I have, over the last few weeks, come into possession of two life-changing pets; a car, and a cat. One is beautiful, purrs like a dream, and is called Arya Stark. The cat’s nice too, but still needs a name. I’ve spent the last few weeks caring for (and falling in love with) both these things. And just like a Disney movie involving pets, I have learnt things about myself that have changed my life and brought tears to my eyes; like, for example, that I have cat allergies.
I’ve also learnt responsibility. For example, the car comes with something called ‘paperwork’ which you have to maintain. If you don’t, bad things happen; they’re called nakabandis. To sort out your paperwork, you have to go to the RTO. The RTO is a place that people go to after they die, if they’ve done bad things on Earth, like killed people, or robbed people, or bought tickets to Sajid Khan movies.
It is also a place many people go to die, because the average waiting period for getting things done at an RTO is “anywhere between bribe to eight years”. Paperwork consists of a series of documents that prove that the car is yours, and it meets all legal requirements. One document proves it is non-polluting, and goes in the glovebox. One states that it is registered in my name, and goes in my wallet. The third says “Jinesh + Jigna Alwayz” and goes on the back of a purple Alto that isn’t mine.
I’ve also learnt the importance of warmth, empathy and companionship. Nothing is as beautiful as the feeling of a cat happily asleep on your lap. Except Sofia Vergara holding a three-cheese pizza with prosciutto and arthichoke hearts. My cat and I, in just two short weeks, have forged a bond. She’s always excited to see me when I come home. She waits for me to eat. She sleeps cuddled up next to me. If this gets any better I’m going to have to do what any self-respecting Indian man must; find her father and beat her in front of him until he evolves into a human, earns lots of money, and buys me an LED TV (already have a car, remember?) as dowry.
Another thing I’ve learnt over the last few weeks is patience. Because having a car means that sometimes you have to park it. Parking in Mumbai is like Sherlyn Chopra’s dignity; there just isn’t any. It is the ultimate testament to how horrible Mumbai, and the entire world, has gotten. As I miraculously found an empty spot the other day, another man drove up, trying to claim it. When he realised I’d taken it, he didn’t just shrug and drive off. He gave me the sort of look that said “I will break into your home tonight and shoot your family.” Not because he hated me, but because if he did that, I’d have to get my car out to take them to the hospital, and then he could park in my spot. You can also tell when someone’s been looking for parking for ages, because they get that same hungry, desperate, slightly sad look in their eyes that Marwadi women over a certain age who haven’t found a husband usually wear.
The best thing I’ve learnt from the cat though, is the basic principles of fatherhood; the cat’s taught me the importance of feeding things on time. The importance of providing for those you’re responsible for. She’s taught me not to be afraid of potty-training. When I have a child now, I shan’t fear its daily ablutions. I’ll just let it relieve itself in a sandbox and then teach it to cover it up with mud. Ladies, try not to be too turned on by my Parent of the Year skills. Men, try not to be too threatened by them. You too can have parenting skills. All you need is a cat, and a car. Unless your car is a purple Zen with “Jinesh + Jigna Alwayz” on it. In that case, ditch the cat. A vasectomy should suffice.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi