Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Omen!


It is one of those days when there are so many things to do and I just have no desire to do ANYTHING! Thankfully, I do not have to be at work today.

All I want to do is curl up with my book and maybe drift off to sleep, if the book will allow that is!


Must be the weather and the fact that I haven’t been feeling very well for the last couple of days. Much as we are trying to hold on to the vestiges of spring, summer is slowly but surely creeping in. Delhi gets dusty at this time of the year as the hot winds blowing east from the deserts of Rajasthan lifts the dust from the ground that hasn’t bathed for a long time now.

It hasn’t been that bad yet – the dust and the winds- but the dry air is enough to make your skin itchy and flaky and to leave you thirsty in spite of repeated glasses of chilled juices ( that will surely see you heavier by a few pounds before summer’s end!)


Buddy, Ginger and Shadow are blissfully lost in their afternoon dreams. Buddy out in the balcony on the cool floor under the seater, Ginger on one of the larger floor cushions in the living room and Shadow in the utility room near the clothes dryer.








I haven’t quite figured out why he likes that particular spot but may be it has to do with the fact that the early morning sun, after it’s daily ritual of bathing that spot, moves west leaving it refreshed ,cool and shaded for the day. Also adjacent to it is the smaller of my potted gardens in the balcony I use for my gardening needs, which consequently remains far more untidy than the large balcony that is spotlessly clean not only because Buddy uses it’s floors but also it’s our coffee spot!

But from this little garden wafts in the smell of freshly watered earth that is so refreshing it gives you the illusion of being outdoors, which Shadow seems to relish.




Shadow, however, will invariably come lie down next to me the moment he realises I’ve settled down, pushing me with his head against my neck, for a spot on the pillow or the cushion.

Ginger will keep asking to be invited to join me, with sleepy half open eyes, as if she expects me to carry her over to wherever I’m settling down. I wish I could. How I miss that sprightly little puppy doll that jumped up into my arms at the smallest of excuses!!




Buddy, of course, will not budge from the large green balcony. Green because of the larger of my beloved potted gardens that he so seems to love. Unless I’m munching on something. He’d then come sniffing sleepily only to take his bite and go back to snoozing on the balcony, though he’ll keep shifting from the seater to under it to under the large bottle brush plant, trying to find a spot cooler than the last.




When I looked up at the sky this morning through the green foliage of my potted plants, I noticed it was that very beautiful shade of blue that is so elusive in our city due to the dusty haze that you’d have to google ‘sky blue colour’ to remember it, and even then you’d have nothing to compare the shade with unless you have a colour palette!

Even our mundane modernistic apartment building looked to me very much like one of those lovely Scottish castles from yonder years.








May be it’s an omen.

Such a lovely day shouldn’t go waste.

It certainly deserves a good book!







Thursday, April 10, 2014

When one can’t just flip a coin.









Now that Buddy is feeling so much better and his old bouncy – yes, he doesn’t run, he bounces – happy, sparkly self is re-emerging, my mind is slowly losing it’s thick layer of fog, letting in mundane thoughts. Also that the work of the conference is successfully behind me (I will tell you about it next but you must excuse me today for rambling about things I usually do not), so I can safely venture into a routine life that has eluded me for what seems like a hundred years!

Read on, because I do have have some interesting anecdotes for you, but if you must go, then please do so.



Why’s there this huge fixation on religion in our country? Much as we call ourselves a secular democracy there’s no denying the fact that the core of almost every and anything is stitched to religion.

‘Hum aisa nahin karte, hum yeh nahin khaate, hum wahan nahin jaate’ (We do not do this, we do not eat this, we do not go there). The ‘we’ invariably indicating a particular religion, sect or caste.

Being an agnostic, I find this unfathomable and rather irksome.

Take for instance the elections.

Every conversation leading to, surrounding it or remotely related to it is invariable tinged with divisive religious emotions like that is the most important decisive factor when you cast your vote and not issues like women safety or cleaning up our rivers. That one cannot express one’s dissent or support without being dissected mercilessly just because the audience in question at that moment happened to have opinions varied from yours is a very unhealthy situation. My Vote is ‘My Choice’ and it certainly doesn’t have to match yours. But right now in India, if you are from a particular religion or sect you are expected to unanimously agree with the general opinion and vote for a particular candidate or face ridicule and social ostracism!

