If there’s anything I love as much as books, it’s adorable, furry felines. Although my sister and I have never had a cat of our own (since our dad is asthmatic), we’ve always had a natural affinity with the reincarnations of cuteness. I remember my fondness started very young when I was very little and used to (or rather try to!) play with a couple of stray cats that had taken over our family home back in India. My aunt used to feed them Indian bread and milk and they would never leave. Since then, I don’t remember a single year when our ancestral home has been cat-free.
It’s always heartbreaking to see such a large number of stray cats and kittens in our neighborhood and to feel the terrible guilt of not being able to rescue them and bring them home. A very commendable non-profit organization running solely by the wonderful efforts of part-time volunteers is Feline Friends Dubai, which has been around since 1991. Although Feline Friends (FF) is not a cat shelter, the donations they receive allow volunteers to rescue and foster abandoned or stray cats till they are placed in loving homes.
This weekend on Friday, I volunteered at the Feline Friends Book Sale at Times Square Mall in Dubai. What a lovely way to combine my two loves – cats and books! In fact, I’m kind of surprised why it took me so many years to realize I could have started volunteering with them ages ago.
More than 2000 secondhand books, CDs and DVDs were available at a steal for only Dhs 10/- which is a pretty amazing price. I chose to volunteer for the second half of the sale (from 3-7pm) and there were three other first-time volunteers with me who were equally voracious readers. We just had so much fun talking books, libraries and bookshops and suggesting titles to each other and looking over at the huge collection for what we could buy for ourselves. I thought that the fine art of reading was losing its touch in this part of the world but it was very gratifying to find that our customers were equally interested in buying as well as donating hundreds of books to support this cause. We received many queries on cat rescue and adoption as well.
On Saturday, FF was holding a cat adoption day at one of the local pet shops so my sister and I decided to go check it out. As a child, I loved looking at the FF page in the local newspaper every weekend of all the pictures of the sweet fur babies up for adoption and wishing I could bring one home. Although we didn’t get the privilege to adopt a little kitty, we had fun looking at them and hoping they would find good homes.
After leaving the pet shop, we went to a very cozy secondhand independent bookshop House of Prose which has been around for 20 years. We didn’t buy anything but it was rather fun to take pictures of its perfect interiors and I found myself wishing I were the proud owner of a similar bookshop.