Owlie is my niece’s blankie. He is the most insanely cute baby toy I have ever seen. I remember when I saw him, I wanted one. Woggles was so thrilled with him that Scoo promptly bought two more, another Owlie and Moo-moo. I’m hoping I might inherit one of them some day.

This post is, of course, meekly copying The Bride’s idea.

The first stuffed toy I ever got was a bear called, imaginatively, Teddy. (We got very imaginative in the middle, you’ll see.) I don’t remember him in all his glory–I only remember him when the felt has all worn off, there were holes in the fabric through which bits of sponge would fall out, his nose had come off, and he had buttons for eyes and well buttons. I don’t even know what eventually happened to him, but I loved him so much.

Shwetu was the next one. She was a baby with a walkie talkie and blonde curls that my aunt, from the US of course, gave my sister before I was born. It tickled me to death that she was older than me. She was very realistic and would flop pathetically if you didn’t hold her arms and feet in and support her neck. She has a hideous pink-green bindi on her forehead, and at some point I think my grandmother made her a dress to replace her ratty original white and pink one.

The third toy from childhood was Dapple Gray. He was a stuffed donkey–small and plaid, but we decided he was a dappled gray horse. Yes, really. And even when my grandmother recovered him in pink silk (!) cos we demanded it, his name stayed the same.

After I turned six there was a flurry of toys from the US–Roger, who was a black poodle, and Chingu, who was a panda. Only Chingu’s real name was Chingling Mingling Pingling. Then we got another panda, and a scary looking tiger, Mayling Chayling Payling (Mingu) and Tiggery respectively. I was terrified of Tiggery–I wouldn’t walk through the room alone when he was there. Both Chingu and Mingu needed reconstructive surgery every so often.

There were divisions, but Scoo and I shared most of the toys, except for the occasional really special one. Scoo’s was Acoon, a raccoon, who now lives with her in Oakland.

Of all the tons of other toys we had, including legions of Barbies with extremely inventive names (we kept a register with all their names cos each had at least two and a surname), there are only three who are still around. When my parents moved in 2002 I asked them to give the chest away because it broke my heart that all my toys just lay in a chest; no one played with them, talked to them or even looked at them!

Bear, a giant black bear, I acquired on a trip to the US. I remember flying Emirates back form Sharjah and carrying him on board–he was about half my size–and all the air hostesses cooing. He lives in my bedroom in Hyderabad now, and is trotted out to scare/amaze/amuse visiting children, especially if they are smaller than him.

Caramel is a smaller bear, light brown, who lived with me the first time I moved out of home in Hyderabad, and shares my bed now whenever I visit. He was The Bride’s favourite too whenever she slept over. I remember her telling me he was a perfect gentleman, and then the two of us giggling like lunatics.

Which brings me to the main man in my life, Apollo. Apollo is a St Bernard I have had for eleven years now. A then dear friend who stood in some sort of brother space in my life gave him to me when I was leaving for college in 2000. He was white and brown and had the cutest pink tongue that stuck out. You couldn’t see his eyes. I used to have him dry-cleaned once a year. Heh. Now he’s been squished and squashed and squeezed so much that he’s gotten flatter, the white bits are a dull grey, his nose has been peeled off because I have kissed it so much, he’s been cried into endless times, his eyes are visible, he’s had surgery at least once and he’s travelled with me to New York and now again to Delhi. He is currently giving me lumbar support. Every guy I’ve dated has had to come to terms with his presence and importance in my life. BBot loved him so much he demanded custody when I was in the US last year, and nearly didn’t return him.