The Curious Case of Simba
An unusual story of a 4 year old dog who hails from Khandala, lying in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, gets adopted in Pune. I got chatting with Nikhil Bhushan, who is a media professional and works with a leading news channel and has recently shifted with his family & Simba, the sweet and cute Labrador Retriever to the bustling city of Noida, a part of National Capital Region. Excerpts from the conversation...
Simba & Nikhil looking outside the train window
The marriage of Niharika (his sister) and his job in Delhi with Times Now made him take such a step to leave the ever vibrant city Pune. Ever since Niharika got married in December last year, the family was concerned about shifting process. This was such a crucial decision for the family that they kept looking for the perfect flat for one and a half month in the vicinity of Noida.
The main concern for Nikhil and his family was to get a home where Simba could enjoy himself and roam around, which he could not in Pune due to the space constraint. And apart from the shifting process, he was worried more for the travelling part. How they are going to travel to Delhi?
From January to March, Nikhil and his family did a lot of research on 'travelling with a dog' and after reading on travelling in Railways and Airways, he decided upon Railways. When he pronounced to come through Railways, he again did his research on travelling in Railways and as he points out that "I read a lot of blogs including pet lover's blog, IRCTC blog (Railways), and the amazing part of this research was that I read almost 10-15 blogs, learning the whole process."
There was no clarity over the part on the travelling front, what Nikhil got to know was that there is a 'Guard Room' in the trains where the pets can travel. "Seeing the mixed reviews, I decided to take my chance of coming through Railways and booked tickets well in advance for 1AC coach of Pune Duranto."
As per Nikhil, the condition of 'Guard Room' is so terrible that the pet parents, whose pets travel in that, are extremely worried throughout the journey and come to see their pet when the train stops for a few minutes on any station so that their pet doesn't get anxiety & depressed.
The train journey had just started for Nikhil and his family, when he learnt that allotment of the Simba's ticket will only be done when the chart is prepared and in that also, you will be confirmed for a 'cabin' or a 'coupe'. It is interesting to note that a 'coupe' is for two people and a 'cabin' is for four people.
As Nikhil was travelling with his mother and dog, he had requested for a 'coupe' to be allotted to them. A coupe is a little costlier (around 10-15k) but will entitle you for a hassle free travelling as you won't be disturbed by anyone.
There is another point which Nikhil added during this conversation was that at this time was, "A coupe will only be allotted if there is a woman travelling with you. If there are two girls are travelling together, then you can get it easily but if there is a male involved, you have to take your chance."
On enquiring with his two friends who had earlier brought their pet from Bengaluru to Delhi, he got to know that all he has to do for getting a coupe is "write an application to the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) with all the details of your pet such as his medical, vaccination and behavioural certificates and you will sorted. Given the case, the DRM is satisfied with all the reports of a pet."
Another important point to note here is that you need to contact the DRM Officer of the city from where you will be starting your journey.
En route Delhi
"Before the day of the journey, I and my family were very worried whether we will get the coupe or not and I could not sleep properly due to this worry. But on the day of the journey, when I saw the chart, all my worries stopped and I could breathe in normally. On reaching the station, I had put the muzzle on Simba and he got worried for where we are taking him."
Narrating the incidence of Nagpur Express that he saw before starting his journey from Pune, he says, a dog de-boarded from 'Nagpur Express' and was in utter shock as he was coming from guardroom, and he was panicking (left, right and centre). The moment his care taker came and took him, he became relieved a bit but it was a bitter experience for him due to the darkness in guard room.
"On watching him, I sighed and thanked god that Simba don't have to go in guard room and we can take him in 1 AC. Simba also was getting anxious on watching us taking him to measure his weight, the measuring guy on watching him irritatingly said, please tell me his weight and we said its 40 kg, as Simba was not letting himself weighed."
Another interesting fact here is that on weighing also, Indian Railways charges per kg amount after 16 kg of weight for a dog. Till 16 kg, a dog is charged 50-60 INR payable while boarding and above that some amount is charged and so for Simba says Nikhil, "We had to bear 1780 INR at the boarding."
He narrates further, "on boarding the train, Simba became centre of attraction for everyone and the anxious & furious Simba got a bit relaxed as there was AC, and drinking water he had calm down. As the train started moving, he got wondering on from where the vibration is coming from. As the vet had given sedatives for fine travelling, we gave him the sedative after an hour of moving train, so that he could relax himself."
"For Simba, it was a lifetime experience, as he saw everything moving fast - the cows, the trees and barked on them from inside. People knocked on our door and asked about him. Everyone attended us like as if we were VVIP. When Baroda came, I decided to take him out for relieving himself and so had to put the chain on (otherwise we hate it) and watching this thing, he became conscious and stopped moving and I literally had to drag him outside along with an attendant."
This behaviour of his was the result of him being stayed in Pune hostel during Niharika's marriage, as it was solemnised in Kolkata, so "we had to put him in a hostel for almost a week in the entire 4 years and this thing must have been there in his mind that we are leaving him somewhere like hostel. As we were receiving the VVIP attention, the train driver also halted the train for another few minutes for Simba." Like a curious child, Simba barked at anything and everything that came his way on the window, Nikhil says.
On choosing train journey Nikhil says, if you have decided for a train journey with your pet, then I would like to suggest, "if you do the right booking, need right people, convince them, and write an application saying, I am travelling with my mother and a dog, so you have to give me a coupe."
There are three things to keep in mind:
• Do booking in a right way.
• Do not get panic at the station as you need to control the dog.
• You can call for an 'Ola', 'Taxi for sure' without talking about this incident
just say that you have a dog and see the response.
Delhi to Noida
The Duranto was supposed to halt at Nizamuddin Railway Station in the early Morning, so I called a very good friend of mine to the station to help me with the settling. Seeing a dog with us, we didn't had to do much to make our way, as watching him people made space themselves.
He goes on to add, "We had decided to first take an Ola or a Taxi For Sure cab but then eventually took a local cab and on the way to Noida, all through the DND, Simba barked as he got to see the new city as everything was wider and bigger and which was very different from his previous city Pune. On smoothly reaching our place, I gave extra money to the Taxi Driver, so that he could wash his taxi."
The moment Simba entered the house and sniffed everywhere, the room Nikhil wanted to take, Simba chose it for himself and the bedding (which he had put there earlier). Very easily, he adapted to the new place and is enjoying his new journey, tells Nikhil.
The behavioural pattern of Simba has changed a bit and he looks happier here in this house, maybe it's due to the space. We have more space in our home now and he can travel anywhere. The water here is suiting him a lot as the dark spots on his leg have also gone which we tried several times to remove in Pune.
As Nikhil tells, the society where we are living now has accepted Simba very easily and Simba has also got well with them. "Due to my working timings and mom's knee issue, we have kept a dog walker here who takes a meagre amount of money to walk him, as he is an overweight kid (all thanks to the love and affection of mom)."
For Simba, whoever gets water and food for him is like an angel and he will easily connect with him/her. Simba is such a spoilt brat and eats homemade food with the Pedigree from the hands of Nikhil's mom, and if for some reason she doesn't feed him, he plays with the food, but not eats. "When I say a spoilt brat, Simba gets his paws, bums, mouth cleaned thoroughly after eating, drinking and getting relieved," says he.
Whenever we have to go out, we put the AC and radio on, so he thinks at least someone is there in the home and sleeps throughout the day.
An incredible part this entire journey is "watching him seeing outside the train at such a mammoth speed of 100km/h."
On his experience he says, "I will recommend everyone to plan such holidays with their pets."
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