Friday, December 19, 2014



On the morning of the 18th of December 2014, I went on my morning walk all alone – yes, after more than 8 years, I was going all alone on my morning walk – my walking partner Sherry was not there with me.

Sherry was not there with me on my walk because she had sadly passed away and gone to her heavenly abode just one day earlier on the 17th of December 2014.

I noticed that the familiar dogs I met on the way were looking at me in a confused sort of way.

Maybe they were wondering why I was walking alone – and where my usual walking companion Sherry was – for Sherry would always vigorously bark at them and try to chase them away (to “protect” me).

For more than 8 years, Sherry was my regular walking partner, in the morning, and in the evening, for every day of her life.

It is going to take some time for me to get over the irreplaceable loss and get used to walking without Sherry.

Long back, many years ago, I watched an old Black and White Movie called:  ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC

The film, ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, produced in 1943, stars the inimitable Humphrey Bogart, and is a story of the war at sea during the World War II.

The thrilling movie depicts the bravery and adventure of Naval Officers and Sailors on a merchant navy during World War 2.

A large convoy of ships is bound from Halifax in Canada to Murmansk in Russia carrying vital war material.

The convoy of merchant ships is pursued by German Submarines (a Wolf-Pack).

There is a scene on a dark and gloomy night, as the ships sail on treacherous seas with the dangerous enemy lurking below.

Humphrey Bogart, who is the Chief Officer of a Merchant Ship, and his Captain, stand in the bridge-wings reminiscing and discussing their time on an earlier ship which was sunk by enemy torpedoes.

The Captain keeps talking about the tough hazardous times they had when their convoys were attacked and keeps recalling various tragedies and misfortunes.

On the other hand the Chief Officer talks about all the fun, frolic, flirting, enjoyment he has had and describes his delightful amorous peccadilloes and romantic escapades in various ports.

The Captain berates the Chief Officer and asks him how he can be so frivolous and merry in a dangerous and grim wartime situation, to which the Chief Officer (Humphrey Bogart) replies:


That is exactly what I am going to do as I hark back and reminisce about Sherry – I will try to remember the fun and tell you about my happy memories of those delightful moments with Sherry.

Happy Memories

Four years ago, towards the end of my Girinagar Days, just before I hung up my boots, I went to the DIAT MI Room (Medical Clinic) for my outgoing final clearance.

The Doctor, a Colonel from the Army Medical Corps (AMC), who was a good friend of mine, said to me: “I was just going through your records – you haven’t reported sick even once in all these 3 years you have been here.”

“Yes,” I said, “if I fall ill, then who will take Sherry for her walks?”

“I think it is the other way round – it is Sherry who has kept you fit,” he said.

It was true.

DIAT (earlier known as IAT) had a sprawling campus in the hilly forests of Girinagar overlooking the massive Khadakwasla lake below the Sinhagarh Fort.


Every morning I would take Sherry for a brisk walk up Girinagar hill to the water tank – a steep climb of around 1000 feet.

There, I would leave Sherry to play and frolic around, to chase squirrels and peacocks, while I did some light exercises to refresh my lungs with pure air – and then we would return back, and I would get ready for work, while Sherry would spend her time playing in our huge garden, basking in the sun and resting in the shade.

It was quite a challenging walk – not the distance, which was only 3 kilometers – but the steep climb, which got your systems going.

On this morning hill-walk, most of the time Sherry would be “off leash” so she could run up and down freely.


In the evening, precisely at 5, my Doctor Friend, the AMC Colonel, would arrive at my bungalow.

Sherry would be eagerly waiting for him – watching the road from our first floor terrace – and the moment she sighted her Doctor “Uncle” she would start vigorously wagging her tail – and then Sherry would fetch her leash and come to me holding her leash in her mouth – for me to put it around her neck and take her on our evening walk.

Yes, the Doctor was our regular evening walking partner – and all three of us – the doctor, Sherry and me would take an hour long 6 km walk around the hilly campus.

Sometimes, we would walk a few kilometers more upto sunset point and back, and Sherry would always be game for any amount of walking.

Sherry would ensure that I took her for regular walks every single day of those 3 years at Girinagar, where the two of us lived in a desolate bungalow.

I may have missed an occasional evening walk.

But I did not miss even a single morning walk, because every morning Sherry would wake me up early in the morning, sharp at 6, sit outside the bathroom till I got ready, and by 6:15 we were on our way up the Girinagar hill for our morning walk.

It was the same in Aundh Camp, where Sherry lived the first two years of her life – we had a bungalow with a spacious compound and a huge verdant forested “cantonment style” campus outside, ideal for long walks.

