Conversations with Kabu


Call me Kabu.

Kabu ?

Yeah, short for ‘Kabutar.’

Really ?

What, I can’t have a cool name ?

Uhh… sure you can.

So, how are you doing, human ?

I’m hallucinating.

You are ?

Hell, yeah. I can’t believe I’m talking to a bird.

Well, it’s your lucky day.

What ?

You heard me.

Yeah, that’s the scary bit.

Ahh… a smart mouth. And a sulker. I have been watching you for the past half hour brooding in that chair. I was really tempted to poop on your head but I let this one go by.

Bad idea. You shouldn’t hold up your poop. Makes you constipated. Gives you gas. You’ll be miserable all day.

Funny. But your face speaks melancholy.

I didn’t know that pigeons could read faces.

Better than you think.

Fine, I’m a little out of spirits.

And why is that, my dear chap?

I guess I’m just put off… by difficult people, difficult situations, you know… life in general.

Wow… heavy stuff, man.

Sure it is… for an avian brain.

Don’t bet on that. This bird could give you more gyaan than your books.

Its funny how you speak of us humans as mere trifles. We could cook you for dinner, you know.

How do I break this to you… you humans are not scary. Some of you may seem intimidating at first, but if one is patient, sticks around, flutters about and explores deeper…

Like you ?

Yeah like me, I ain’t afraid of no humans !

Breaking news.

Aren’t you dripping with sarcasm…


Anyways, where was I ?

Stalking humans ?

I’ll ignore that. Like I was saying, if you observe these ‘difficult’ people long enough, you’ll realize they are not as scary as they seem. They are like the rest of you … a tad different, but not difficult. Just like no two pigeons are the same.

You all look the same to me.

Really ? You humans look the same to us when we are flying in the sky. Its only when we get close and sneak into your homes that we see you all are different. Some of you would run scared, some would get a stick and try and shoo us away while some would be more accommodating and let us sit on their window ledge and look around.

I have a friend who would run after you and shoo you away.

Then I would make a grand exit and give him shit before I leave, pun intended.

Tell me, what exactly are you looking for in our houses? I wouldn’t let you perch on my balcony and be privy to your voyeuristic escapades.

Voyeuristic ? Heh heh … I prefer to call it birdy curiousity. Come to think of it, you can’t even imagine the stuff I’ve seen. But don’t be so presumptuous my dear… you don’t exactly tickle my fancy.

Glad to hear it.

Even so, if I was sitting on your balcony, would you try to hurt me ?

Hurt you ? No. Why would I do that ?

Exactly.  Just like those ‘difficult’ people – they may seem unfair, they may piss you off … but they wouldn’t hurt you. At least not deliberately. In fact , after a while, you may even warm up to them.

That seems unlikely.

You better believe it. Difficult people as you call them, may find us pigeons irritating but they also sprinkle grains for us, click snaps with us at Trafalgar Square… hell they’ve even starred us in movies. Remember that Hindi film with the song ‘Kabutar jaa jaa jaa?’… Had a nice beat to it, don’t you think ?

No… but I would personally like to congratulate the lyricist for penning such apt lyrics.

I should have pooped on your head when I had the chance. My bad. Which brings me to my next point. Don’t lose your chances. Even if a window is just barely open, I sneak in to the house, loiter and litter about and have a grand time. So, always be prepared. And whenever you get the opportunity, snatch it. You may not live to shit another day.

You make life sound so easy.

It is easy, my dear. And you humans make it sound like a calculus exam. Let your dreams fly towards the sky, look at the world beyond your work. Don’t pigeon hole yourself, no pun intended. Catch the sunrise at a beach, dance in the rain, sing your heart out even if you’re completely out of tune. Don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. If people ignore you, make a racket, make some noise, be heard. Make your presence felt. Haven’t you seen us strutting outside your homes pouting our chests proud ?

But your presence torments us. With all the strutting and the fluttering and the gutter-goo near our windows.

Goo ? .. heh heh. Theory of relativity, my friend… some people may think of you as nuisance, some may be allergic to you while some would worship you.

That’s not what that theory is about. I get the point, though. But what if life swirls around and hits rough patches? It was never meant to be a bed of roses.

Have no fear, chappie. Some situations in your life may get shitty and scary but if you face them head on, look at them as mere stepping stones in your path, you can overcome anything. Think of them as the jackass drivers who scratched or bumped your car… you look straight at them, eyes blazing and move steadfastly to face them, don’t you ? You don’t avoid them or run away. Have you seen how we fly at the planes, not afraid of them or anything? For birds, these planes look like ginormous super aviators hunting for their prey. But man, your pilots are so scared of us… they know if we run into one of their propellers, you guys are screwed.

And you wonder when people call you guys a nuisance.

They don’t know us as well as you do now.

That’s true. You’ve given me some stuff to ponder about.

Whether you liked it or not.

Ha ha ha. You are very persistent. And a revelation. Thank you.

My pleasure. For ages, we have delivered love notes; in world wars we delivered secret codes. Now we deliver gyaan and happiness, for those down the spiritual roads.

And you rhyme too. A poet and a philosopher. In fact, if you were a human, you could be a big guru with a mass of followers.

No thank you, I prefer my superior incarnation.


I have to take your leave now. Will you think about what I said ?

I will. A conversation with a bird is hard to forget.

And keep that sense of humor, while you’re at it.

I’ll try. Bye.

Bye for now. Remember, keep flying towards your dreams, wear your wings proud and don’t forget your ‘f words’ – fun, flutter and frolic. Till we meet again. Peace.pigeon

Wrongs, righted.

Two speech bubbles drawn with chalk on a blackboard for Right and Wrong

Lose the weight, not a date or a mate ;

Doubt the mantri, not the santri ;

Fear farts in a closed lift, not the scary night shift ;

Envy your mates partying in lands sunny, not those making more money ;

Grieve your gasless past, not the wrinkle you found last ;

Anger the snobbish critic, not the annoying secretary at your doctor’s clinic ;

Hate the traffic jams, not the driver in front, with your bams and damns ;

Worry the rat at your work, not the one in house that only squeaks and irks ;

Regret history’s pillage and plunder, not yesterday’s embarrassing blunder ;

Destroy the cigarette butt, not the ants that unaware strut ;

Fight the lecture room slumber, not the competition to be a number ;

Manipulate the red tape, not your friends, to your future shape ;

Ridicule the cronies in a herd, not the harmless college nerd ;

Complain about the power cut, not the dogs in the night howl rut ;

Avenge for Maggi’s return, not to spite a rival on your turn ;

Punish the bribed babu, not a stranger trying jhappi ka jadoo ;

Reject the plastic, not a change drastic ;

Resent your frown, not the lady wearing the same gown ;

Discourage the guy licking your ass, not the tired walking on grass ;

Frighten your cousins with a spooky story later, not the helpless polite waiter.

So negate the wrongs and play strong,

Strike the gong and gather around ;

For this is the right song, if you sing along,

To find a way, to smiles abound.

Cricket, and then some…


I am no cricket freak – I’d rather watch endless re-runs of those infuriating telemarketing segments on yet another channel added on the cable than watch the Indian team being plundered by the opposition on Star Sports. But it doesn’t really help when you are living in a cricket crazed nation, when your own parents would wake up at 2 am to watch India play test series on a foreign soil in the Western Hemisphere, your mom was once caught in a lecture theatre with a pocket transistor listening to a cricket commentary, and time and again, your hours of blissful slumber on a Saturday evening are ravaged by a bunch of troublesome would-be Tendulkars and Walshes of tomorrow – my juvenile cousins, who’d drag you to the greens of India gate to play cricket with them, just because they’d require an extra player to complete their teams.

It was yet another Saturday evening and much against my wishes, I found myself out of the bed, getting ready for a game of cricket – that fateful ordeal, that third degree torture. That my cousins were giving me those bemused, triumphant looks, secretly congratulating themselves and thinking they were the cat’s whiskers, was irking me no end. Did I mention to you that, not only do I loathe spending my Saturday evenings dragging my exhausted body and overburdened mind in this game of eleven, but my cricketing abilities could enthuse a five year old with the hopes of making it to the Indian cricket team? What happened in the game today may seem delirious to some, but I have been subject to the age-old torture of seeing myself fail again and again, all these years, each performance worse than the last one.

