Lately, I have a fan base among the pigeons. I started a bird feeder for pigeons. Luckily, there is no rule against it here, unlike Hiranandani Estate where they ban residents from allowing pigeons and plants outside your windows or flats. When I saw a group of pigeons hovering around, I was reminded of the kabutar khanas in South Mumbai, where the floors are always laced with jowar and hundreds of pigeon ghutargoo. I used to like standing and watching them eat there. It’s incredibly peaceful to hear them ghuttargoo and feel the breeze that fluttering wings create. I wondered if I could recreate the experience.
There was no pigeon feed in the kitchen. I pulled out a small bowl of rice grains and kurmura. The rice grains vanished in a few seconds. The kurmura or puffed rice was rejected. Until a merry white dove with a large pink beak came along. Either the dove was hungry or well, it had a preference for kurmura. It pecked the kurmura into oblivion. Well, here’s a bird that likes kurmura and it was pretty to watch, with it’s large pink beak.
I repeated the ritual the next day. Once again, all the pigeons stuck to the rice. The white dove, when it tried to peck the rice, was harassed by the black rock pigeons. So, it opted for the kurmura.
Now, I decided to get them some jowar. Oh, the pigeons came in hordes. Ten, may be twenty pigeons flew in from all directions. Jowar was the preferred feed. They went ghuttar ghoo; ghuttar ghoo. A family of white doves joined them. The younger white doves were now ignored as there was plenty of feed. However, the white ones did not opt for the kurmura, except for the one with the large beak, which did not look like it belonged to the family. Soon enough another large white spotted dove sailed in. Elegant with long neck, where flecks of black feathers were visible. It strutted around ignoring the rest with their heads bent, pecking at the feed. Finally, it decided the feed was good enough for it to try. As soon as it started pecking though, the other pigeons attacked its wings. And it flew off.
Discrimination is a part of nature’s survival guide. It tells you – are they different? Then, chase them away. They may get more food if they are not around. Are they attractive? Then, attack them. Are they injured or weak or disabled? Then, ignore them. Are they not like you? Then don’t accept them. God seems to prefer that they hang out in homogeneous groups. Well…I wish God would rewrite the survival guide.
God’s Revised Survival Guide for the Pigeons (a few pointers) –
- Don’t fight for food.
- Accept everybody. Let each eat what it can.
- Don’t hang around construction sites.
- Don’t think of cement or broken bricks as soil.
- Watch out where you peck.
- Don’t play with plastic.
- Don’t think that the garbage dumps are where humans put out their feed for you.
- Don’t build nests on buildings. The nasty humans might clean you out.
- Tall buildings are not trees and man is not God. He will destroy your nests and bee hives. He will also sell your honey.
- Be ready to eat what humans give you. As what you were given as Nature, was grabbed by humans for his fields and later factories.
- Humans will even use nets, guns and scarecrows to chase you out. So, learn to live amicably with them and wait for what they give.
- Always try to be on the good side of the human.
Of course, feeding pigeons daily has its drawbacks. Here’s a guideline:
- Make sure you have the right kind of feed.
- Make sure there is plenty. At least a bowlful and not a handful.
- Fix a time. The pigeons will come there daily at feed time.
- Be punctual. Else they will ghuttar ghoo till you respond in kind or feed them.
- Soon, they will think that you are a ‘dine –in’ and come at all times and ghuttar ghoo. They also have menu preferences, so be prepared to have your feed ignored. They will crane their necks left and then right and then peek at you with their orange beady eyes, pleading for more.
- Don’t feel bad when they ghuttar ghoo intensely and stare at you really hard and beg. Don’t melt, else your week’s stock of feed will disappear in a minute.
- Make sure your neighbours feed them as well. So, you feel les guilty when a few late comers straddle in. They can always hop over to the next window.
- Keep a little feed till the rest of them fly away. A few immature ones and the albinos or the mulatos (black with white feathers or the white with black feathers) will hang back. Then, sneakily spread the rest of the feed.
- Keep some kurmura at hand. You never know, which one prefers kurmura.
The old city had many sprawling tenements with hundreds of dwellers. In one such old sprawling tenement, in the heart of the city, a young boy dreamed big. His father was a clerk in the local civic corporation and lived on a meagre salary.
The boy had a few cousins, who lived in a large flat in an upper middle class area, as his uncle had a well-paid job in a private co. They rarely visited him except on a festive day.