The other day, I happened to take an auto to go pick up my car from P’s hospital where I’d left it the previous night. Why? That’s another story for another day. The point is, I took an auto and like I always do, I stuck up a conversation with the driver.

‘So, who are you voting for?, I very incorrectly came right to the point.

He wasn’t from Delhi he said, but from Uttar Pradesh, obviously queasy and hoping to avoid my question.

So isn’t he going home to vote?

No, he isn’t because it’s too far.

‘Why didn’t you get your Voter ID card here? The government had made things so much easier for voters this time. You mustn’t let your vote go waste. Don’t you want inflation to come down?’, I embarked on a lengthy mission to educate him about the dangers of not voting.

‘So, if you go home after all, who will you vote for?’, I can be quite relentlessly persistent, believe me!!

I guess he realised this, for he finally ventured, ‘MadamJi, hum to Samajwadi ko hi vote dete hain’. (Madam, we usually vote for the Samajwadi party’.

Kya matlab ‘dete hain’?

‘What do you mean ‘we usually vote for’? Who tells you whom to vote for? Have you not noticed the wreckage in UP? Are you still voting for Samajwadi party?

Almost in a whisper he said, ‘Haan, is baar to saare Hindu waale sab BJP ko hi denge’ unsure of where I was leading this conversation. ( Yes, this time all the Hindus are going to vote for the Bharatiya Janata party)

There it was once again, the Hindu –Muslim sentiment!

AAP ko kyon nahin?, I countered. (Why not the Aam Aadmi Party?)

He braked, turned back to look at me excitedly and asked ‘aap Aam Aadmi party ko denge, Madam?’ (Are you voting for the Aam aadmi Party, Madam?)

By then I was at my destination and escaped with a ‘Why not’, but he left me wondering if he was a AAP supporter and like so many common people had his hopes pinned for a much needed change on this new party with grand promises and if AAP can actually deliver.

Today is the BIG day here as Delhi goes to the polls. There has been no dearth of reminders to go vote –SMSes from the Chief Election Commissioner, radio, TV and newspaper inserts and even poll related paraphernalia for sale – hair and sweat bands, bags, cups, balloons, earrings, stickers and posters that will invariably be outdated at 6 PM today evening but this hasn’t deterred young voters with little knowledge of the political realities of India from buying and flaunting them.

With over 30 000 cops with the latest tech devices geared up to guard the Capital and extension of poll timings by extra 2 hours, Delhi is all set to go decide who wears the crown.

Only it isn’t all that easy for one to decide who one should ink one’s finger for!

There’s Modi and the BJP who have been all over the newspapers never for one morning letting you forget their promise of a safe stable government and women empowerment.

But loud vitriolic speeches that inspire passionate emotions of religious and castist division or that which take derogatory potshots at women from the opposition aren’t ‘safe’ and definitely belie ‘stability and women empowerment’. History shows that a leader who inspires inflammatory emotions of racial differences instead of calm confidence, peace and respectability can be perilous.

Then there’s Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.

The other day I happened across a FB update by a young volunteer at a local Animal NGO. She, on her way back from work, ran across RG at a traffic crossing in Race Course. It was around 10PM and Rahul was out with his three adopted street puppies for a drive, windows down and the three dogs sticking their delighted faces out into the cool night air. Before the light turned green and RG drove away into the night, the young girl had her moment of excitement chatting to him about the dogs and the work she does. Later, she couldn’t stop gushing about ‘the handsome Congress VP’ and declared her vote for him!

The Gandhi charm is legendary. It has long been rumoured that apart from its innate ability to fetch votes, it is also perhaps the single most important reason why the oldest and largest political party in India is irrevocably in awe of the dynastic Gandhi clan. The young Gandhi scion, with his charming dimpled smile and polished manners (not to mention adopted street dogs) could easily waltz into the hearts of and glean votes from many a young Indian voter but the likes of me who have had their hearts beating for nearly four decades now, know better. At least, we think we do!

As more and more Indians are getting to realize the damages done by dynastic governments (Books like ‘Durbar’ by Tavleen Singh that I’m reading at the moment haven’t helped matters for Rahul Gandhi!), the wish to see the loss of inheritance has deepened.

