Thursday, July 09, 2009

Flocking over Mumbai...

The endless blue sea, the strong sandstone Gateway balancing itself against the waves, the yatchs beyond, the paved clearing ahead, peddlers here and there, couples holding hands, families laughing, kids running about… and the scene suddenly broken by the flight of a flock of pigeons. This scene is a classic one, undoubtedly evoking Mumbai to people’s mind.

The white one among the black sheep

I don’t think these pigeons have consciously ever occupied my thought – till Mumbai. In Mumbai, they gain a significance other than the one above. Imagine this…

Once again, I am standing in the service area behind my bathroom looking at the mess the blasted pigeons had created. There is still one pigeon fluttering about in panic, trying to escape out of a window that had been wired precisely for NOT allowing pigeons in. And once again I would have to call the apartment help to take the bird out. Yes, unimaginable, but they keep losing their way within my service area and can’t seem to recognize that just because they see the open world outside, they still cannot fly out of a window that has been wired. Comic really, if u are in the mood for it. And once again I am swearing, “stupid bird”! This is a scene that plays over and over again in my flat in Bombay.

To keep the pigeons out, I wired the windows. They didn’t get the message started coming in through the vent in the roof meant for pipes. Then they began to build nests. I kept removing them, and they kept rebuilding them. Then they laid eggs, which is a stupid move considering I am likely to throw them out in anger. But by that point I’d given up. So now the blasted pigeons have their very private own area in my apartment. And yes, they are my constant company with their never ending guttural ‘ow ow’ cries!

So, when I landed up at the gateway for a photog enthusiast meet, I was surprised to find myself shooting the pigeons more than anything else. Or rather the scene around the pigeons. There are peddlers around the Gateway who sell channa (or some such) so people can have fun feeding the pigeons. It was amazing to see the joy on the kids faces as they tried to catch the attention of these birds (which by the way are spoilt for attention!) Personal irks aside, the pigeons are here to stay in this city - roosting in every crevice they can find in this concrete jungle or being fed by the endless tourists who land up to see the Gateway!

Father and son trying to feed the birds

Greedy pigs pecking of from people's hands

Excited kids!