Chapati: The World’s Most Adorable Traveler – A Canine Journey Across Borders

20 May, 2020 | Blog, Interviews

 

We are delighted to be celebrating our 200th issue by interviewing what is surely the most adorable traveller we have had the pleasure to discover! Meet Chapati, the Indian-Ukrainian canine who has been around the world more than your average human… For the record, not only is Chapati a NomadMania member, his travels have also been verified and so Chapati has his deserved NM verified badge!

 

 

Chapati, tell us something about your first years, about how your family came to be and how your mutual love for travel developed.

 

I met my human family when I was only about 3 weeks old. I don’t remember what happened before that and how I lost my biological parents, but the fact is that my new parents found me all alone and almost dying on the streets of Kochi (Kerala, India). They had just began their first big life journey and planned to travel through southeast Asia for around a year. Of course, they fell in love when they saw me, so some of their plans had to change after we became a family. Still, they had no way back to Ukraine at that point. And they couldn’t stay in one country for a long time due to visa restrictions. So, yup, I started to travel from the very first moments of the life which I actually remember. And at the moment it’s my real lifestyle. Of course, at times, I can enjoy relaxing in beds and sofas for days, but traveling brings my life energy to maximum and suits my temperament. I love meeting new people, I adore exploring, I enjoy watching what is happening around and I absolutely admire barking, growling and other methods of interaction with the world. All these opportunities are opened to me in maximum during the travels.

Around a year ago my parents made a DNA-testing for me and we found out, that I’m almost a pure Indian Indigenous Dog (aka Indian Native Dog / Indian Pariah Dog / INDog / Desi Dog), which means that my ancestors for around 15,000 years (or even more) were living on the streets, survived and evolved on their own, and they had a nomad lifestyle. So I believe that this is mostly a genetic predisposition and I’m just kind of lucky to bond with a family which enjoys the same lifestyle as I do. Still, I let my parents believe that this is their merit, cause they made a lot of fuss with all those “positive trainings” to accustom my love with different transport, new stays each night etc. I get treats for that! So, yup, I can get used to new surroundings and conditions only with a help of my parents Mum, where’s my treat for giving this interview?!

 

 

You come from India, but live in Ukraine now. Could you tell us about some of the differences between these two countries and how they have shaped your life so far?

 

My life was predominantly shaped not by countries but by the circumstances that changed it and gave me a pack. On the streets of India, I was doomed to fight for my life. But now I’m loved and have everything I need for a healthy and happy life. India and Ukraine are different in so many ways, don’t even know where to start from. My India is warm, Ukraine is quite cold in winters (but humans say that things change rapidly because of global warming). India is so crowded with people and animals, while in Ukraine you have plenty of space for your games. I think that Ukraine is more dog-friendly, especially in the capital, but again, not that awesome as Western Europe. The biggest difference is people, of course, their mentality, religion, habits, and way of life. It’s not about good or bad, they just differ and I think this is fabulous. Probably, in Ukraine people are not afraid of dogs that much as in India. But also, here in Ukraine, there are fewer dogs on the streets, which is cool. Despite that, dogs in shelters need much more support, care and love as here it’s still not common to rescue dogs from a shelter. Purebreds are in favor.

 

 

You have 31.6K followers on Instagram, plus around 8K followers on Facebook. This makes quite a big online community. What is your biggest goal in this regard and how do you use this fame to help others?

 

My biggest wish is all dogs to be loved, cared and treated properly. But this message is too huge and complex. For example, only a few weeks ago China officially banned eating dogs. Thanks Coronavirus, at least there is something good in it. But it was stupid to talk about this problem in my media, cause my audience are people who already love dogs. So the only thing I can really do is broadening the boundaries for those, who perceive dogs as friends and companions.

My mood is very changeable due to my temperament, but mainly I try to focus only on few topics in my posts. First is to show how cool and smart an ex-stray dog can be. Unfortunately, in my homeland, India, the majority of people are either scared of dogs, or intolerant to street-dogs. Many of them really believe that only a Labrador, German Shepherd or any other currently popular breed can be intelligent enough and can actually become a great companion for a human. As there are quite many Indians in my friend list, my main goal is to remind my Motherland that it has one of the most unique dog breeds on the planet. And it’s absolutely free, cause the streets of India are full of dogs. And most of these dogs are the keepers of an amazing gene code of an Indian Indigenous Dog. One of the oldest breeds in the world! Super smart, super healthy, amazingly sharp reflexes, extraordinarily adaptability! And, yap, incredible learners – even plain rice could work, as we are not that spoiled during 15,000 years of surviving on our own.

