, do not, I repeat, DO NOT allow yourself to be humiliated or humiliate someone else for having these phobias. Remember every one of us has a fear of something. If we don’t, we’re liars.

I leave you with this quote by Tim Hoch –

Don’t be fearless, just fear less

Have a great Monday everyone!

 

Featured Image: ThuyHaBich at Pixabay

SLENDER LORIS – TINY YOGIS OF THE RAINFORESTS

Inhabiting the tropical monsoon forests of Sri Lanka and the inter-monsoon forests of the Western Ghats and Tamil Nadu are the demure creatures, the Slender Loris. As prim and proper as they may be, they are well known for their bizarre habits and at the same time are known to be one the most threatened beings of the animal kingdom. Having a height of about 7 to 10 inches and weighing just about 350 grams this creature beguiles the spectator (read animal lover) with its out-of-the-world flexible manners and social behaviour skills. One cannot but wonder how these beautifully designed creatures thrive so close to yet are on the verge of extinction.

They are primarily arboreal using branches of trees to journey through the forest as they seldom leap or jump which are made possible with the kind of toes they are born with, helping them to grip on branches easily. Being nocturnal creatures they hunt during the night, alone in search of insects or birds’ eggs, and are known to consume every part of their prey for that added boost of protein that make them so dexterous. However, their only social activity includes sleeping during the daylight in groups on branch tangles, at times curled up in a ball with their head between their legs. It wouldn’t be harmful to christen them as “tiny yogis of the rainforests”. The more you come to know these forest babies as they are nicknamed by the natives, the more intriguing they become. Their clan has dominating females and promiscuous males who engage in mutual grooming and wrestling for sport, while both the sexes tend to the infants of the clan. The females do not interact much with the other females except for the ones within the family thus giving them an exclusive status quo.

Their skilful hunting and consuming of the prey concludes with a quirky habit of using their own urine to wash off their face and hands that reek of the sting of the insects. They also use the scent of their urine to communicate and advertise their reproductive status to others. This animal is a gifted defender and is gutsy enough to stare at its attacker with its large glowing-in-the-dark eyes, emitting an obnoxious odour from its armpits thus confirming the existence devilish charm that hovers around it.  

Overwhelmed are you? I was too. Mind-boggled was I when I comprehended the reason of their extinction. Devastatingly a hundred of them are left in the wild. And why is that so?  It is solely because of Man’s barbaric nature. Man’s submission to the chains of slavery to the ever-compressing system of civilization. The continuing cycle of hate and vengeance has cost many a lives of the Slender Loris by sacrificing them in black magic rituals. During the rites it is believed that whatever is inflicted upon the creatures, will in turn happen to the enemy. Ironically, the animal is crushed brutally and all of its body parts are eaten and used to make traditional Asian medicine and tonics (to the natives of course) to cure leprosy, gain strength after childbirth. Its tears, used in love potions and teeth removed to avoid toxic bites to quench the thirst for illegal pet trade (for the so-called civilized masses).

Rousseau’s words echoes through my ears, “man is born free and everywhere he is in chains”. It sets me to thinking if civilization has brought out Barbarism in us or if we were more civilized when we were barbaric. I guess we were created on the same plane wrapped up in innocence, living in harmony with the animal kingdom till we rose to our Fall from righteousness and freely indulged selfish exploits. How can we let innocence die for our immoral lifestyles? If this is what civilization is would it be right to say that we were better off living uncivilized? There are no compunctions for what we continue to do as we just do them just to stay slaves to our system. We deplete our ecosystem, making the lovely creatures existing in it bear the brunt of our iniquities.  Our earth is a family. We are the caretakers of the lesser mortals constituting the animal kingdom. It is peak time we behave the same.

AYE-AYE MADAGASCAR

Aye-Aye! No, I am not talking in naval language, but talking of the world’s largest nocturnal mammal- Aye-aye. Found in the East Coast of Madagascar, these lemurs have some key distinct features. 

When you think of the nature’s bounty, you get spell- bound by the unique surprises it has  in store. Nature has made vivid creatures, each distinctively​  featured. Some creatures have long legs, some have long tongue, some have long tail, some change colors, the list is endless. 

Aye-Aye lemurs have a typical elongated middle finger. They tap on the tree trunks to find chambers. They use their sensorial powers  to listen to the sound  echo inside. When a chamber is detected, they nibble a hole in the trunk, similar to a woodpecker. With the help of their skinny long finger,  they pick out grubs from the holes. 

It is believed that aye-ayes spend most of their time in hunting food. And we humans skip meals, hunting for money for our entire lives!

Though I found these lemurs to be cute, there are many people who believe Aye-aye as a bad omen. They are killed instantly the moment they are spotted. I wonder why people are still living in the stone age. All the creatures are made by God. How can any one of them bring bad luck to others? If the poor lemur points it’s finger to any, it’s believed that the person will die soon. How obnoxious can this belief be! The finger which provides the Aye-aye it’s food, is considered as a bad omen for the people.

Because of this superstition​, Aye-aye was declared an endagered species in 2014. 

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere”- Groucho Marx.

PiFr2tA

It’s high time we should wake up and save the beautiful creatures of nature, because without them, our ecosystem will also be endagered.

Live and let live. Till then, Aye-aye!