So then, one is left with AAP. The Aam Aadmi Party – the party for the common masses with its illustrious Kejriwal, grand promises of instant change, the immediate connect with the poorest of the poor.

A lot of expectations, hopes and optimism were associated with AAP till just a few months back. It still is – I’ve seen poor rickshaw pullers who hardly make Rs.500 per day make donations to party funds- but after it’s government’s 49 day stint in Delhi, I’m not so sure anymore. Too young to be written off, too young to be unanimously upheld and quite full of everything the common Indian has been vying to hear, AAP minus the histrionics, could be the choice of many an Indian.

But the key words here are ‘Minus the histrionics’!

So here one is, back at square one!

There’s NOTA of course, the provision of ‘None of the above’. (NOTA, introduced in the EVMs –Electronic voting machines- that allows you to reject all the candidates if you do not deem any of them fit for your vote but still let’s you exercise your right ensuing it isn’t misused by a proxy.)

Or maybe, one should flip a coin.

Oh wait! Even a coin has just two faces unlike the chameleon colours in Indian politics.

Well, all this pondering hasn’t made me any wiser. And I do need to go vote. It’s so hot outside. What am I wearing? Almost as difficult to decide. Sigh!




Thursday, March 27, 2014



Bud lounging

Buddy is 8 and 1/2 years old. He was almost four when he came to live with us. He must have been pretty confused about the big change in his life and definitely missed his earlier family because there always was a sad look in his eyes except when he was waiting for his meals!! The fact that he was always in his best behaviour always made me feel he was being such a good boy because he felt alien in his new environment.

He was brought up well (I’ll give his earlier family that, because Buddy is a very well adjusted boy) though not very well taken care of (his fur was a fertile home for a variety of ticks and fleas when he came to us!!). But love is all that matters to a dog, not grooming and the fact that he had known love definitely made it harder for him to let go. There were so many instances those days that made me cry because I could so clearly see how he missed his family.

He has come a long way since then. Completely at home now and though a ‘thorough gentleman’ still, he bullies me for table treats from under the table, snaps while taking a handfed treat, wants me to fetch his ball, wanders away to the far corners of the park and DOES NOT come when called. And I am so grateful for this!!

He is such a happy, playful, loving boy it has been tremendously distressing for me to see him depressed, irritable and extremely uncharacteristically snappy of late.

I guess I’ll just tell the full story after all.

Buddy was unaltered when he came to us. Ginger is intact too which posed a problem. She couldn’t go through the procedure because of a congenital heart problem and the associated risks with anaesthesia.

We didn’t want to get Buddy operated immediately as we wanted him to adjust to the new life before putting him through another stressful event. Then came Shadow. You know his homecoming story and how it was totally unplanned.

Then of course was the BIG shift to Delhi.

Finally, once we were all settled, Shadow and then Buddy went through the surgeries.

Shadow was up on his feet almost two hours after the procedure and recovered without a hitch.

But with Buddy it was another story. What should have been a very regular procedure turned out to be a very stressful experience for him.

It was in the March of 2012. Buddy reacted to the anaesthesia and had seizures on the table and also after the procedure was over. Immediately in the days that followed, he had severe generalised muscle wasting and weight loss with hair fall.

I had done my usual extensive research and back ground check on the vet. I always do that when it comes to my kids. The sad and very dangerous fact is veterinary practice in India is still not under the purview of the legalities that are applicable in human medical practice. In case of a casualty, the only compensation is the cost of the dog determined by the court. The vet in question cannot be persecuted!! What a defunct system in place! The rules that needed amendment decades ago still stand in place. How do you put a price on your dog, I can’t imagine!

Anyway, this vet I zeroed in on was a reputed surgeon, regularly made media appearances and ran a fancy clinic. He was attached to a shelter that took care of street dogs. Also he was expensive.

But as it is true in our field, so also it is true in veterinary practice – a fancy surgeon isn’t necessarily a good and humane healer. We were totally disappointed, especially with the post operative care that he meted out while Buddy suffered.

Dr. X simply tried to wash his hands off while my boy went on to develop a scrotal haematoma that simply refused to heal. Within a week Buddy, who was in the pink of health just till the morning of his very routine surgery, looked like a sick senior dog. What was infuriating was that Dr. X refused to entertain my queries suggesting in so many words that I was extra worried because I was a doctor and that human and veterinary practice weren’t the same! Like the basics of surgery and healing and nutrition are not applicable to a dog! Like it is acceptable for a dog to have a painful recovery!!

