How to travel with a pet in India

If you have a pet in India, you already know that almost nothing is pet friendly. This includes transport. However, I just traveled with my pupper from Bangalore to Kerala. And while the entirety of that experience was unnecessarily tiresome and confusing, I did figure out the process. For starters, here are your options – Flights (only air India allows pets aboard), trains and cabs.

For flights – I recommend you speak to the group crew about it. While only Air India is the only pet-friendly flight in the country, it also comes with it’s terms and conditions. If your pet is 5kgs and below – you can travel with your pet (in a crate), you will be allocated the very last seat if the pilot driving the aircraft is cool with it. (Yes, you are to pray that the pilot is a pet lover). If you’re unable to get the pilot’s validation or if your pet is heavier, you can opt for cargo.
Things you need –

  1. The right kind of crate
  2. Fit to travel certificate
  3. Weigh your pet
  4. Pay as per the weight of the pet
  5. And your pet will get to nap in the baggage storage area

I’d recommend you reach the airport early for the same. Cargo takes time.

Travel by Train

This is the option I opted for as the Air India from Bangalore to Kerala does not (I’m not sure why) have the pet travel facilities. While traveling via train with our pet was stressful at first (due to lack of information) I would definitely recommend it. Here’s what you do.

  1. Download ISRCTC app from playstore/appstore.

2. Book either two or four first A/C tickets. This is because you get a cabin exclusively for yourself. Inability to do so may lead to your co-passengers having an issue with your pet which is honestly, not a headache I would recommend. Choose the option ‘couple’ when you are booking ticket.

3. Make sure you give the correct email address and phone number 

4. Wait for the ticket to get confirmed (we got confirmation immediately).

5. Once you get confirmation, 24 hours before departure date, take your dog to a vet and get a ‘fit to travel certificate’ (if your dog is not vaccinated with all necessary vaccines, you might not get the certificate).

6. Then take 1 photocopy of all the passengers’ aadhar cards, dog’s fit to travel certificate, a hand written letter requesting for coupe mentioning that you will be travelling with a pet (ensure that you mention your PNR number, train name and number , date of travel, names of passengers in the letter).

7. You need to submit all these forms pinned together at the district railway manager’s office (usually there will be a box where the security sits, you can submit all these documents there).

As of August 2021

8. Time to get religious. Hope that you get coupe (which is a cabin for two that can be closed so your pet gets to actually stretch.

On the day of journey, make sure you reach at least 4 hours in advance with your dog. You can board ONLY from the railway station that’s mentioned in your ticket.

You need to reach the railway station to check if your got coupe- confirm it at the enquiry or by meeting station master (we got a text message about 3 hours before departure via the app). Confirmation of coupe can be checked only 3-4 hours before departure. There is no way we can know beforehand. 

Carry a file with photocopy of passengers’ aadhar card, fit to travel certificate of the dog and the original. 

Once you reach the railway station, take your dog to the parcel office. They asked us to show our Aadhar card copies, fit to travel certificate of the dog and photocopy of train ticket. They looked at our dog and inquired if we have a crate (ours was a puppy, I don’t think you need to have a crate if it’s a full grown dog but do get a muzzle and leash to be safe).

They looked at our dog (they no longer weigh the dogs) and asked us to pay Rs 300/- in cash. They gave us a ticket for the dog – this one is important, keep it safe.

We made the payment and we were allowed to sit in the first A/C waiting lounge. 

We kept our luggage there (pro tip- carry a chain to tie your luggage to the chair) and took our dog to the other end of the railway station to feed her and make her poop and pee. We kept making her walk and play so that she gets tired (your pet can get nauseous so we’d recommend to not feed them in the train).

10-15 minutes before the train arrived we went back to the waiting room. Our ‘kuli’ (a life saver) helped us to find the right seat (pro tip- inquire where exactly the coach falls – its usually right infront of the a/c waiting room but get it confirmed from the waiting list watchman/ any other employees of railway). We do not recommend you do this alone, between the two of us and our dog, we were super stressed throughout this whole thing.

Then we boarded the train, the TT came and checked the tickets and the dog’s ticket that we received from parcel office. He actually thanked us for taking the effort total a ticket for the dog; apparently a lot of people board the train with their dogs without proper documents and when they get fined, they create a ruckus (don’t be that person). 

