If you come to my complex and look skywards, you are most likely to spot me screaming profanities from my balcony. Before you open your mouth in shock, I suggest you quickly close it before a messy missile lands on your well moisturized face. In case you are wondering about the origin of the missile, let me assure you that it’s completely vegetarian and fresh from the bottom of a pigeon ass.
Seven years back when we had shifted to Gurgaon to our own apartment, I was more than happy to have escaped the simian population that had infested our pucca Punjabi calonee in Delhi. It was impossible to come out in the patio without having to encounter their monkeying ways – baby monkeys swinging delightedly from the washstand, their parents unwinding on a nearby ledge and picking lice off each other. I also had the pleasure of hearing my maid scream in falsetto, only to see an alarmed looking baby monkey sitting on my daughter’s sleeping back. Once when a bunch of them invited themselves for an impromptu feast from our refrigerator, my MIL promptly locked herself in the kitchen before pushing our cook out with a timely warning...Indar, Bandar andar. He realized much to his relief that it was not him she was referring to.
Gurgaon with its open spaces and greens was an antithesis. We were now staying in a high rise complex. The views from our seventh floor condo were stunning, the rain never looked better. Having a cup of tea in our balcony to the sounds of birds and wind chimes, the soft breeze caressing our face was sheer bliss.
The monkeys preferred to stay back in Delhi and I could finally sigh in relief. And not just relieved but also jumping with joy at the sight of the exotic birds I could spot from my veranda. Yes, the millennium city is a haunt for exotic birds. From parakeets to Asian Koels, to Bulbuls to storks, you can spot them all.
The bird community must have sensed the warm, welcoming vibes emanating from the Ray household. Soon our AC compressors became the favoured hangout zone for pigeons. We saw quite a few love stories unfold in our balcony. Singles ready to mingle meet, settle, passionate coupling ensues and baby pigeons make an appearance. My daughter even played Mother Teresa to an injured baby pigeon. She named it Cheep (from the baby sounds it made) nursed it for days and grew hopelessly attached to it. When it died she was inconsolable.
Our reputation had now grown in leaps and bounds. The news of our compassion soon spread like wild fire. We now had pigeons flocking on all our balconies, on the floor, on the wash stand, even on the bathroom ledge. Dumb, desperate creatures that they are, they even try nesting on our kitchen balcony floor laying down a bed of borrowed broomsticks.
The husband in an attempt to scare them off often splashes huge quantities of water at them, inadvertently giving them a much needed bath. In fact the other day he just said f... off and they actually beat a hasty retreat. Wow! We have managed an incredible feat: our pigeons can now actually comprehend English! Unfortunately they keep coming back for more lessons.
And where there are pigeons there is pigeon shit, loads and loads of it - on the compressors, balcony railings, wash stands, even my hapless plants are not spared. By the end of the day, my verandas look like a warzone. Of course I am upset, all these years and I have not been able to potty train these birds. Believe me, I’ve tried it all – from screaming profanities (yep, the same ones you heard from the ground floor) to urging them to hold their shit. If you don’t even have the decency to clean up your mess, learn to wear diapers you shit heads!
We now have a love-hate relationship with the pigeon population – they love us, we hate them. The birds share such comfortable vibes with us that they often saunter into our living room for their morning walk and poop on our carpet. The daring ones love playing hide and seek and lunge towards me from behind the curtains. If you find me dead, clutching my heart, you know who to blame.
All these years of shifting houses, each one has left an indelible impression with it’s beautiful memories and unique traumas. From musk rats, to snails crawling on the driveway, to cacophonous crows, to scary termites – I have braved them all. It’s time I reconciled myself to the fact that there’s no escaping them. And what if I am reborn as a pigeon in my next birth as some sort of divine retribution! Imagine not being able to poop in peace and braving abuses hurled at me by some demented woman! Scary thought, no?
I better start earning some brownie points and call for a truce. I think I’ll go outside right now, shimmy Shammi Kapoor style and sing Aajaa ajaa main hoon pyaar teraaa.....
Do you think the trauma will be enough to knock them dead?