Posts Tagged ‘pigeon’

India in the era of andh wishwash

March 22, 2015

In these social networked times, it is possible to move around in circles one is comfortable with, read or watch only those mags, books, programmes and movies that suit one’s tastes (rather than watch certain kinds of stuff to fit in with a larger social group) and not feel isolated.  Per chance, an  encounter with the physical dimension can nevertheless bring home the reality with a resounding thud…and provoke thought.

Yours truly was whammed in the face with ground reality yesterday as I took a walk with my wife on the so called ‘Mini Seashore’, an artificial holding pond by the creek side in Vashi.  Along the jogging track, the municipal corporation had put up large boards with pictorial depictions of birds like….jungle crow, sparrow, myna, bulbul, robin, king fisher, flower pecker, kite, etc.  No boards to depict pigeons, by the way.

And yet, guess which bird was seen in the greatest numbers along with the humble crow?  Yup, the marauding pigeon.  I must surely not be the only one to have noticed that Mumbai is overrun with pigeons over the last few years.  And birds that I could once spot on the gallery or balcony (depending on which reference you are familiar with) like sparrows or mynas are seen more and more infrequently.

One of the causes of this is rising pollution.  But the other is the pigeons driving everybody else away, except, again, the nimble crows.  For example, said mini seashore is a much sought after green lung of the satellite city of Navi Mumbai.  Pollution is not necessarily the problem there and I have known the place to be less pigeon-infested even very recently.

What’s changed is somebody decided to use the roof of a public water dispenser to lay out grains for the pigeons to feed on.  We were talking about it and my wife mentioned some superstition by which the pigeon is regarded as a harbinger of good luck.  Now I am about as well versed in superstition as the evil Westerners are about the prowess of ancient Indian science…ahem.  So whether it is a harbinger of good luck or bad luck I wouldn’t know and wouldn’t hazard a guess.

What I can nevertheless observe is the proliferation of this ill conceived fad of feeding pigeons.  Where there was the one Kabutar Khana outside Dadar Station, there is now khana everywhere for ’em lucky ones.  It is questionable whether this fad is based on any reasonable logic and it certainly also imposes human intervention on the ways of nature…with very visible consequences.

The pigeon here is just a microcosm, a symbol of the changes sweeping across India, in which the heartland seems to have come to the metro.  Hurray for national integration, then!  Should I have seen it coming with the grand success of Kyunki saas…and its many mutations?  Should I have seen it coming with the success of several programmes devoted to astrology and the like on news channels?  Absolutely and I would say that I did.  But that I was able to maintain indifference and irreverence towards these changes until the thought of having to only spot robins on pictorial depictions hit me.

If you, whomsoever you may be, have read thus far and not found it a wholly insufferable piece, you must be a kindred mind.  The question then is what does one realistically do in such a scenario?  You cannot hope to have much success with convincing those who have convinced themselves that India did indeed invent everything under the sun before Mahmud of Ghazni stole our scientists away.  You can choose to join them and together all the flock of sheep may merrily sing, “Let us bray!!!”

Or you can choose what I had been doing ere the pigeon interlude and intend to continue to do so.  Stick to your guns but don’t fire them.  Be yourself but no need to trumpet it to the world.  After all, in the land of offended andh wishwash, said act could land you in jail.  But there is strength in numbers. Exert your choice.  Watch the programmes you find interesting.  Don’t just make a mental note to watch it while instead you forward the same cliched joke on whatsapp.  Read the stuff that stimulates your mind.  And share it to kindred minds.  These minds may in turn stumble upon other kindred minds.  And so the chain multiplies.

Consider that in the land of scientology, shows like House of Cards or The Americans are hugely successful.  Or that, the anti superstition PK apart, Bolly has been having a phenomenally bad run lately.  So there is hope…if you trust the power of the markets and overcome your very Indian obligation to please one and all.  You have no obligation to please a bunch of superstitious, jingoistic nuts.  Make your own road, fuel your own reality and let it compete with theirs.  Aa dekhe zara kis mein kitna hai dum.

P.S:  I do profusely apologise for the overload of snark.  But, you see, we the ‘anti patriots’ have feelings too and it is difficult not to feel at least a bit irritated by the deafening ‘I am offended’ brigade.  So please allow me the right to offend you a wee bit more, can’t possibly hurt.

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