Once our tickets and our dog’s tickets got approved, we closed the coupe door, sanitized the entire space and kept pee pads and cleaning supplies ready (disinfectant, room freshener, clothes to mop etc).

Also, the coupe was reaaaally cold so carry enough stuff to keep the dog warm.

Now our dog peed twice and we cleaned it up immediately. We could not get much sleep. You are not allowed to let the dog roam around the corridors unattended (tip: carry some bones for the dog to chew on and stay busy)

Do not feed a lot of food /water while the dog in on train, it can cause motion sickness and the dog could end up puking (we just made sure that she drank and ate before she got on train so that we could ensure that she finishes peeing and pooping).

Our train reached the destination and we got out of the train. The journey was smooth, we just had to walk around the railway station a lot to figure out the procedure. Now that we know, it really isn’t all that complicated (if you find someone who actually knows what to do).

Here are a few shoutouts because some things did definitely work out. If you’re in Bangalore – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THESE –

  1. Pawspace – We were able to drop our pup with pawspace’s pet sitter for two days as we walked around and figured out this whole thing. They are so good, the quality is great, it’s very transparent and they have great professionals. If you’re a pet parent and live in Bangalore, paw-space is the way to go. Here’s their site – https://www.pawspace.in https://www.pawspace.in
  2. Rego cabs – So after a series of autowalas and Ubers dropping us mid way or straight up denied us because we had our pupper with us (Why is India so disrespectful to animals? A conversation for another blog maybe) we found Rego cabs. They have a dedicated Innova for your pet drives. There is enough room for large dogs and you don’t have to worry about a thing. Easy to book, very sweet folks – definitely recommend. Here’s their site – http://www.rego.co.in/

Happy traveling pet parents! We hope India becomes pet-friendly soon.

“These mainstream journalists…”

To everyone who is sick and tired of journalists yelling at you with fake reports, hear me out. I’m sorry we have media that fails in doing its fundamental duty – safeguarding democracy. I’m also sorry that you are made to feel anxious after listening to the 9am news bulletin. I apologise that you have to see disturbing images and videos on your TV just because some journalist forgot to take ethics seriously.

Now that we’ve set our apologies right, allow me to state what I’m not sorry for.

We live in 2020. We’ve experienced our bit of the tragedy with pandemic but during this crisis, we cannot help but criticise the media. Its loud, biased, untrue and most importantly, annoying.

Then why do we still switch on our TVs? Why do we endure something we know isn’t factual in the first place? Because living without news, if you aren’t ignorant, is impossible. We feed off of news on a daily basis. Our conversations are based off of prime time news. Our petrol prices, taxes, government mood swings are all told to us by the news. So how does something so fundamental to public get off hand?

It’s as simple as this – The news you receive isn’t functioning for you because it isn’t run by you. You believe you are entitled to good quality and fair news because you pay your cable bills and subscribe to the cheapest available daily, allow me to snap you out of your bubble.

You get a newspaper for as cheap as 5 rupee to a maximum of 15 rupee. There is no way that any organisation can hire journalists, buy equipments, carry out the printing, rent out an office and carry out investigation or even simple daily reports with that tiny sum of money. This is where advertisers come in. Why do you have sheets and sheets of advertisements of digital sales every morning staring at you? Because they help the organisation survive.

When you, as public, are not ready to pay a higher subscription rate to the press, how can you expect them to work in your interest?

Now a possible solution that you may have found is – government subsidies. Good argument. While governments fund the military and take interest in this investment, one can only see a handful of governments doing the same for their press. Now I don’t mean that the governments don’t pay the press to have their preferred narrative. What I mean is, government subsidies work as a functional model only if the model is mandatory to all news organisations with the exception of any government involvement in the news stories. Otherwise, the press turns into what it is now -a mouth piece of the government.

We have our right to speech, or rather, we had. The real problem with the mainstream media today is that it makes the ones who aren’t aware of its financial spine, believe its radical ideas. So when a left wing funded daily presents news to you, you have no access to the other side of the story. This is where caste issues, religious ideas and community conflicts stem. So the next time you expect to see a good journalist, prepare to fund their process. Because writing what is fair, what the government wants to hide from you, keeping the sense of democracy alive, is not possible without money.