In most of my posts you will see my thoughts about the experience on traveling to different places. As for me, this is the most positive way to remind others that all dogs have the right to a full life. It also helps to maximize the awareness of how an ex-stray Indie becomes a sterling family member when treated with love. And, of course, we always try to show an example, that there can never be a reason for leaving your dog (in case of emigration or anything like that). If my parents, who have quite a limited budget, managed to take me out of India, then brought me to 30 different countries and still never travel without me – most can do it! It’s only about priorities. We just try to showcase it and looks like our method really works!

 

 

Not every country, city or place has the same way of welcoming four-legged friends. Can you tell us about some of the most surprising places you found during your travels?

 

That is true. The world still needs to become a better place for dogs, even those who are lucky enough to have their owners. Overall, Western Europe seem to be the most dog-friendly among the places I’ve been to. As about pleasant surprises, I’d name Serbia, Belgrade, in particular. I was welcomed to the majority of cafes, restaurants and bars my parents tried to visit. And also, there were so many dogs walking around the city and lots of them looked like mutts. I think it’s so nice when dogs are loved not for the breed they belong to, but for the temper they have and the love they give. I was delighted to see that kind of attitude in Serbia. To name a few more, Italy is really dog-friendly and it was a pleasure to discover its beauties. And also, Germany, Sweden, Denmark… but you’d expect it from these countries, I guess. Nepal was the biggest nice surprise in overall dog-unfriendly Asia.

 

 

Tell us about some of the biggest challenges you have faced so far while travelling?

 

Every seasoned traveler has stories about some kind of challenging moments, no doubt about that. And I’m not the exception, of course. Luckily, there were no serious life threats… just some awkward moments or sudden additional expenses. Here’s one interesting example: in the Philippines, we had a flight from Manila to Palawan island. Everybody who has been to Manila knows about the mess in the scheduling of Ninoy Aquino International Airport flights. All flights delay and you are lucky if you are not stuck there for hours. We came to the airport in advance to prepare me and my crate for the flight and go through all the registration procedures. After everything was done, I was taken from my parents and been kept for a while somewhere among passengers’ baggage. In some time, I was loaded to the aircraft as AVIH cargo (live animal in hold) as it was the only option to get on board. And only imagine my surprise when my crate was unloaded only a few minutes afterward and the plane took off without me! Luckily my parents weren’t there as they just…. missed the flight…being at the airport all time. How it’s even possible?

In Manila, it’s quite simple. My parents had been waiting for their boarding near a particular gate… but nothing happened for a while and the flight continued to delay. After an hour or so my parents asked the gate staff on the boarding time predictions and were told that the plane wouldn’t be ready for boarding for at least half an hour. Being in the airport for so long, my parents decided to take a smoking break and left the gate for 10 minutes, as maximum. When they were back, the boarding was already over and the gate was closed. As it was the last flight of the day to Palawan, we went back to the motel. And there’s nothing you could do in a situation like this. Thank God, we weren’t separated though.

Weird things continued to happen as we booked another flight. After we chose and paid for the flight, it turned out that the system booked both tickets for the same person, it made them absolutely identical. As we always double-check when we fill-in such important information, we still believe that it wasn’t a human, but a system error. As we tried to save money and used not that famous flight booking aggregator, there was no possibility to change ticket details. We had to get another one.

The next morning, we came to the airport and found out that the particular flight we booked tickets for was operated by the plane which wasn’t equipped to carry animals in cargo. Do you believe it? Only that particular plane had that issue and we were unlucky to hit it.

After having so much stress, we decided not to split and fully re-booked tickets once again to finally get to Palawan together, as a single pack. Nothing like this happened with us before or after… this story is unique.

 

 

What are some of your absolute highlights of travelling and what are some of the downsides and challenges you have faced so far? 

 

All our experiences are very special and we’d never want to change anything in that, except for spending more time in some places and having more time for all those journeys in general.

I would highlight the places where we found total relaxation, harmony and merging with nature. These memories are the most precious, cause all three of us live in full when nothing disturbs and when there are only three of us and nobody else. These places are also extremely picturesque. And especially I highlight those moments, when I could walk unleashed, which happens not that often due to my parents’ heightened concern about my safety. Just note that all highlighted places were visited by us during low seasons, so situation may drastically change if you visit them on the peak of touristic activity.

