Bagha's Story, First Part, First Draft [en]

[fr] Ma grand-mère m'a dit plusieurs fois que je devrais écrire un livre pour enfants basé sur l'histoire de vie de Bagha. Cet été, j'ai enfin commencé à écrire. C'est incomplet et c'est surtout un point de départ, mais je le publie ici pour que vous puissiez déjà le lire!

My grandma has told me many times that I should make a children’s book out of Bagha‘s life-story. Sometime this summer, I actually started writing. I’ve not told the end of the story yet (maybe there is more than one book to write?) and it’s a very rough first draft, but I thought I might as well publish it here for you to check out. Feedback is welcome, as well as leads to interested illustrators!

The adventures of Bagha Byne the lucky Indian cat

Once upon a time, far far away in India, there lived a little kitten.
He was tabby and white, like a little tiger.

He was still very small, so he lived with his mother and brother on
the balcony of an abandoned house in the astrophysics campus. He
didn’t have a name yet.

One day, a tall lady caught the little kitten and took it into her
home. He was very frightened, so he hissed and spat and made his fur
stand on end.

But the lady gave him warm milk in a bottle and petted him gently.
“This is a nice lady,” he thought.

Day after day, she fed him milk and took care of him. Soon he forgot
about his mother and brother and was very happy with the lady. The
lady had a husband and a three-legged dog.

They called him Bagha.

Bagha quickly grew up to be a strong healthy young cat. He hunted
geckos and mice. He got into fights with the older tomcats living
around the house, and chased away the other young cats who tried to
settle down too near.

One day, Bagha got into a big fight with his dad, who was a fierce
tomcat. They fought and fought on the balcony. All of a sudden, Bagha
took a big whack on the nose and fell from the balcony! The lady saw
him and was very frightened. His nose was bleeding a lot. She put
Bagha in a box and took him for a noisy ride across town to see the
vet. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt very badly, and his nose had almost
stopped bleeding by the time they arrived. He did keep a bumpy rib and
bent nose for the rest of his life after the fight, though.

When Bagha was about one year old, the lady had a baby. Bagha too had
had children, and he shared the big house with his daughter, who
looked just like him. She liked hiding in the gutters and sleeping on
top of the mosquito nets. Bagha liked sleeping next to the baby or
behind somebody’s knees.

Bagha was a very happy pampered cat. He could go wherever he pleased,
had a nice cosy home full of silk saris he could sleep on, friendly
humans to pet him and rub his belly, and minced beef for supper.

When the baby was one year old, the family grew bigger again: another
tall lady came to live in the house. She liked Bagha a lot. Though the
first tall lady took care of Bagha well, she was now very busy with
the baby. Bagha’s daughter had disappeared and the lady’s husband had
gone to England for a few months. So, Bagha was very happy to have
another human to fuss over him and quite soon, he started sleeping on
the new lady’s bed every night.

Many months later, the new lady came back home with a rather large
wicker basket. The basket had a lid. The baby played with it and hid
inside. The lady started preparing big boxes and emptying the room she
and Bagha slept in.

Then one morning, she put Bagha into the wicker basket and they got
into a big Jeep with all her things. They drove for hours and hours
until they reached the big city. Bagha was hot and a bit worried, but
the lady was with him and kept him company. In the big city, he was
allowed out of the basket, but he was so tired and hot that he just
lay down in the bedroom until it was time to leave again.

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Kitty Pic Caption Contest [en]

[fr] Photos de chats cherchent légendes.

It’s no secret for anybody that I have a thing for cats, and from what one can see on the internet, I’m not alone. [Twitter loves cats](http://twitter.pbwiki.com/Cats), for example. My friend Sarah and I nearly laughed till we cried looking through [The Cat Page](http://www.dropline.net/cats/) last night. Oh, and don’t forget [Dunecat](http://catmas.com/blog/_archives/2007/2/7/2716641.html), [Pursecat](http://www.acc.umu.se/~zqad/cats/index.html?view=1173277999-change.jpg) or [Bedcat](http://www.acc.umu.se/~zqad/cats/index.html?view=1173277999-Iminurbedz.jpg).

Anyway, I took a couple of pictures of Bagha yesterday which clearly deserve captions.