When , in spite of my persistent requests for further tests Dr.X kept on insisting Buddy didn't need any and sometimes this delayed healing happens in ‘bigger and older dogs’, I decided it was time to look for another vet. Older dog? Why, Buddy was just 28+ in human years! That’s youth!

May be it was the guilt or may be it was the anger, but I just made up my mind to get back Buddy into top shape as quickly as I could. I am a practicing surgeon after all. My boy certainly wasn’t going to suffer because his vet was callous enough to ignore his basic post operative needs. But naturally I needed to find out the subtle differences in between a dog and human physiology.

Those were the days, I started reading and researching extensively – starting from basic dog anatomy, physiology to complex nutritional problems, skin, hormones and post operative issues. Also I started hunting around for a new vet. Most importantly, I decided to put all my three kids on a completely Home-cooked diet.

You might not believe it but I couldn’t find one vet at that time that could help me determine a balanced fortified diet regime.

But I am not one who gives up easily once I’ve set my mind to something. Especially when it involves Ginger, Buddy and Shadow.

I read and read, the net, books, journals, publications, research papers and hearsay blog sites…just about everything I could lay my hands on. It felt like my medical exam days, the stress I was under.

But slowly, the effort paid off. The diet plan that I had in place seemed to do wonders for not only Buddy but Ginger and Shadow too. They were suddenly more alert, unwilling to sleep the entire day like they used to while on packaged food but insisted on playing till mid day! Their fur miraculously stayed stuck to their skin and actually glowed! Their bowels were softer and more regular, their ears and teeth probably didn’t need detoxing for they were far cleaner than they ever were. But the best part of all - their plates were squeaky clean within seconds!!

Buddy of course rapidly regained his strength. By the end of June, I could see my super athletic, happy, handsome boy in place.

A new vet saw him and asked me to continue the fortified diet he was now on. It was a lot of effort – packaged food is ever so easy to serve- but I decided to continue. Here my kids were eating all that they require without the preservatives and processing additives, and the results were so evident I simply didn’t have the heart to compromise.

They have been on an entirely home cooked diet ever since.

But even as Buddy regained his health and all seemed well at last, he still kept losing lots of fur.

Dr. Y, the new vet suggested a thyroid profile and his blood sugar tests.

Yes, his thyroid hormones were low and thankfully he didn’t have diabetes.

Buddy was put on thyroid hormone supplement (Eltroxin 150 micrograms on May 13th, 2013) Within two weeks his weight normalized, his shedding reduced and he seemed well on the way to recovery. Till Nov this year he was the epitome of health and fitness - great appetite, highly energetic, playful and alert. On our holiday last summer he even climbed the steep Himalayan mountains without a hitch !!

Then suddenly, this November I noticed he was beginning to get restless alternating with lethargy. Shedding wasn't that bad, in fact Shadow shed much more than him this season but there was something definitely bothering him. Initially I thought it must be the long hours indoors because of the cold that was making him depressed. But then he got up a number of times in the middle of the night (around 3 am!)panting and insisted on going for a walk. This was in January. He also seemed a little irritable at times, which was extremely uncharacteristic of him. His thyroxine was reduced to 125micrograms. He seemed mildly better.

By the end of February, he developed severe itching. No skin lesions, just itching. Oil message, brushing, diet fortification with salmon oil only helped as much. The itching though less continued. The allergy medications only made things worse because they dried up his skin further.

He developed a hematoma in both his ears that needed draining and bandaging. But like with his earlier scrotal hematoma, it re-bled and his ears soon swelled up. An aural hematoma needs repeated dranage and pressure bandage. It was heartbreaking the way he so completely trusted us to make him all right. Though obviously scared and in pain, he would let me and P drain his ears without much fuss and most times left the bandage alone. We were terribly worried. If the hematoma didn’t heal with drainage, medications and pressure bandaging, the next step was surgery under anesthesia which brought up the old fears of another allergic reaction. Thankfully, his ears slowly dried up.




They are thicker now which wouldn’t have probably happened had he been operated upon. But he is no longer in pain and I would any day chose a mild cosmetic deformity to putting him through another risk.

