Lots of Sparrows and Losing the Sparrows

This was in Panvel Mumbai

It is a happy augury that lots of sparrows are seen these days on the trees, windows ledges of our house, The sparrows were becoming very scarce and the world was forgetting about them. I bet many of our children today having seen the bird. There is an incessant chirping to be heard in the early morning. It is hint from them that they are hungry and requesting for the food. We scatter the rice, Bajra and Jowar in the bottom of our windows. Lot of sparrows vie with each other for the food. They push and shove. Soon the pigeons also land and scare the sparrows. Similarly the squirrels come especially for Jowar. Sparrows dart away and scatter like bullets at the slightest sound or arrival of anyone of us nearer the window.

In the morning they are so desperate for the food that sometimes they forget that we are scattering the seeds, they come darting and get scared and without landing maneuver to fly away to safety on the trees branches in front of the house. The credit for all this goes to my wife who never forgets to maintain the uninterrupted supple of food from the market. In the summer, she arranges the water in small containers for the birds whose throats have parched in the scorching sun. They quench their thirst and eat food. There is plenty of seed and they don’t have to forage for food here and there.

But here up in North India where we were born and grew up before moving away for earning the bread for our families, once plentiful sparrows are gone somewhere away. About 35 years ago, there were so many sparrows living in our homes and in the evening there ensued a great cacophony in the boughs of the mulberry tree which was in the open space of our home. They fought with each other to occupy the best perches. They made nests inside the houses which were not pucca houses and raised their chicks there. I am very much surprised that there is not a single sparrow to be seen here now. On the contrary, hundreds of mynahs flock to sit on the ledges or supporting rods of the platform roofs at railway station in Chandigarh. So much so that if you go there to catch a evening train, you will hear a deafening noise of their quarrels for claiming the best beds for the night. Difficult to understand the changes occurring in the surroundings.

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Soaps on Indian TV Channels

There is a galore of soap operas on Indian TV channels. Prime time is hogged by women dominated serials and so called reality shows. The women shows are of Saas Bahu variety. The reality shows are dance and singing competitions. The concerned families in the women operas are extraordinary kind and generally dominated by a matriarch who seems to run a kingdom according to laws which are extra constitutional. Their writ run large in the home as well as the village they live in. In fact, the whole village is under their mercy day and night. At home, they have some spoiled brats through which they suppress the Bahus who like cows. But these poor women are clothed in the designer wear. Even the hair of the maids shine like the shampoo ads. These serials are so interminable that basic nature of many characters undergoes metamorphosis. Villains become angels and vice versa. Age cannot alter a speck of their face. You cannot tell the difference between a Bahu and Saas in appearance. If you watch these serials in mute you cannot make out who is senior in age. Even Saas looks hotter than Bahus. The target audience is middle class women which don’t have much to do at home. They become hooked to the soaps. Many become so immured in the serials that begin to confuse between real life and reel life. Cable operators love these operas not because they watch them but because these ensure permanent customers. These viewers discuss the operas and which turn the story is going to take in the next episodes with their friends on phones. This way phone service providers are also happy. These women watch the repeat telecasts of the serials which they missed at night due to overlapping of the broadcasting. You cannot dare to take the remote control from them while they are watching the television.

And who are the victims? No prizes for guessing the answer right. Men…………

Day & Night

God after creating the world,

Sat and watched his creation,

Like an artist who examines,

his painting from afar,

He then appointed,

two dyers to color his world,

One He called Day and

other He called Night,

Day has vats of countless dyes,

and colored the world with them,

Night only has one dye,

one dye called black.

He colors every thing black,

While Day creates differences,

Creates distinctions,

Night dissolves the differences

Removes differences and distinctions

Oriental Magpie Robin

I have noticed this bird many a times. They are particularly active during the evening when the light is barely present. They make very sweet sounds. The color of the feathers is black with white on sides and at the bottom side. It is slightly bigger than a house sparrow. Particularly it is very active in the evening catching the flying insects. If I am not wrong, I have heard their sounds at about two or three o’clock in the morning.