Pillowcat

Traycat

Inspired? Post your captions in the comments, and let’s have a laugh.

PS: a couple of [these](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/tags/bagha/) (like the [DVD one](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/288589364/)) probably deserve captions too… take your pick!

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Travel Adrenalin Rush [en]

[fr] Projets de voyage: 28 mai - 5 juin, Copenhague pour la conférence reboot. Puis un ou deux mois à San Francisco (encore à déterminer) dès le 18 juin. Décision pas facile, parce que je dois me décider vite (sinon je perds l'option) et que ce sont des billets non remboursables et non modifiables.

On the way back home from judo by this bright sunny springy afternoon, I decided it was high time to hop in at the travel agent’s my brother had recommended and give a little bit of substance to my travel intentions.

Well, oh my! I wasn’t quite expecting as much substance. I’ve got a pre-reservation for [San Francisco](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/26/back-to-san-francisco/) (June 18th to August 19th — two months!) and one for Copenhagen (May 28th to June 5th), for [reboot](http://reboot.dk/) (is reboot happening this year?) Both are quite cheap, but the downside is that I have to give confirmation very soon (3 days for SF, one for Copenhagen) and that there is no flexibility in the dates (I can’t decide to fly back a few days later), and if I cancel I still have to pay the full price of the ticket.

I’m thinking now that maybe two months in San Francisco is a bit of a plunge. There are two issues:

– money (most of my paid work is done face-to-face — speaking engagements, consulting, training — so I can’t really “do stuff through the internet” for my clients here while I’m away)
– the cat (he’s 10 now, I’m very attached to him, and a bit torn between leaving him here and being afraid something will happen to him when I’m gone — I have a good cat-sitter *and* a good cattery, so there are options open, or taking him with me and having him not be able to go outside in SF, depending on where I’m staying)

So, maybe one month would be more reasonable. Specially as I’ve been told summer could be quite cold (50F=10C?! can anybody confirm that?) in the city, whereas it’s beautiful in Lausanne during July and August. And maybe come back in autumn? Heck. I need to go to Montreal and India too.

Now, just in case I *do* decide to come over to SF for a month, starting June 18th… Are there any events taking place mid-July that I should know of? As I said, once I fix the return date, it’s set in stone — and I would hate to be biting my fingers off because I’m leaving *just that one day early* and I could have known…

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Missing Kitty [en]

My cat has been missing for a day, which is highly unusual. I’m letting off a bit of pressure by writing it down (and also, I am getting slightly bored of repeating the story on IRC). Oh, and don’t feed other people’s cats. Thank you.

[fr] Mon chat Bagha a disparu depuis hier après-midi. Je suis inquiète, je tourne en rond chez moi, donc j'écris. Cela m'évitera également d'avoir à  répéter tous les détails cent fois sur IRC. Ah oui, le message du jour, c'est: ne nourrissez pas les chats de autres. Merci. (Edit: il est rentré sain et sauf!)

Update 13.08 13:30: The cat just came home, safe and sound. I’m so relieved!

18:00: Bagha came back through the downstairs neighbour’s window, as usual. He messaged me, I ran there, picked up the cat and squeezed him (OK, not too hard, I know my cat basics). He ate a little, meowed, cuddled, and very soon wanted to go back out. Sign, in my opinion, of a cat who has been locked up rather than one who has been roaming around for two nights in a row. I feel like somebody has turned on the light after two days of fumbling around blindly in the dark.

The Story

Bagha has been missing now for over 24 hours.

He’s an outdoor cat. I let him out in the morning. He comes in and out as he wishes during the day. I bring him in for the night. He sleeps in the crook of my arm.

It usually takes me about 3 minutes to find him in the evening. If he’s not waiting for me in front of the building when I come home, I take my usual little trip around the neighbourhood and here he comes, running or trotting out of one of his favorite “places”.

Very rarely, I don’t find him straight away. I go out a couple of hours later, or he comes in on his own.

Even more rarely, I go to sleep without having found him. Let’s say that happened maybe ten times in the four years we’ve lived here. I then leave the door open with the chain (like during the day) so that he can slip into the flat. He takes advantage of other people going in and out to get into the

building. I wake up in the morning to find him curled up on my feet — or at the very worst, I find him waiting downstairs outside the door.