Also remember, it is mainstream because you make it. There are smaller independent media organisations who try to bring way less radical reports but it is because you are unwilling to try out and support such organisations that we are stuck in this loop together.

Incase you’re willing to pay for the quality news, here are some sights that can help you understand how impactful a functional media can be –

https://ruralindiaonline.org

https://www.bloombergquint.com/bq-blue-exclusive

Side Note : Take some time to understand how they’re funded. If they have a particular ideology. Take time to understand the media and then accept the information. This helps you become aware and not manipulated.

Denial Around Climate Change

If you’ve come across folks who are delusional about things, you could relate to this.

Picture this, you’re sitting on a bench, sipping on your morning coffee and you see a kid walking around with a plastic bag wrapped around his neck. Give him 5 minutes, he’s gonna suffocate himself enough for it to be fatal. What do you do? Run upto to him and try to save this kid? Pretty obvious right? So then, Why don’t we do that for our cohabitants?

There are 7 billion of us. 7 billion breathing, working, functioning creatures that occupy a major chunk of the planet. Yet, we all go about our daily lives unthinkingly. While we sneak our scooters into small lanes, rush to grab our coffee, get all the paper work done with a slight frown, cover our nose when black smoke hits us, we seem to forget how co-dependent we are. 

There’s a beauty in cohabitation, one that we seem to have forgotten with the race for urbanisation.  The concept of sharing a space comes with responsibilities and we’ve not done a very good job at that. You’ve come across the video of the turtle that has a straw stuck up its nose, you’ve seen tons of plastic floating on the ocean and yet you go on about your day with your stupid little coffee mug, don’t you? Don’t we all? 

We are the bad guys here and the sooner we accept it, the lesser the damage is. You can call out to a single country for the global warming but that isn’t going to make a difference. You see people are simple, we know we kill animals, we always have, what’s the big deal in that, right? 

Well it is a big deal. Because while we stand worthy of the climate change, they don’t. While we build grey walls higher, they remain deserving of their green lands. 

But let’s not make this impersonal. Why don’t we care? Why haven’t we started working against it as a clan? Why doesn’t it affect us? 

I would say capitalism, easy politics, corporate demands, consumerism, plain old ignorance but lets go with – “Because it hasn’t hit us hard enough yet.” We’ve prayed for people affected with calamities, we’ve maintained a minute’s silent for the ones who lost their life but that’s about it. Real measures like choosing public transport, buying thoughtfully, treating our personal waste, switching to a zero-harm lifestyle are just for the you tubers right? We watch them, we try it out for a day or two and then just sit in coffee shops and demand the shopkeepers to change their products so that you’d automatically be saving the planet. For our little royal needs, the scientists are sure of a royal end. 

We live believing that all that’s given to us, is our right. And some of it is, but maybe your primary right is the climate right. But when I say you have the right to clean air, I mean you’re responsible for it as much as the next person is. In the present day, a glance at our newspapers tell us that there’s no real point waiting for the governments. We can’t gather circles and speak about how it is our fate because trying a new lifestyle is just too much of a task for us. 

They say the death of art is the tragedy of our times but I disagree. I think passiveness and the urge to look for convenient options is the real smoke of sorrow that surrounds us. While we know vertical gardens will filter the air in our cities, we’re too busy riding around in the comforts of our bikes. While we’re all trying to tone our bodies, we rarely walk to work. There’s so much we do that’s going  in the wrong direction that it aches my heart and many alike, who understand the impact of climate change. 

You know the facts and the data around climate change. The cause and effect of global warming but when are we gonna talk about how the mass beef consumption has led to mass forest fires to get land for grazing so that the burger on your plate tastes good. How the little bottle of water over the counter isn’t a mere purchase  but log that’ll choke animals to death. How, as we mindlessly go for rides, as the ozone gets cavities and there ain’t no dentist fixing those. How, as we go about with propagation, our landfills take up the lands we promise our children. 