Then beginning of March he suddenly developed polyuria and polydipsia. Over just 10 days he lost a lot of weight and seemed lethargic in spite of a very healthy appetite and digestion. Also he started limping on his left front paw.

Suddenly, it was all like the past revisiting. What had gone wrong? Is he deficient in something? May be it was something I missed or over fed. Were the supplements wrong for him, is liver or kidney damage setting on? Or may be diabetes? What if he had developed some nerve weakness, brachial plexus injuries are very common in dogs with weak muscles. Though all the symptoms could very easily be explained by drug induced hyperthyroidism ( high thyroxine levels in blood than required) only the tests could tell.

That day, as I read through his tests I began freaking out. Everything was wrong – his liver, his kidneys, his thyroid, his uric acid, platelet counts.

P was out with the kids for their evening walk and when he came home, he found me in a state of nervous breakdown.

Panicky, he glanced through the tests and at me and started laughing. I thought he had gone mad!

That was when I realized how fragile I could be when it comes to my kids. Always so used to looking at blood values for humans, I had entirely and totally forgotten that this was Buddy’s test report. Veterinary values are far outside the human range!

How utterly silly of me!!

As I compared Buddy’s values afresh, relief set in. Almost everything that was slightly out of place could be explained by a raised thyroid hormone level.Stopping/adjusting the thyroxine would settle it. The biggest relief however was that his kidneys and liver are in the pink of health! And certainly no diabetes.

It meant I could continue with the home-cooked diet. Any kidney or liver problem and it would have been extremely difficult to put a correct diet in place.

Dr.Y put him on Cephalexin for his skin in addition to a few medicated washes and shampoos I’m to continue at home. His thyroxine is on hold since 9th.

Physical examination of his paw didn’t suggest any fracture, dislocation or nerve injury, so it is just hot fomentation, rest, joint supplements, a few pain meds SOS and WAIT & WATCH for a week.

I like Dr.Y that way. He and his colleague Dr.Z (they’re in joint practice) believe in minimizing stress for their patients. I am grateful they have been very kind to Buddy and perfectly understand what he means to me. Buddy seems to know. He loves the vet’s office. Of course, there’s also the fact that he is handfed treats by Dr.Y!!

His itching is 80 % reduced. Polydipsia and polyuria has miraculously resolved as soon as the thyroid meds were discontinued. He seems eager once again to jump, run and play true to his character only we are trying hard to stop him till that paw gets back to normal. Dr.Y has asked to see him next week which is when we will know if he needs any imaging.

Last few days have been exhausting for me, more mentally I guess, than physically. For the first time, I understand what one means when one says ‘I’m going out of my mind’!! I actually found myself forgetting all little routine things, confusing names and numbers and sugar for salt!! I went back to work on Monday and actually found myself wandering off my usual route while getting back home!!

One thing I’m grateful for is YOU. Your and your words of kindness means a lot, because I know you understand exactly how I feel. Thank you so much for being there. I know I should have written this earlier but somehow I couldn’t. Hope you’ll understand.



(Tired, in the middle of his walk. See how he leans on his right paw)



(Stopping him from running is a difficult task!!)



( Asking to be carried back to the car. P carried him a number of times those initial days to the car, a good distance away outside the park!)


Even as Buddy is recovering very well, I am a tad worried. It remains to be seen how he will adjust when his thyroxine is started. Also Ginger has been a little off. She is an extremely sensitive girl and takes to heart every change in emotion in any of us. The recent events must be proving rather taxing for her. She has been very quiet, preferring to lie somewhere on her own which is very uncharacteristic.



Even with her very favorite boiled chicken liver evening treat, she needed some coaxing. Shadow has been almost his usual self, a little mellow but still providing us all with much needed laughs. Amazingly, he isn’t bothering Buddy to play tug-o-war like he usually does every morning after breakfast! How they just KNOW, our fur-kids!





( Slowly letting him walk on his own now, still need to keep close watch in case he bounds off after a squirrel )



Please keep my kids in your thoughts and prayers. I am so hoping all will be well soon.

Thank you so much, once again.





Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Prayer for Buddy, Please?



My precious boy hasn’t been feeling well for some time now due to his thyroid related issues. Added to his allergy problems, winter isn’t always the best of times for him. But we were coping, and he has been doing pretty well till about two weeks back when things started worsening.