Sherry and I went for walks every morning and every evening.

Later, after I retired and shifted to Wakad, my long walks with Sherry continued – one in the morning and one in the evening – and though we lived in flat, here there was a lush green park on the banks of the Mula River and plenty of walking routes to be explored with Sherry.

As my Army Doctor Friend said, “Sherry has ensured that you are fit.”

Yes, I could not afford to fall ill since I had to take Sherry for her two walks every day.

Sherry would wake me early in the morning every single day for her walk – she scrupulously followed this routine for 8 long years.

Then, for the first time in her life, on the morning of 5th May 2014, Sherry did not wake me up in the morning.

(I can never forget that ill-fated day and date – it was a Monday, the 5th of May 2014)

It all happened without any warning.

On Sunday evening, Sherry and I went for our customary evening walk in Wakad Park, where she played quite normally.

On Monday morning, Sherry seemed quite lethargic – she did not wake me up early in the morning.

But I got ready and woke her up.

But then, when I took her out for her morning walk to the park, she seemed listless, tired and unenthusiastic, and indicated to me that she wanted to go home.

I was worried.

I brought her home.

She drank water and lay down.

She looked tired.

I thought it was because of the oppressive summer heat of Pune.

I bathed and came out.

Normally, Sherry would greet me in a vigorous manner, when I came out of the bathroom, since this meant another outing to buy milk from the store.

Instead, Sherry kept lying down and she looked at me in a gloomy sort of way.

The listless look in their eyes, the sad expression on her face, her gloomy body language, and just one wag of her tail for me instead of vigorous wagging – all this got me alarmed, and fearful.

We rushed her to the vet.

Sherry had fallen seriously ill.

From then on, it was a downward spiral.

The doctors gave her a few days, at most a month or two – but we put in our best efforts – and she seemed to getting better – though she was never her earlier energetic self.

Sherry lost her vision due to diabetes induced cataract.

But till the end she did not lose her zest and cheerfulness.

Despite her blindness, I started taking her on her customary two walks, in the morning and in the evening, twice a day, after her meals and insulin injections.

These walks were not as brisk and energetic as before – and since she could not see – I “talked” a lot to her during the walks - taking her on the same routes so that she could smell the familiar smells and be comfortable.

We continued this walking routine for more than 8 months till 14th December 2014 (we had our last walk together on the 14th of December, like earlier, a Sunday evening).

And then from 15th morning onwards, it was a downward spiral once again, but this time she did not survive, and went to her heavenly abode on the morning of 17th December 2014.

RIP Sherry Karve (09 April 2006 - 17 Dec 2014).

I promise I will continue my walks – and you will always be there “walking” with me – not on the leash – but in my mind’s eye.


Thursday, December 18, 2014



There are times when you want to talk to someone. 

You want to unburden yourself of your sorrows.

You want to cry on someone’s shoulder.

You want to tell someone your sob story.

You want to get something off our chest

You desperately want to talk to someone.

And you realize that there is no one willing to listen to you. 

In today’s busy world, you are lonely in a crowd. 

You want to talk to someone, but there is no one to talk to. 

What do you do in these circumstances? 

Whenever I faced such a situation – there was always one person who I could talk to – someone who would to listen to me – Sherry – yes, my pet dog Sherry was always ready to lend me her ear, to empathise with me.

For 3 years, I lived all alone in a huge desolate “bhoot bangla” in the forests of Girinagar – and the only companion I had was my pet dog Sherry. 

Things were not very happy at work, and sadly I had hardly any friends in that remote place who I could talk to and unburden myself.

So, I talked to Sherry.

Yes, those days I talked to Sherry for hours – and Sherry listened sympathetically to my woes – and even talked back to me. 

Yes, Sherry always listened to me, with understanding and empathy, talked back to me, and I felt my pain ease, my distress dissolve away, and soon I was back in a good mood. 

I was in a similar situation after my retirement  for the last 4 years I am alone with Sherry during the daytime when my wife goes to work. 

So, for the past few years, my pet dog Sherry was the only person available to whom I could talk to and unburden myself.

Whenever I was overwhelmed by such moments, and talked to my pet dog Sherry, a beautiful short story by Anton Chekhov came to to my mind. 

The story depicts the overwhelming grief of a distraught father who has just lost his only son and his forlorn attempts to share his anguish with strangers.

The grief-stricken father, Iona, wants to tell someone about his son, describe every last detail of his son's illness to his death and funeral. He wants to tell someone all these things yet no one will listen. 

