My Book Is Now Available on Amazon Kindle

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My book, Babar The Naughty Puppy And The Ladies Who Came To Tea, is now available on Amazon Kindle for download. Do check this link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FITRYGG. They provide about five free sample pages.

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I was so excited to see this page in the morning. 🙂

The Naughty Puppy

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A page from the book. 🙂

If you want to publish a paper back copy of my book please mail me at jmkhapra@yahoo.com. If you want me to illustrate for you, you can hire me at Odesk. I have an account over there.

-JMKhapra copyright 2013

My Upcoming Children’s Book On Amazon Kindle

20130913-102520.jpgI am planning to publish a children’s book on Amazon Kindle very soon. It is a book about Babar’s adventures. If I have time, I will make it a series. The first one I am going to upload is about the hullaballoo in the garden with the ladies who came to tea. Here are some sketches for that book. I have painted about 8 pages already and 12 pages more are left. Wish me luck!
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If you want to publish a paperback edition of my book please mail me at jmkhapra@yahoo.com. But as soon as I upload it on Amazon I can no longer give the rights to you. I will probably publish it 2 to 3 weeks from now.

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-JMKhapra copyright 2013

Babar, The Road Nut And The Search For The Perfect Pet Friendly Holiday Destination In India Part 1

 

The August calendar, I noticed, was looking especially colorful with three dates standing out in color red. My husband glanced at what I was looking at.

“We should plan a short vacation around these dates.”

Babar who was sitting calmly in the corner raised his head, ears perked up. I grinned at him. We both knew what it means. Road trip!

Three holidays are coming up, Eid, Raksha Bandhan and the independence day of India. So once again I went on the internet searching for holiday ideas. We can only take four day leaves from work, meaning the place I have to choose this time should be a one day drive away only which limits my choices very narrowly. To reach the most beautiful places in the hills of India you need at least 7 to 10 days. Otherwise most of the holiday will be spent on the road, which is also fun if we are not taking the dog with us. Babar loves running and hiking with us and I would hate for him to be cooped up in the car for the entire trip.

Babar loves riding in the car. As young as three months old, after his vaccines were completed,we have been taking him in the car everywhere around Delhi. We made sure the destination would always be fun for him and, never to the vet clinic for a traumatic painful injection. I read somewhere that, if his first trip on the car is going to the vet, he will associate that experience with the car so we avoided that. We took him to all the big parks in Delhi instead. Now he is addicted to riding in the car. He has to be at center seat where he can walk back and forth to peak at both windows. On these trips he likes poking his head out the windows,  the wind on his face.

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Choices for pet friendly hotels in India are very limited, almost nil. I have to be very resourceful and search mostly for adventure camps where I think the owners will likely allow our dog to stay with us even if it does not say so in their website.

Finally, after hours of searching, I found a pretty cluster of quaint looking cottages on top of a hill in Narkanda. A place we passed by when we went to Sangla last year. It is only two hours ahead of Shimla so we can reach there in one day if we start early from Delhi.

On the internet, I searched for images of the camp and its surroundings. It is in the middle of a lush green forest with a good view of the snowy Himalayan peak. I became excited. It is exactly the kind of place I was looking for. Crossing my fingers, I called the number printed on the website. The owner answered my call. He sounded nice and accommodating. After inquiring about the availability of the cottages and tariff, I asked the bomb-laden question.

” Sir, we are planning to take our labrador with us, will you allow that? ” I held my breath waiting for his answer which came quickly without the slightest hint of hesitation.

” Yes, you can take your dog here. Our place is spacious so he can run around freely.”

The adventure camp is called, Aagyat Vaas which means, I think, hideaway. And to hide away means you have to go deep into the forest and to reach the secluded peak means to climb dangerously steep narrow roads. Again. Roads in the hills are always the thrilling part of our adventure.

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I realized that after two years of living with Babar I have now come up with a decent list of pet friendly holiday destinations in India. Well, mostly in the hills of North India.

The owners of the places who allowed Babar to come with us are usually dog lovers too. All of them were also very nice, well mannered and treated their guests well. We have enjoyed ourselves, Babar most of all, in all of these places.

Number one on my list is Kinner camps, nestled in the gorgeous valley of Sangla in Himachal Pradesh. Owner Mr. Negi and associates were very nice to us. They were very accommodating and made sure our visit was comfortable and enjoyable. They became very fond of Babar. The tent we stayed at for four days was spacious and clean. Each tent has its own bathroom with a western style toilet.