When they did visit him, they were mean and condescending. They made fun of his things and even broke the few toys that he had.
On one such occasion, the children brought their own toys. But they wouldn’t let him play with it. As they said, he was a dirty boy. He felt sad but knew that they didn’t refer to his hygiene but to his poverty and poor living conditions.
He decided then that one day he would be a rich man too. He studied hard, and like his uncle, got a job in a private co. Soon he had a large flat, car and other luxuries. He got married and had kids.
He had forgotten the old tenement where he grew up. His close friend still lived there and one day, his friend called him for his son’s birthday. He took his kids for it. After cutting the cake, his youngest son refused to eat it. “There are dirty children here.”, the son whispered in his ears.
He collapsed in tears. He knew then that success was not about his flat or his car, but about the values he taught his kids. He knew his kids had not accepted him. His success had no meaning for them. They would never value his struggle or his early childhood poverty.
He sat down on the floor with his friend, instead of the chair provided for him. He took his youngest son on to his lap and slowly fed him the cake, telling him all the time that it was the most delicious cake in the world and that one day when he grew up, he would remember this cake and the friend who had given him the cake.
यह भी कश्मीर, वह भी कश्मीर
कितनी खुबसुरत वह तस्वीर थी
वह कश्मीर थी , वह कश्मीर थी
सदियों से छीपी वह वादियां थी
बादलों से घिरी बरफीली ऊँचाई थी
वह कश्मीर थी
वह गुल थी, वह गुलशन थी
वह कश्मीर थी
जहां नदी में तारे खेलते थे
झरने की कल कल से वह हँसती थी, खिलखिलाती थी
वह कश्मीर थी
वही बहती हुई नदियां, वही हंसते हुए झरने
उसकी मौत की ज़ंजीर बन गई,
उसकी लाश की कफन बन गई
यह भी कश्मीर है ,
यह अब कश्मीर है
वह गुल औ गुलशन, वह कली औ कलियां
सब बह गयी, कबऱ को भी साथ ले गयी
यह भी कश्मीर है ,
यह अब कश्मीर है
न रहे वह चीनार, न रही वह खुशबु
न रहे सेब के वह पेड़, न रहे सरसों के वह खेत
बस रहे तो रहे उजडे हुए चमन
रही तो सैकडो लाशों की बदबू
न बजेगी वहां सारंगी की घुन
न गुँजेंगे वहां सृंतृर के तार
जो रहा, वह है एक खोया हुआ सार
बह गये सब ख्वाब , रो रही है खुशियाँ
बह गया वह बचपन, बह गयी वह यादें
अब यह कश्मीर है
अब यही कश्मीर है
There is no precedent to this. The hills are collapsing. It’s a flood worse than Uttarakhand. We were warned then. We didn’t listen.
It’s a national disaster. The government must declare President’s rule and a state of emergency in Kashmir.
Kashmir will have to be restored, rebuilt and reconstructed:
फिर खिलेंगे वह गुल औ गुलशन, वह कली औ कलियां
फिर खुशबु देंगे वह चिनार,
फिर खिलेंगे सेब के वह पेड़, फिर लहलहायेंगे सरसों के वह खेत
फिर बसेंगे रंगबिरंगे चमन
फिर से बजेगी वहां सारंगी की घुन
फिर से गुँजेंगे वहां सृंतृर के तार
अब होंगे नए ख्वाब फिर से रौनक औ खुशियाँ
अब बनायेंगे नयी यादें
अब कश्मीर फिर से जागेगी, जीयेगी
अब कश्मीर में होगा पुन:विकास
Rains patter softly. Long drops
Of water laced with acid
The sun peeped a bit
Its rainbow and the
Pot of gold
His love invaded, striking suddenly
Emotions sang, danced
On giant waves
Foaming with loathe
A typhoon rocked
Emotions whirled, lost
Words stung. All barbs
Forgot to soothe
Sweeter than cyanide
My toxic cure
To love forever
Is Mumbai becoming more unsafe or are people just hungrier? Poorer?
I wonder…they snatched my bag the other day, so I wonder. A repeat of 1999 – 13 years ago they had snatched my bag , from the train then. This time, they came on a bike, reached out into the auto and snatched it and fled. Except I was a bit sleepy and couldn’t hold onto it, and had I leaned out I would have crashed out.