At the end of the day, the heartbroken man unburdens his sorrows by talking to his horse. He pours his heart out to his little white mare. 

Unlike the human beings he has fruitlessly tried to talk to, his faithful horse listens to his sorrow and commiserates, or so it seems to the old man. 

And having found a sympathetic listener, the despairing father tell his horse everything to lighten himself of his inner pain.

The story takes a powerful look at the lack of human involvement and compassion towards one man's grief. 

Iona tries unsuccessfully, three times, to find an outlet to his pain. 

Only resorting to the faithful ear of his horse, does Iona reach resignation from the death of his son. 

After having read Misery”, and seen the harshness of human behavior, you are forced to take an introspective look at your own attitude regarding the sensitivity of others. 

Anton Chekhov is a master at insightful studies of human behaviour. 

And even though his stories were written over a century ago, they are timeless classics, in that the moral value can still be carried on into our own present lives.

This famous story by Anton Chekhov is freely available for reading online on the internet. I have read translations of this story under many titles – Heartache, To Whom Shall I Tell My Sorrow, Misery et al. 

Unfortunately, something very distressing happened yesterday.

My pet dog Sherry suddenly died yesterday morning.

Sherry passed away and left for her heavenly abode.

Now, to whom shall I tell my sorrows? 

Maybe I will still talk” to Sherry.

And, maybe, she will listen to me up there in heaven.

I dedicate this poignant story to my beloved Sherry.

Given below is the link to Misery (To Whom Shall I Tell My Grief) by Anton Chekhov, and, for your convenience, I have also pasted the story from the url mentioned below for you to read.

The twilight of evening. Big flakes of wet snow are whirling lazily about the street lamps, which have just been lighted, and lying in a thin soft layer on roofs, horses' backs, shoulders, caps. Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost. He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent. If a regular snowdrift fell on him it seems as though even then he would not think it necessary to shake it off. . . . His little mare is white and motionless too. Her stillness, the angularity of her lines, and the stick-like straightness of her legs make her look like a halfpenny gingerbread horse. She is probably lost in thought. Anyone who has been torn away from the plough, from the familiar gray landscapes, and cast into this slough, full of monstrous lights, of unceasing uproar and hurrying people, is bound to think.

It is a long time since Iona and his nag have budged. They came out of the yard before dinnertime and not a single fare yet. But now the shades of evening are falling on the town. The pale light of the street lamps changes to a vivid color, and the bustle of the street grows noisier.

"Sledge to Vyborgskaya!" Iona hears. "Sledge!"

Iona starts, and through his snow-plastered eyelashes sees an officer in a military overcoat with a hood over his head.

"To Vyborgskaya," repeats the officer. "Are you asleep? To Vyborgskaya!"

In token of assent Iona gives a tug at the reins which sends cakes of snow flying from the horse's back and shoulders. The officer gets into the sledge. 

The sledge-driver clicks to the horse, cranes his neck like a swan, rises in his seat, and more from habit than necessity brandishes his whip. The mare cranes her neck, too, crooks her stick-like legs, and hesitatingly sets of. . . .
"Where are you shoving, you devil?" Iona immediately hears shouts from the dark mass shifting to and fro before him. "Where the devil are you going? Keep to the r-right!"

"You don't know how to drive! Keep to the right," says the officer angrily.

A coachman driving a carriage swears at him; a pedestrian crossing the road and brushing the horse's nose with his shoulder looks at him angrily and shakes the snow off his sleeve. Iona fidgets on the box as though he were sitting on thorns, jerks his elbows, and turns his eyes about like one possessed as though he did not know where he was or why he was there.

"What rascals they all are!" says the officer jocosely. "They are simply doing their best to run up against you or fall under the horse's feet. They must be doing it on purpose."

Iona looks as his fare and moves his lips. . . . Apparently he means to say something, but nothing comes but a sniff.

"What?" inquires the officer.

Iona gives a wry smile, and straining his throat, brings out huskily: "My son . . . er . . . my son died this week, sir."

"H'm! What did he die of?"

Iona turns his whole body round to his fare, and says:

"Who can tell! It must have been from fever. . . . He lay three days in the hospital and then he died. . . . God's will."

"Turn round, you devil!" comes out of the darkness. "Have you gone cracked, you old dog? Look where you are going!"

"Drive on! drive on! . . ." says the officer. "We shan't get there till to-morrow going on like this. Hurry up!"