Babar had plenty of spaces to run in the meadow near Baspa river, slightly below the camp area. Babar made a lot friends over there. The kids adored him.

There are also plenty of scenic places nearby, like Chitkul, Kalpa and the charming Batseri village.

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Sangla

Chitkul

On the other side of the Himalayas in Uttrakhand lies the mystical mountain of Chopta. And somewhere hidden in the midst of its endless sage green meadows surrounded by a dense forest, lies Magpie camp.

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For 3500 rupees a night (including meals) we had an amazing time, for we were the sole guest of the camp during our stay. Babar roamed around freely everywhere without any screaming, complaining auntie anywhere. Although I got spooked by their talks of leopards stalking the camp at night but the only cat Babar came across  was this one!

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In order to initiate Babar on our vagabond lifestyle we took him on a nine hour ride to the nearest hill station in the Himalayas. He was not even one year old then. We had a slight difficulty with his toilet habits during the trip. For the entire nine hours on the road he did not pee, even when we stopped at  many places. We were just fearing his bladder would blast. I read somewhere it is difficult for dogs to relieve themselves if they cannot smell their urine anywhere. But as he grew older this problem got corrected.

His first long journey was the trip to Sola , Shogi. There we found a pet friendly adventure camp with small charming cottages. The Hotel Oakwood Hamlet. The room was nice, the staff was helpful and the food was decent. Although the front yard was not spacious enough for Babar to run around. For guest with pets it is good for a stop over if your destination requires more than one day of travel.

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In Kufri there is another good stop over if you are traveling with your pet. Hidden in the middle of the forest are these charming cottages of Eco Village resort. Although the room is very basic, it is comfortable. The place is actually an apple orchard where guest are free to pick as much as they want. A few horses also gave us a surprised visit in the morning.

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For our stop over on our way to Chopta, we stayed at a camp in Rishikesh near the river. Babar enjoyed his sprint along the sandy shores and the sunset reflecting on water was gorgeous. If you like roughing it up I will recommend it but it is not for the finicky. The tent is not comfortable, toilets are communal and the food was awful. But it was nice to spend the evening near the water.

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I am sure the list will grow longer in the years to come. I will also try our luck in the deserts of Rajasthan. That would be a completely different experience for Babar.

The quest for the perfect pet friendly holiday destination in India can be very frustrating as you will not only get negative reply from most hotel owners but also disapproving frowns from fellow guests. But if you are patient enough when finally you do discover a perfect oasis for you and your pets it would be the most awesome vacation you can ever have.

-JMKhapra copyright 2013

The Unbreakable Bond

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From the moment Babar stuck out his little pink tongue and licked my fingers I knew I would love him very dearly. But an even stronger bond developed between Babar and my husband. I guess boys understand each other more. I am too much of a hugger and most of the time Babar would wriggle out of my embrace. He enjoys the wrestling game he plays with my husband more. When husband is at home I am ignored, well until he gets hungry. Only then will my face gets licked non-stop. Haha.I love how much they adore each.

Babar and hubby’s portrait of mutual adoration. Loved working on this painting. It was laborious but I am happy about the result.

The Unbreakable Bond, Oil on Canvas

copyright 2013 JMKhapra

What It’s Like To Have A Two Year Old Labrador

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At two year old, Babar still displays his puppy cuteness once in a while but sans his tasmanian devil-like energy which nearly drove hubby and I to the mad house when he was just months old. Our house has resumed its peace and order which in two years I have almost forgotten what  feels like. He also stopped stealing pillows and wrestling with it. I can make up the bed without keeping the pillows inside the closet or out of his reach. I can again display my favorite Indian cushions on the sofa without its guts getting ripped out.
I have also returned my books to a low bookshelf ( almost level to his snout) and arrange it together with some wooden knick knacks we collected during our travels without worrying them being knockdown and chewed to pieces. I even placed some hard bound books on the coffee table without the fear of him snatching it and tearing the pages apart. Oh how I mourn the literary casualties my book collection suffered during one of his manic moments. A book of short stories by Saki lay wounded and spineless somewhere in one of the cabinets. Baudolino by Umberto Eco is defaced, hidden in between his other books. Continue reading