There’s so much out there to talk about climate change and yet whenever we do, we stick to statistics. We stick with numbers and ideas and the need to drop that temperature by 2 degrees. But the need hold ourselves responsible is fundamental. We’ve done this and its our mess to clear. We’ve gotten comfortable but that’ll change when there’s constant cold, when there unstable climate will affect vegetation and we’ll starve, when the heat wave won’t just be a news from the UK but a fragment of your everyday sentences. The reality is harsh and its time everybody stops being delusional about it. There are children speaking but adults need to get the message into their thick skulls. Stop silencing young inds, stop silencing logic because it doesn’t get your revenue. Stop resisting this because its coming for all of us and some of us have decided to act. All I hope for those who are busy with their daily bread is that, when it’ll hit us, you’ll deserve it but not everybody did. 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word ‘Minimalist’? Some popular ideas include – an empty house, the colors- black and white, fashion, slow and pale living and most importantly a hell of a commitment. The only one I’d partially agree to is the last. So to break it down to you, being a minimalist, simply means investing your money and time on the things that serve a functional purpose and nothing else.

While we run towards our dreams and aspirations trying miserably to keep it together and find happiness, perhaps we need to sit down with a cup of coffee and think if these dreams we keep running after, this idea of absolute satisfaction and joy is worth this whole struggle. Let’s look into why we are almost all the time in need or something or the other.

Given all that the current market has to offer, like cute Japanese stationery, millions of gadgets convincing you that you need help with just about everything, an option to choose from for every other item, a substitute for everything you probably already own and so on. Just when you decide to not go outside, you realize they’re all ready to deliver it to your doorstep. it may seem like a struggle but try to look at the bigger picture. Why are we constantly in search of something? Can we ever actually be content?

A popular blogger and minimalist, Leo Babauta wrote, ‘An ongoing quest for me, and one that I am renewing this year is to eliminate all that is unnecessary from my life.’ he continues by explaining what is truly necessary for life and that the rest can be avoided.

We are constantly engaged in making a list of things we believe we need. Seldom do we pause to question, ‘why’ and ‘Is it important?. ‘This isn’t limited to the market, even with relationships and any general investment of time or effort, we need to question if it’s truly worth it. Because if you do figure out the key to living a life that is simple and control this constant rush towards everything that your eyes fall on, that is when you’ll be a little more content and as far as happiness is concerned, well decluttering the unnecessary has never brought anybody sorrow. Unburdening yourself will ensure you control waste and save time.

Water : Too much or Too Little?

In a country like India it isn’t news that resources are kept at the doorstep for some and kept at the horizon for others. The rich and poor divide isn’t just theory around the nation, it’s a daily sight for everybody. Nobody really knows who to blame but it’s time we look into the logistics of the same.

The city of Bangalore acts as a crucial example for all that’s wrong with the entire country considering it’s the IT hub as well as the ‘Garden City’. Over the city, there is almost some construction work going on every day – be it drains, potholes, footpaths, flyovers etc. What media fails to mention is that every time there is a “crisis management” it is almost never planned, this is because there is no central account kept of all the development projects. Which means that drains are fixed right after road construction is accounted for.

This brings the spotlight to the authorities who take immense pride in boasting about all the “development” they’ve been aiding. The state has no ‘single/central plan’ for wholesome improvement which means they continue to invest millions from the treasure called ‘tax’ unthinkingly and this is problematic.

There are only a few things that are more problematic than improper management of resources, (which can be discussed on a later work) the most recent concern has been that revolving water. For a planet that is 2/3rd water we sure have a lot of water related concerns, this means both abundance and scarcity of the matter can kill the entire human race and for the same reason is something that should be written about.

In recent news, India has experienced floods in Karnataka and Kerala, two states where there were zero precautions taken for the same on a practical level. This is a result of inexperience on crisis and disaster management which is not a limited to “reaction” but also pro action. This includes coming up with a proper detailed safeguarding plans which ensure that any future disasters will cause minimal damage.  Which is absent in the present development cells.

Lets look at Bangalore City

The metropolitan city that hugs multiple cultures has drains almost at every nook and corner but the question is :

  1. Where do they meet?
  2. How is sewage treated?
  3. Are drains maintained regularly?
  4. How often are the drains blocked?
  5. Do the drains help during heavy rains?
  6. How effective are the road plans with regard to drains?
  1. Where do they meet?

These are all problems that end with revelation of the harsh reality. In practice, the locals almost always complain about how the drains  meeting up with lakes and ponds thereby polluting whatever water resources are available. This further leads to health issues and a larger problem of water scarcity.

India has not had the luxury of planning cities but Chandigarh, the shared capital of Punjab and Haryana stands as a classic example of why it should be popular and implemented.

For any piece of land to hold commercial and livelihood standards, a plan is essential. A systematic distribution of elements, a proper treatment of waste water along with other resources is a game changer for any economy.

In the city of Chandigarh not only is the commute planned but also the flow of drinking water, sewage and water bodies.  Bangalore, on the contrary rarely even carries out maintenance work for the existing drain networks. This just results in clogged drains, overflowing of water on a light downpour, scavenging and a fundamental destruction of all road or land projects.

The drains in the city usually pollute water bodies; a typical example is that of the foaming news of Bellandur lake. Other small towns usually have to wait for the local government inspections to even bring the problem to attention and then the wait for an actual situation takes another decade.

Most of the people are unaware of the pollution of water. This is typical of cities were overcrowding is a growing concern. This means high risks of communal diseases and damage beyond control.

  • How is sewage treated?

The bbmp along with all other state municipals have slight to no clue about waste water. This isn’t a local issue, it’s a national issue considering almost to state treats their waste water is a resourceful manner. The grey water is never flittered and sent for irrigation nor is it sent for treatment. Which means that we continue to exploit water until we can complain about its unavailability.

The sewage doesn’t collect in one big area, it is disseminated at various spots and because the covered drains are usually blocked due to the ignorance of the citizens, who take much pride in throwing out their garbage into the nearest water body, it isn’t surprising that treating this water would take a lot of effort.

Having stated that, other than private hotels and some companies, there is no real public sewage treatment plants. Most of the sewage is diverted to the lesser populated parts of the city, a disaster of a idea.  [https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/why-bengalurus-sewage-treatment-plants-may-never-be-enough-city]

  • Are drains maintained regularly?

The city has closed drains, which is admirable but these drains have slots for the water to run in which are very conveniently always blocked therefore cancelling out the very purpose of the drains. A simple way to avoid this and many other damages is by maintaining what we’ve already invested in. 

This doesn’t mean waiting for the rainfall to dig up freshly constructed roads in order to fix clogs. This means a regular check on the drains, proper filtering of waste, designing roads in favour of the flow and using assertive methods to ensure people aren’t throwing around garbage wherever they want.

  • How often are the drains blocked?

To clearly understand this, one can refer documentaries like “This is how we do it: cleaning a sewage.”  In simple words, drains in the country are blocked by a range of things like – construction waste, heavy plastic, cans and sometimes even dead animals.

In Delhi, the major internal stormwater drains were were caused by garbage, so much that TOI carried the news.  [https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/most-internal-stormwater-drains-blocked-by-garbage/articleshow/]

In the city of Bangalore, as depicted in the picture attached, the drains are blocked by as small as tea cups to unmanaged plastic.

The problem comes when we realise how quickly our drains block. MG road, the primary spot in the city were maintenance work isn’t as rare as the rest of it, drains get clogged the very hour after BBMP clears out waste. This indicates that citizens are just as responsible for clogged drains.

  • Do the drains help during heavy rains?

The city is currently experiencing a late monsoon, thanks to global  warming and the general ignorance around environment. What is worse than unnaturally heavy rain? Rain with nowhere to go. This is one of the reasons drains were built in the first place around commuting areas. Taking a drive around the city during a downpour accounts for the quality of the rains, not only does the water have no escape (due to blocks) but the water from the drains comes right out. This is because of the point mentioned in the introduction – improper management of resources. As the roads and drain maintenance is done without central plan, the roads are no longer slant slightly towards the drains but are the other way around. This is clearly evident in some parts of the city, thereby, yet again, cancelling out its very purpose, which is the sixth point of the argument made.

This ignorant use of water that is used and of the usable rainwater is to be looked upon while we complain of both water scarcity and floods. Planning the use and reuse of our resources sustainably will not only minimize our present chaos but also safeguard our future. The city of Bangalore represents all cities in the nation, one can only imagine the damages caused in areas with lesser commercial value.

Here are some images taken through smart phone while observing the water chaos in and around the city.