The sledge-driver cranes his neck again, rises in his seat, and with heavy grace swings his whip. Several times he looks round at the officer, but the latter keeps his eyes shut and is apparently disinclined to listen. Putting his fare down at Vyborgskaya, Iona stops by a restaurant, and again sits huddled up on the box. . . . Again the wet snow paints him and his horse white. One hour passes, and then another. . . .

Three young men, two tall and thin, one short and hunchbacked, come up, railing at each other and loudly stamping on the pavement with their goloshes.

"Cabby, to the Police Bridge!" the hunchback cries in a cracked voice. "The three of us, . . . twenty kopecks!"

Iona tugs at the reins and clicks to his horse. Twenty kopecks is not a fair price, but he has no thoughts for that. Whether it is a rouble or whether it is five kopecks does not matter to him now so long as he has a fare. . . . The three young men, shoving each other and using bad language, go up to the sledge, and all three try to sit down at once. The question remains to be settled: Which are to sit down and which one is to stand? After a long altercation, ill-temper, and abuse, they come to the conclusion that the hunchback must stand because he is the shortest.

"Well, drive on," says the hunchback in his cracked voice, settling himself and breathing downIona's neck. "Cut along! What a cap you've got, my friend! You wouldn't find a worse one in all Petersburg. . . ."

"He-he! . . . he-he! . . ." laughs Iona. "It's nothing to boast of!"

"Well, then, nothing to boast of, drive on! Are you going to drive like this all the way? Eh? Shall I give you one in the neck?"

"My head aches," says one of the tall ones. "At the Dukmasovs' yesterday Vaska and I drank four bottles of brandy between us."

"I can't make out why you talk such stuff," says the other tall one angrily. 

"You lie like a brute."

"Strike me dead, it's the truth! . . ."

"It's about as true as that a louse coughs."

"He-he!" grins Iona. "Me-er-ry gentlemen!"

"Tfoo! the devil take you!" cries the hunchback indignantly. "Will you get on, you old plague, or won't you? Is that the way to drive? Give her one with the whip. Hang it all, give it her well."

Iona feels behind his back the jolting person and quivering voice of the hunchback. He hears abuse addressed to him, he sees people, and the feeling of loneliness begins little by little to be less heavy on his heart. The hunchback swears at him, till he chokes over some elaborately whimsical string of epithets and is overpowered by his cough. His tall companions begin talking of a certain Nadyezhda Petrovna. Iona looks round at them. Waiting till there is a brief pause, he looks round once more and says:

"This week . . . er. . . my. . . er. . . son died!"

"We shall all die, . . ." says the hunchback with a sigh, wiping his lips after coughing. "Come, drive on! drive on! My friends, I simply cannot stand crawling like this! When will he get us there?"

"Well, you give him a little encouragement . . . one in the neck!"

"Do you hear, you old plague? I'll make you smart. If one stands on ceremony with fellows like you one may as well walk. Do you hear, you old dragon? Or don't you care a hang what we say? "

And Iona hears rather than feels a slap on the back of his neck.

"He-he! . . . " he laughs. "Merry gentlemen . . . . God give you health!"

"Cabman, are you married?" asks one of the tall ones.

"I? He he! Me-er-ry gentlemen. The only wife for me now is the damp earth. . . . He-ho-ho!. . . .The grave that is! . . . Here my son's dead and I am alive. . . . It's a strange thing, death has come in at the wrong door. . . . Instead of coming for me it went for my son. . . ."

And Iona turns round to tell them how his son died, but at that point the hunchback gives a faint sigh and announces that, thank God! they have arrived at last. After taking his twenty kopecks, Iona gazes for a long while after the revelers, who disappear into a dark entry. Again he is alone and again there is silence for him. . . . The misery which has been for a brief space eased comes back again and tears his heart more cruelly than ever. 

With a look of anxiety and suffering Iona's eyes stray restlessly among the crowds moving to and fro on both sides of the street: can he not find among those thousands someone who will listen to him? But the crowds flit by heedless of him and his misery. . . . His misery is immense, beyond all bounds. If Iona's heart were to burst and his misery to flow out, it would flood the whole world, it seems, but yet it is not seen. It has found a hiding-place in such an insignificant shell that one would not have found it with a candle by daylight. . . .

Iona sees a house-porter with a parcel and makes up his mind to address him.

"What time will it be, friend?" he asks.

"Going on for ten. . . . Why have you stopped here? Drive on!"

Iona drives a few paces away, bends himself double, and gives himself up to his misery. He feels it is no good to appeal to people. But before five minutes have passed he draws himself up, shakes his head as though he feels a sharp pain, and tugs at the reins. . . . He can bear it no longer.