My top is: El-Nido (Palawan Island, Philippines), Sellin (Rügen Island, Germany), Thassos Island (Greece), Mljet Island (Croatia). You probably might think that we are obsessed on islands? And you are totally right! The biggest problems one might face in these places are the absence of qualified veterinary doctors and supplies, and lack of high-quality dog food (we always had to squirrel it with a margin). Speaking about the countries in general, I would definitely love to return to: my Motherland (India), Nepal, Philippines, Germany, Greece, Italy and Turkey (even though it’s totally dog-unfriendly).

 

 

These uncertain and unusual times have put us all on big pause, especially when it comes to travelling plans. How are you using this time and what are some of the things you are doing in order to compensate for not being able to travel?

 

Let’s be sincere, traveling can’t be substituted with any other activity. And during these times it’s even impossible to travel inside the country or just have a sightseeing in your city. Like nearly all the rest of the world, we are now a stay-at-home traveling pack. But our thirst of adventures results in us dreaming about future journeys even more than ever before. And, of course, we recollect memories. It’s the only relief when you know that you were meant to be somewhere in Finland today, but you see only those annoying four walls for the last 30 days.

Luckily, my parents recently decided to put a sofa right next the window, so I could keep a watch. And, yes, this is what I spend most of my time for. At least, some action.

 

 

Do you have a bucket list of your travels? What is your ultimate travel goal?

 

My parents usually discuss only those travel goals which can be fulfilled by our whole pack. This means a. reachable by our car, b. feasible in 1-2 months, c. matching our average budget. And there are only four travel destinations left, which suit all these parameters. This year we planned to cover two of them – a journey to the Baltic countries (covering Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Norway) and a trip to the UK (also covering Ireland, Belgium, Netherland, Luxemburg and more). Our next possible destinations are Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran. And the most ambitious plan so far is reaching Morocco via ferry from Spain, covering majority of unvisited countries in Europe.

The rest of the plans are only mamma’s dreams, which have nothing in common with our today’s reality. Still, her biggest dream is to explore all the Himalayas with me. She also romances on how we could cover the whole of Africa after reaching Morocco. But all we lack for that is money vs. time. We are not freelancers, so we can earn money only being in Ukraine. Around a year of working hard in Kyiv and then few months of travels – it’s our reality.

 

 

Finally, our signature question – if you could invite any four people (or furry friends), alive or dead, to dinner, who would you invite and why?

 

Seems like the hardest part, as I’m a truly realistic personality, so my demigods are only those, whom I really know. And it’s never a problem to meet them up again and again. These are mostly my family and some of their human friends.

I follow my own way, so there is no idol in the world whom I would love to meet in order to get any insights. My parents and other beloved creatures are here for that. Still, I have some questions to this world, so I would, probably, be happy to have a dinner with four groups of creatures, bonded by the question itself: 1. Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Gautama Buddha and other great representatives of world’s religions, who visited our Planet Earth in their body.

All God’s commandments are unshakably genuine. Still, all books need some editing after few thousands of years. Animals have evolved enough during these millennia and now it’s time to legitimize our souls and our rights. 2. I would love to see my biological mom and a human, who put me on that pedestal, where my parents found me. My current family perceives all this situation as pure destiny. But I would love to know how it really happened in the material world: why was I lost from my canine family and why was I put on an unreachable pedestal to die there? Who did it and why?

Was it a wicked joke of children? Or a small attempt to save my life by a person who was in a hurry and just wanted to postpone an inevitable traffic accident? I’m really happy about what happened next. But sometimes I truly want to know all the reasons and circumstances. Cause I’d love to know the real truth and whether my biological parents and sister-brothers are still alive! 3. A meeting with stakeholders of all airlines. Just to remind these guys that if we are still on the way of polluting the planet, all family members have the same rights. It’s stupid that a human who is 50 kg or 130 kg has the same price for the ticket, while only a dog which is under 5-8 kg can travel in cabin. Guys, the world is changing! And you are the ones who slow it down! 4.

Leaders of all of the countries of the world. I’m sick and tired with all this stories when humans poison street animals due to their own narrow-mindedness. And I absolutely hate all this “humane euthanasia”, so popular in Europe and USA, for all the dogs who don’t suit all these cooked-up rules. I’m sure that each dog is an individual with it’s own story, own character and own reasons for that. And it’s a real genocide, when people kill dogs due to their own inconvenience. But we are the same. All we want is to live and bring the best to our packs. You have the same purpose. We just speak different languages. But we strive to be good neighbors, we co-work so hard.

Please, at least, try to understand us too, cause we are always that open to you, humans. Yes, we have some dark sides. But what about you while facing life threats?! I believe that the relationship between humans and dogs is firm and everlasting. Cause we’d never find any creatures around the world who have so many things in common.

 

 

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