Little did I knew that this is the national bird of Bangladesh where it is called “Doel” rhyming with “Koel” the nightingale. It has been adopted due to its sweet singing. In fact, the bird belongs to passerine family which are perching birds and most of them are songbirds. That most of us take many birds, animals and trees for granted, we never care to know their names. Visually we know that it is a such and such type of tree: size, color of leaves and flowers, color of coat, beak and telons such like traits. The peasant does not know the names of many birds and animals living in the fields. This problem is very serious in cities where there is no way to know the names of trees on the roads because generally the trees are not named. Only in Dadar Mumbai I noticed the small metallic tags fixed to trees with the names prescribed on them.

My curiosity arose when an incident happened. There was a small baby of this bird which was floundering and was caught by an crow which are so mean and ruthless in killing and eating the weak and ill and injured. They are the efficient agents of Darwin for sparing only the fittest of the living beings like the nature. The fledgling was about to torn to shreds when luckily it escaped the clutches and fell on the ground. My wife who was looking at this drama, immediately rescued it and brought it to home. It was wounded in one leg and was not able to stand properly. We were at loss how to feed her something for its survival. I dipped its beak in the water and it reacted positively. Then I opened its beak and my wife put some water with a spoon. Then I thought that it must get some food but what?. We broke one egg and were able to push small quantity into its mouth. First night we left it as such in our bathroom. In between, we noticed that it was answering calls of its parents who were outside in the trees where they are the regular visitors. But during night we were worried about its survival. Next morning, we again gave it some food and wet its beak with water. Then we put it in a cardboard box in which we made some holes and placed this box outside in our balcony. Our surprise knew no bounds when we saw the strangest thing happening. In general, it is believed that the baby birds which are touched by humans are shunned by the parents. It proved to be totally myth. The parents located the child and began feeding it through the holes with insects. Whole day this went on. In the evening we purchased a cage from the market. It was very good cage but it proved useless for feeding. This was because the baby bird was sitting inside out of the reach and it would not budge from where it was sitting. It kept opening its beak and as the feeding failed the sharp noise of desperation was visible. We again had to put it the cardboard box.

In the night we brought it inside putting it into the cage. It was sleeping peacefully even as the lights were on. Due to care and feeding by its parents it became strong and there was great action it made inside the box to break free. In the next morning, I put it outside in the balcony and its parent began bringing the insects. It was making so strong efforts that it was coming half out of the hole. I began becoming ready for morning walk, but when before leaving for walk, I noticed that the bird has flown out. We looked for it in the outside trees where the marauding crows usually sit. After sometime we were relieved immensely when we noticed that it has joined its parents and was flying freely.

The bird is found throughout the world but most commonly in South Asia. It is not in the endangered list of birds but in Singapore its number has greatly declined.

Darkness

Darkness is a much maligned being. Everyone praises the light, everyone advocates in the favour of light. Especially on the occasion of Diwali, the most common refrain begins with “Let there be light……”, as if we are living in the dark till now.

Importance of light is due to the darkness. In fact they follow each other. It is only for darkness, we admire the light. The truth is that we have been blessed to see only a very narrow spectrum of the reality. It is a very narrow window in comparison to the whole spectrum. We are not able to see beyond the infrared and ultraviolet region. Only a minuscule window is available for us. Birds and bees are better off than us in this regard. Bees for example can see in the ultraviolet region. Birds can see in the lower frequencies than infrared.

In fact, the visible is just an iceberg floating in the sea of hidden or darkness. Dark matter which is counterpart of the visible matter is many times bigger.

Darkness is absolutely necessary for shutting down the process visible inputs to our mind. It forces the humans to sleep and rejuvenate the brain by giving it the necessary respite. Receptors especially eyes & ears are always receiving and feeding the information to the brain. They keep the brain busy. So the darkness helps to shut down these receptors periodically.

Everything exists in pairs in the universe. One is complementary to the other. Matter has antimatter, electron has positron, vice has virtue, Ravana has Rama, Yin has Yang, eggs have sperms, night has day as their complements. Think if everyone were good or everyone were bad, the evolution or progress will come to a grinding halt. Humans thrive on the competition, dominating others is in their blood. If it were not true, life would be so boring. Species will not have to do anything for survival. No one will challenge others as everyone will be satisfied and have no aspiration.

Panvel Railway Station

Panvel has a very important strategic location. It is a crucial link between Mumbai and South India. All the trains running on Konkan railways between Kerala and Mumbai and North India pass through Panvel railway station. Trains as important as Rajdhani and Satabadi are passing through Panvel. It is also the last station of Harbour Railways link between Mumbai and Panvel catering to thousands of travelers everyday.