"Back to the yard!" he thinks. "To the yard!"

And his little mare, as though she knew his thoughts, falls to trotting. An hour and a half laterIona is sitting by a big dirty stove. On the stove, on the floor, and on the benches are people snoring. The air is full of smells and stuffiness. Iona looks at the sleeping figures, scratches himself, and regrets that he has come home so early. . . .

"I have not earned enough to pay for the oats, even," he thinks. "That's why I am so miserable. A man who knows how to do his work, . . . who has had enough to eat, and whose horse has had enough to eat, is always at ease..."

In one of the corners a young cabman gets up, clears his throat sleepily, and makes for the water-bucket.

"Want a drink?" Iona asks him.

"Seems so."

"May it do you good. . . . But my son is dead, mate. . . . Do you hear? This week in the hospital. . . . It's a queer business. . . ."

Iona looks to see the effect produced by his words, but he sees nothing. The young man has covered his head over and is already asleep. The old man sighs and scratches himself. . . . Just as the young man had been thirsty for water, he thirsts for speech. His son will soon have been dead a week, and he has not really talked to anybody yet . . . . He wants to talk of it properly, with deliberation. . . . He wants to tell how his son was taken ill, how he suffered, what he said before he died, how he died. . . . He wants to describe the funeral, and how he went to the hospital to get his son's clothes. He still has his daughter Anisya in the country. . . . And he wants to talk about her too. . . . Yes, he has plenty to talk about now. His listener ought to sigh and exclaim and lament. . . . It would be even better to talk to women. Though they are silly creatures, they blubber at the first word.

"Let's go out and have a look at the mare," Iona thinks. "There is always time for sleep. . . . You'll have sleep enough, no fear. . . ."

He puts on his coat and goes into the stables where his mare is standing. He thinks about oats, about hay, about the weather. . . . He cannot think about his son when he is alone. . . . To talk about him with someone is possible, but to think of him and picture him is insufferable anguish. . . .

"Are you munching?" Iona asks his mare, seeing her shining eyes. "There, munch away, munch away. . . . Since we have not earned enough for oats, we will eat hay. . . . Yes, . . . I have grown too old to drive. . . . My son ought to be driving, not I. . . . He was a real cabman. . . . He ought to have lived. . . ."

Iona is silent for a while, and then he goes on:

"That's how it is, old girl. . . . Kuzma Ionitch is gone. . . . He said good-by to me. . . . He went and died for no reason. . . . Now, suppose you had a little colt, and you were own mother to that little colt. . . . And all at once that same little colt went and died. . . . You'd be sorry, wouldn't you? . . ."

The little mare munches, listens, and breathes on her master's hands. Iona is carried away and tells her all about it.


Do reflect on this beautifully narrated yet profound commentary on human behaviour.

Though this story was written more than a hundred years ago, it is a timeless classic, relevant even today especially in our hectic yet lonely present-day life. 

Whenever I want to unburden myself, and if no one wants to listen to me, or there is no one I can talk to, I will continue to talk to my pet dog Sherry, and though she is physically not with me in this world, I know she will be be giving me a sympathetic ear and listening to whatever I have to say with understanding and empathy. 

Try sharing your sorrows with your pet. 

It works. 

You can take my word for it.



I had taught Sherry to fetch the Newspaper and bring it to me inside the house.

Every morning Sherry would wait at the compound gate of our bungalow for the newspaper boy.

The newspaper boy would put the newspaper in her mouth.

Then Sherry would get the newspaper to me and I would give her a treat.

She did this every morning in our bungalow in Aundh Camp, and later in our bungalow in DIAT Girinagar Khadakwasla, in Pune.

Suppose, by rare chance, we were not at home, Sherry would dig a hole in the garden, bury the newspaper, and cover it up. 

When we came back, we had to coax her to dig out the newspaper from wherever she had 
carefully hidden the newspaper for safe custody.

Sometimes she would dig out an old newspaper 
 yes, once she dug out a newspaper she had buried a month ago. 

Once I thought the newspaper boy had not delivered the newspaper, so I went to the newspaper shop and complained.

But the newspaper boy pointed towards Sherry and said to the owner: 
I gave it to Sherry  ask her.

We came home and asked Sherry to find the newspaper - and sure enough she sniffed around and dug the newspaper out.

Here is a picture, taken in 6 years ago in Dec 2008, of Sherry fetching the newspaper in our DIAT Girinagar Khadakwasla bungalow:

                           Sherry Fetching the Newspaper