Not this morning.

I couldn’t find him last night. I’d been away all afternoon and part of the evening (nothing unusual). Between 8pm and 1am, I must have spent approximately 4 hours touring the extended neighbourhood, calling for him.

I checked the roads, of course. I always check the roads. I’m terrified one day I’ll find his dead body on the sidewalk. I know this fear comes from inside me much more than from the actual danger: it’s a slow road, Bagha has a healthy fear of vehicles, and he’s a pretty calm, laid-back cat who won’t be caught suddenly dashing into the middle of the road because something startled him.

Still, I check the roads.

This morning, I started touring the neighbourhood again. Further than the places I know he goes to.

Conclusion: he’s not outside, or I would have found him. (Well, he would have found me, that’s usually how it goes.)

So I toured again, calling outside garage doors, pausing and listening. He’s got a loud voice. I’ve heard him calling from the cellar or the flat on the fourth floor where he was locked in once. He knows how to make himself heard.

This, I tell you again, is the cat who usually comes running to me once he’s seen me.

He’s microchipped. This means that if somebody takes him to the vet or the shelter, he’ll be identified as mine and I’ll be contacted. If he gets killed by a car, he’ll be identified by the team who deal with animal remains, and I’ll be contacted. I checked all this with people involved. No, they hadn’t found my cat.

I spent the afternoon printing out leaflets to stick on the entrance doors of the neighbourhood buildings (I had already put one in mine before I left for lunch). Now there are 30 leaflets with contact details, photograph and description of the cat, as well as my suspicion that he is either injured or locked in somewhere, plastered all over the neighbourhood. As you are bound to ask, he’s neutered, so he’s not after some hot female kitty.

One phone call, from a man who said he’s just seen my cat. I went to see, knowing there could be a confusion — there are about 4-5 cats around here with similar markings to mine. I don’t think it was mine; first of all because it was outside, and I tell you, if Bagha was somewhere outside I would have found him; second because I went there, and called, and called again, and no cat appeared. But who knows. Maybe something really strange is going on here. I didn’t see the cat this man had spotted, so I can’t say for certain.

Now I’m back home, vaguely waiting for the phone to ring or the cat to walk in, trying to find something to do with myself. I feel like hell. I don’t know how I made it through the day. I miss my cat horribly, and I’m so worried that something bad might have happened. The thought I might not see Bagha again is just too hard to bear.

Is this the price to pay for love and attachment? Now I know why a part of me gave up on love so long ago. It hurts way too much. Yes, hard times and sad times are a part of life just like all the rest. But they shouldn’t have to be quite as horrible as moments like this one.

So while I’m at it, let’s be a little constructive. Do you ever feed “stray” cats? Think twice. Cats are always interested in food, specially if you give them nice juicy tuna when all they get at home is vet-recommended dry food. (By the way, don’t give too much fish to cats — it contains thiaminase, an enzyme which destroys the amino acid thyamin, which cats are incapable of synthesizing.) The “hungry stray” might very well be just a clever beggar from the next block. Bagha regularly gets fed all over the place, even though I spend my time asking people not to do so.

Feeding somebody else’s cat just lures it away from its home and owner, centre of territory and primary source of nourishment and cuddles. So please, don’t feed other people’s cat. For all you know, the cat may start making a daily trip across a busy road to come and sample the delicacies you have to offer.

Thinking of adopting the cat that wandered into your living-room one day and avidly lapped up the milk you gave it? Some very worried owner may well be looking for it. Make thorough enquiries in your neighbourhood before getting too involved with it (feeding, naming, buying a litter-tray). This may sound stupid, but while my upstairs neighbours were keeping Bagha during my first trip back to India, he was simultaneously being adopted by a nice couple living just the other side of the road. He still came back here to sleep, but he spent his days there, complete with name and tinned food.

So, to sum it up: cats are independant animals and like to look masterless. It doesn’t mean all of them are stray. Oh, and please don’t feed other people’s cats.

Now I feel a bit better. I’ll tour the garages and cellars again once it’s nice and silent during the night. Of course, I’ll let you know as soon as the kitty turns up again. Thanks for listening.

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