Dogs Rule Here

Dogs Rule Here

aditi and vishal kamat with three dogs and a parrot cover story dogs & more

There are no rules in this household where the dogs are concerned. Bubli, Peda & Tara can do what they want, according to their parents, Vishal Kamat & Aditi Limaye, well-known F&B professionals. There’s also Johnny, the African Grey who flies around doing what he wants

Text & Photographs: Farzana Contractor

A happier, more joyful household I have yet to find. I was simply blown away with the level of excitement, noise, activity and yes, happiness that I was assaulted with, the moment I stepped into Aditi and Vishal Kamat’s modest apartment in Shivaji Park area of Bombay.

The rousing welcome by the couple, their three dogs and a parrot was indeed cause for mirth. Even as I got through the door, Tara, the black Indie tried to yank my camera bag off, Peda, the Labrador was at my feet, nibbling at my shoe, while Bubli the largest and the toughest looking of the lot, a German Shepherd sat meekly and watched the drama. Then there was Johnny, the three-year-old African Grey parrot flying overhead, around the living room, screeching something I couldn’t quite catch!

“Do you really live like this day in and day out?” was the first question I yelled above the chorus of barking, to Aditi who was laughing away watching the pantomime. “Yes! And we love it!” she replied, beaming even more. Here indeed are true, most sincere dog lovers!

Talk about living a super dog life. There are no rules set. They can do what they want, they have the run of the house. Sit on the sofa, jump on the chair, lie under the bed, stare out of the window, chase Johnny all around the apartment if you like!

labrador and indie dogs playing

Peda & Tara

african grey parrot with vishal kamat

Tara & Johnny

johnny the african grey

Bubli & Johnny

Meet Aditi and Vishal Kamat, two of the most wonderful pet parents ever. Vishal who I have known as a baby-in-arm, son of Vidya and Vithal Kamat of Orchid Hotel and Aditi of the illustrious Limaye family, granddaughter of multiple award-winner Rohini Limaye, of Vikas Vidyalaya, a school for the hearing impaired. Aditi’s dad, Rahul Limaye is the successful restaurateur who runs Nebula and Gypsy Corner, places we have all been patronising for decades now. Aditi herself started three eateries, Open House, Sizzle House and Quarter House, all in Shivaji Park vicinity, which unfortunately closed down during the pandemic.

But Home Chef, her delightful outfit churning out the most amazing cakes, thrives. With time at hand now (in spite of the mini zoo at home), Aditi has taken to being a consultant and is in the throes of setting up cafés in Poona.

So how and when did all this canine love start? Well, let’s start with Tara, the most energetic and mischievous of the lot.

It was when Vishal was in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, overseeing operations at one of his properties, Lotus Resorts, when the cyclone Nisarg started brewing up and he had to catch a flight out in a hurry, which turned out to be the last one to land in Bombay. “It was very stressful, the whole experience, and I was happy to drive into my building, safe and sound. Just when I got out of the car, I saw this little bundle of black, under the stairs, lying there shivering, all of 15 days or so. Abandoned, alone. Without thinking, I picked up  the pup and got her home!” reminisces Vishal. “Which is a big thing,” adds Aditi, “because Vishal was never a dog person.” “True,” replies Vishal, “my first introduction to dogs and pets came from my wife’s side!”

As the story unfolds, it was before they were married that Aditi lost Sara, her first pet, a German Shepherd. So distraught was she by the loss that she couldn’t sleep in her bed or even stay at her own home, so she went to live at her friend, Nikita’s place.

Dr Karkare, the well-known vet, a good friend of her dad’s, advised him to get another dog as soon as possible and that is how Masti, a Labrador came into her life.

Soon after the Vodafone and the Pug era started, when everyone wanted to bring home a cute Pug, as luck would have it Aditi got a gift from her friend Deepa Manjrekar,  a Pug who they called Pugli.

“It was only after this, that Vishal came into my life,” says Aditi. “Yes,” says Vishal grinning away, “I got Masti and Pugli in my dowry when we married in 2008!”

As it happens Vishal was not the most pet-friendly guy and Masti knew this, wouldn’t allow him on the bed! But one day, while out for a walk, Masti was very badly bitten by another dog. “It was on the side of her stomach and she was really traumatised. Vishal also could not bear to see her go through the pain and thus started a change in their equation, Vishal became devoted to her. He really took care of her during this period and Masti not only noticed but appreciated this and they became good friends!” recalls Aditi.

But alongside there was another discovery, Pugli, it seemed was handicapped… she was deaf. She wouldn’t respond to firecrackers or other loud sounds. A visit to Aditi’s granny’s school confirmed the worst of news for them. However, with Masti around, Pugli seemed settled and became the epitome of a Vodafone Pug.Much like the network, Pugli would follow, wherever Masti went!

johnny the african grey with vishal kamat photoshoot peda and tara labrador and indie dogs kamats

When the Kamats were on a holiday in Bali, in 2016, Aditi saw a friend’s post. Apparently a beautiful litter of German Shepherds had just happened. Aditi’s mind immediately went to her first pet, Sara and she yearned to get one of them. But before she could even manage to utter the words, Vishal said, “No, three dogs in an apartment will be too much!”

But no sooner had they landed in Bombay, Vishal said, “Tell your friends to bring the pup home!” And he took Aditi shopping for a new pet bed and other titbits. Guess that’s how a good, loving husband should be! Bubli did bring new cheer to the house.

“But it was Masti who was really close to my heart,” says Aditi, “It’s she I would turn to whenever I needed to. I would talk to her and she would listen. So when she started to turn old and then became ill, it broke my heart. And I think it was her way of taking care of me and Vishal, that she chose to pass away in our absence, when we were both in America. This was in 2019.”

That was a huge loss for both Aditi and Vishal. And as life has its ways, while they were still away in America, they received an SOS. Their friend, Sonya Davkhare, was urgently looking to find a home for her puppy, a Labrador, since her little son had developed an allergy. They knew this was a fit. God’s doing. And naturally they got the pup home.

And named him Peda, because that was Masti’s favourite. Peda from the famous sweet shop, Panshikar at Dadar, no less!

So now sharing life with the Kamats during the pandemic were their darlings, Bubli, Peda and Pugli. And a new entrant, Johnny. “We call him our Lockdown Child #1,” says Vishal, who has amazing control over the bird.

Lockdown Child #2 turned out to be Tara, the ecstatic one! So happy that she was found by Vishal on the night of the cyclone Nisarg. Which meant there were four dogs and a parrot living in peaceful co-existence chez Kamat.

Unfortunately soon after Tara came home, Pugli who was getting really old and frail, couldn’t walk, couldn’t see, deaf the poor girl already was, started to fade away... Time came, in 2021, when she had to be put to sleep; a difficult decision but necessary.

And as it was always happening in the lives of Aditi and Vishal, when one pet was going away another was preparing to come in. And that’s what happened when Tara was found shivering under the stairs, a bundle of black, which Vishal lovingly brought home without a second thought.

Last I talked to Aditi, they were all having a blast in the swimming pool, built especially for Masti, in their home at Lonavala. Unfortunately the senior Mr Kamat, read Vithal Kamat, did not approve of dogs swimming at the Orchid Hotel pool in Bombay… “So it was necessity that made us make one in Lonavala!” And just for the record, Peda loves to swim, Bubli refrains and Tara  goes in only if accompanied by one of them. Johnny? He sits by the pool in his cage and he glares!

aditi limaye with her dogs and parrot dogs & more cover story

Aditi Limaye with her pets