Since yesterday he is in pain with an acute limp in his left front paw. We will know for certain if it is just a pulled Biceps or anything else today evening once the vet sees him.

He had a very difficult night. He kept fidgeting around and asked to go out twice, once at around 2 AM and then again at 5 AM. He threw up once, may be due to an irritated tummy from the meds or may be due to the pain.

This morning , thankfully, the pain seems to be a bit less. He is much more alert and eager and he even tried to walk using his injured paw. Till last night he was barely putting that paw down.


Till Buddy was put on thyroid medications last year, he would seek out the sun in the hottest of days, unwilling to sleep on the floor but always finding the warmest corners in the house. The weather is getting warmer with each passing day. And seeing Buddy seek out the cool corners is reassuring. His meds must be working.

He is fast asleep now, under the sofa out on the balcony. It’s a relief to watch him sleep peacefully after last night and I am glad he has chosen to sleep on the cool floor away from direct sunlight. At least his thyroid function must be normal. We will soon know.




Your thoughts, any that you can spare for him are very welcome. It is heartbreaking to see my very athletic, energetic boy feeling down. We are all so worried and are hoping all his tests turn out normal.






I took the day off from work yesterday and I’m home today too. Right now, Ginger is paddling in the air gleefully, chasing some squirrel in her sleep. There is not a wince out of Buddy. Shadow of course will keep alternating between coming by and lying down next to me to taking care of everything that he imagines needs taking care of …. the cleaners outside, the birds on the balcony, the rustling leaves, the fallen flower in our potted garden, the occasional call of the hawker outside selling his wares, the street pups chasing something… you name it!

I might as well catch up on some lost sleep.




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014



“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”
Dalai Lama XIV




Have a happy week ahead,

Ginger, Buddy and Shadow



Pee ess: Buddy has been having some health issues for some time now. Because he needs extra care and attention we have been keeping rather busy juggling everything, including daily life. We want to discuss Bud’s problems with you, you never know what suggestion might turn out to be God-sent. But first we need to get down to writing everything and that is where the problem is. If only the earth decided to rotate a bit slowly and gave us a few extra hours everyday!!



Monday, March 17, 2014



I send you red, may it bring you happiness myriad

I send you blue, may it soothe and bring peace when you’re blue

I send you yellow, may it bring that dash of zest when you’re mellow

I send you green, may it brighten up your days and fill them with love evergreen!






















This is Ricky’s first Holi ( He only came back to India just under a year back) and this is what he painted to mark the occasion.





It sure looks like he had his share of fun, doesn’t it?


image-31ecbce16dadcb6b5c1c5338cb5c66f59da20f22262cb238b8f65c425580c899-V (1)






To those of you who celebrate HOLI….' May the hues of HOLI stay with you the entire year through and make your lives pretty and colourful’.

To those of you who do not celebrate HOLI, we send you wishes as joyous as the spring sunshine and hope the lovely spring colours will bring you myriad joy to last the year through.



Ginger, Buddy and Shadow





Friday, March 7, 2014






Our tiny weenie little pupster of a boy who happened to come into this world what seems like just yesterday turns seven today!

'I can't wait to be seven' is what he said on the phone excitedly  the day before!

'Why? What's going to change once you are seven?', Mummy asked.

'My best friend is already seven. I want to catch up', he told her.

It's amazing how they grow up so fast. Ricky, at seven is an extremely sensitive,compassionate, polite and intelligent little man. Hardly ever does he forget to ask after Sheru (our colony dog), the two girls at the gate and every other street pup that he had met while visiting us. He worries about Buddy's allergies, why Ginger looks sad in most of the pictures and loves to re-tell Shadow's story as a street pup time and again!

He wanted a dog for his birthday. But that isn't happening yet. So we got him what was second on his list (from Christmas! )- a bicycle. He's not as happy but happy enough, if you get our drift! It'll have to do for now.

Happy Yappy Barkday, dear little boy!!

(He doesn't like to be called little!!)

The world could do with more souls like you who we believe will make a difference.


Stay blessed.

Ginger, Buddy and Shadow



Ricky Bud 2


Ricky Bud


Ricky Bud1


Ricky Gin


Ricky Shad