Strangely enough they dumped it on the highway somewhere. A kind soul found my ID cards, with phone no, scattered near a bridge, where he had stopped and returned them including my driving licence, pan card, etc. He called me and returned the cards.
But my belongings,a couple of momentos from uncles now dead, my wallet with pics of near & dear ones, all just disappeared. Sure, it was 11 at night, when the idiots snatched my purse and I reached the police station at 11-30 pm to file a complaint. Here’s what the police suggested.
Police: If you want to file an FIR, it will take 2 hours. If they get caught, they will go to jail and be released in 2 days. They will come after you, harass you. Instead, file a missing complaint. I was too sleepy to reason that out. So, I filed a complaint instead.
Well, I am still in a state of shock. These guys are out there lose, roaring on bikes and preying on people. I traveled by the same road, at the same time,a few days later.I did not see any police patrol cars…the road patch was still dark.
Too late now, to go and reverse the complaint and file an FIR. The auto driver gave witness. The guy who found the cards is willing to help the police. I doubt if the police will convert the complaint into an FIR. Why do police give such advice? I wonder.
The day was a sunny winter morning. The boats were lined up. The crowds were thick and increasing by the minute. Sunday mornings witness the local crowds as well as tourists from across the nation and the world.
Things at the Gateway haven’t changed much. There is a memorial to the dead. The crowds have an additional item to view. The tourist guides relive the tragedy every day, every hour.
The police finally rush to put up the blockades. Security desk is set up and bags are being checked. But, hey! Three quarters of the crowd were already on the other side of the barrier, including me and we got past without the police check. Some members of the group even had telescopic cameras and inflammable material. We were going to the islands for a trip, passing from very close to the defense areas.
Well, we shrugged and boarded the boat, with a ticket for ten rupees. There were foreign citizens with us. The boat sailed and the cameras started whirring. The boat ushers warned us to keep them away – we were in a high security area. The cameras disappeared only to be fished out again after a few minutes – sea gulls being a reason – nice shoot, these birds. Birds are always shot the best with telescopic lenses, as every photo buff will tell you.
Surely, telescopic zoom lenses are enough even at long distances to click the docks? Carriers 450 and 105 were fully docked – naval forces or crews perhaps, were on the docks, in a platoon, on the daily drill, with their backs to the boats carrying hordes.
We reached the jetty of the island. Tourist trade abounded along the jetty and the narrow approach way to the main square. Paths diverted, as we head out towards the wooded trail and the tourists go to the tourist spot. A little village lay at the end of the trail. Signs of an illegal brewery were strewn around.
Beautiful cement houses at the tip of the village. Painted by an expert – straight from the color guides…color combinations with taal mel; happy colors; all together in the few homes, which lay scattered there. Signs of a wealthy village were evident. A closer look behind revealed a narrow alleyway on a hillock with houses on both sides – much like the urban slums. A mongrel chased hotly by a collared white pomeranian, intent on sucking on its milk…hmnn…not an everyday scene. A healthier, well-groomed Alsatian appeared on the scene, eyeing the pomeranian hungrily. Another dog barked in distance, drawing an immediate response from the pomeranian – who ran off wildly, barking back. Wish I could understand doggie!
An old lady in a pretty ‘navwari’ walked past decked in heavy gold, with ear lobes down to her neck – grumbling, at our stares. A couple of youngsters walked past, with Bluetooth and the latest mobiles. A couple of them had headphones in their ears. An older man carried a loud transistor with him. Changing face of India’s rural yuppies… a few yards later, there was a bhoot bangla and another jetty. Tiny curves and caves, many places for hiding boats by the night – the kind that fuel drug trade or smuggle foreign silk from Pakistan and China – imported goods to be sold on gray markets – goods, which have hidden recesses for drugs…I wonder what the source of hidden wealth is – what the trees of forests hid amongst them – or was it just the tourist trade – the exciting colorful stalls with knick-knacks that were twice the rate on mainland – feeding mercilessly on the foreigners hunt for the bargain? The tired old couples were among the tourists, striding daintily in heels and peeling red in the sun – avoiding the numerous food stalls, which lined the public path.
One wonders whether we really care that we were attacked by terrorists not so long ago. Lots of prying eyes in the milieu – plenty of could be spies or maybe fugitives. Collecting data and storing it in their heads. Enough places to hide; to stay unnoticed for days on end….the chilling truth is that we just don’t give a damn – until the terrorists strike again, that is!