There was a time few years back when only a few services operated on the local line. The train was almost empty till it entered the main Mumbai. Many passengers came sleeping on the seats. The situation was such that security  guards were posted on the ladies compartments.

The situation is now completely opposite. Both Mumbai bound and Panvel bound local trains are full to brim. If you don’t board them at the starting station, chances are that you will have to keep standing during entire journey.

This reason this has happened is the migration of thousands of families of working class living in the crammed shanties in Mumbai to New Mumbai.  Mumbai city is ever hungry for land. It gobbles whatever land comes its way. Skyscrapers are sprouting from the bosom of earth like the vegetation in the rainy season.  The rates in Mumbai are sky high and after selling even a small house one has enough money to purchase a reasonably good house in New Mumbai and purchase cars to ply as taxis or open some mart. But the biggest factor is some good space to breath after getting suffocated in Mumbai for years.   People are ready to undergo suffering due to traveling to far off Mumbai in return for the good living space for their families. So the introduction of  trains is the prime mover of all this change. The rates of property have begun rising in New Mumbai and Mumbai is extending its tentacles like an octopus.

But, the amenities at the railway platforms are pathetic. Take for example Panvel station. There are lots of passengers coming and going to the station. There is no temporary parking for the people waiting with their vehicles to fetch their relatives which get down at the station. There is a long line of auto rickshaws occupying the one side of narrow approach road to the station. On the other side, local buses come and go and stand there waiting for passengers creating a total mess. The scene in the night is even more strange. In the pucca place between the road and station, so many people sleep in the open. There are dogs foraging inside the dustbins. They shit everywhere. Donkeys squat amongst the sleeping people. In short, the station is bursting at the seams.

Talking about the approach roads to the station from local bus stand, from Hanuman temple near the city rest house, the road passing in front of Sai Baba temple, the less said the better. Take for example the road passing through Sai Baba temple, from main road to just short of the temple, the path looks like a hell. It is not a road at all. It is full of potholes. The inhabitants living on both sides in the shanties live almost on the path. They wash outside. They are almost sitting on the path. Children run here and there and before any warning dart in front of vehicles. It is irony that such conditions prevail near the Baba’s temple. So many affluent people visit this temple everyday but nobody seems to care because they come in the air conditioned cars with the windows rolled up. Baba who was the emancipator of the poorest of the poor seems helpless in this matter. Since he used to stay among the poor and downtrodden people, it may that the same ambiance has been created by not doing anything to alleviate the lot of these poor people.

Similarly the road coming from the highway near Hanuman temple cannot even pass for a road. It is in very bad condition. There are big sections which are totally the potholes. Businessmen are using the  roadside for parking the loaded trucks. These vehicles are battering the already threadbare road. Builders who are building the houses on the sides use the road to stock the building materials. After the job is over, nobody bothers to clear the mess they created. Big mounds of sand and pulverized stones lie on the road. These mercilessly damage the tyres of the vehicles. There are so many bumps and potholes that the vehicles as well as the owners groan with pain.

This is not the end of the story. Just at the confluence of all the roads leading to the station, there is big circular place between them. It has been totally occupied by the caravan people. They have pitched their tents there. Around the area emanates the smell of shit as these people have turned the whole area around into a big open lavatory. Administration seems to has turned a blind eye towards all this. Nobody seems to inspect the roads. The users of the road are paying taxes in turn of such badly conditioned roads. There is no sanitation around the station. It is all running by itself on a fluke or on a chance.

Peace is illusion

You don’t have to look anywhere outside for the peace of mind. You have to look inwards, within you, to diagnose what is causing the problem. Most of the times, we are aware of the reasons causing the heart burns, yet we are deceiving ourselves by avoiding the real causes and alleviate the problems. Things are not in our control many times. Heart does not forget the moments of bliss even trifles for that matter. It seems like an oasis in the otherwise desert of unhappiness and wants to cling on to it. But there are others who forget the things very easily. They are really blessed otherwise the events from the past will haunt you and gnaw at your heart.

To be happy or blissful, I think it is necessary not to try to learn much. Simple folks are really happy. The more you read, more you see, hear and talk, the more the garbage is collected in your brain. There are so many seams of the events and it is not easy to fetch or recall easily. The events jostle for attention in such mind like the passengers crammed inside a local train compartment.