We reached the grounds and divided ourselves into two teams – ‘India’ and ‘Australia’ (trust your cousins to come up with ideas like that)… I, for reasons best known to my cousins, was chosen to captain the Australian team. India won the toss and decided to bat. An eight-year-old cousin of mine was bowling from our side…the first ball was given a mighty sweep by the batsman and hastily put away for a four. Like a good, over – enthusiastic captain, who wouldn’t think of reprimanding her bowler in the middle of a match, I strode across the field to give a pat to my beaten bowler. Much to my surprise however, the bowler didn’t take it as well as I hoped… he gave me a nasty ‘you-don’t-have-to-tell-me-what-to-do’ glance and I bid a hasty retreat to my fielding position. Don’t ask me which position I was placed – I still have enormous trouble differentiating the on side from the off.

The next delivery was short pitched and the batsman tried to lift it up for a six.. But by grace, it was ill timed !…

“This is going to be a lollypop catch” – bellowed someone in the ‘Geoffrey Boycott’ lingo. But lady luck was not to be on our side… for, the ball was heading straight in my direction – the infamous me – the one who had dropped more catches than Tendulkar had scored runs.

The ball was coming towards me at supersonic pace (“lollipop catch” my foot!), my minus two dioptres of myopia was dropping degrees and crossing the pathological boundary… the ball was rushing closer, mocking me, as if it had a ‘catch-me-if you-can’ logo embossed on it. And just at that moment, my cerebellar (or is it cerebral) functions gave way, as I ‘past-pointed’ this spherical mass of brown leather, landing flat face on the ground.

The catch dropped, the ball’s trajectory broken, not by my hands but by some green patch in the outfield, I managed to get up on bruised knees, as the opposition chortled with glee, and my teammates’ “oh no-not-again!” groans played in the background score. Trying to bear semblance to a cross between medusa and Xena – the warrior princess, I roared at the Indian team to give their over exercised vocal cords some rest and stomped back to my position. “Play on”, I yelled (“The cheeks”, I muttered under my breath).

A few overs past, the Indian team was amassing runs…for reasons aforementioned, my side had sensibly decided not to bank on my talents and relieved me of facing the ignominy of demonstrating my bowling skills (“she’d probably give away all the runs in wides or no-balls,” I heard a smart one chuckle).

Third ball of the fifteenth over, the ball was whisked away by the batsman for a cheeky single – skillfully in my direction, who, from the looks of it, must be musing that I couldn’t throw a paper ball into a dustbin kept below my nose. Seemed, though, to all others, that this was a perfect opportunity for a run out…and so, they communicated to me, shouting at the top of their lungs.

Right, here was a chance for redemption …I ran with all might and managed to stop the ball just in the nick of time. With great effort and as much as my visual acquity allowed me, I threw that demon of a ball to the striker’s end as accurately as possible. Needless to say my ‘accuracy’ fell short of the range… well, too short.

I watched in horrific wonder, as the ball sped past a few metres (or ‘miles’, as I was informed later), away from the keeper’s gloves, towards the boundary. What was to be a run out, turned out to be bonus four runs for the opposition. Each member of my side looked in my direction, breathing fire…

“ Bull’s eye!” the opposition cackled.

“ Ok, so what?” I spoke up in self-defence. “ I am no Arjuna (that Arjuna was an archer and not a cricketer is besides the point) and this is no game of archery or dartboards that I have to hit the target right on! It isn’t my fault if the goddamned ball chose to take a different angle. And spare me the sarcasm, will you?”

And so the game started again… As more overs raced by, India’s team put up a mammoth total. Australia was put to bat and the chase began. Our Waughs and Gilchrists fought all the way and brought our score close to India’s target. Last over, penultimate ball, two runs needed and our batsman got out… I, the last in the order, came out on to the field to a deafening, jeering ‘welcome.’

Could I save the day?… I could already see the Indian fielders leaping in joy, and congratulating themselves, as if the game was already over. “Fools,” I thought, “ the last ball is still left – it could change the look of the scoreboard. Just wait and watch the master play !”

I walked onto the pitch towards the striker’s end, brimming with confidence, and wheeled around three-sixty degrees, trying to picture which direction to loft my ball in. Taking the guard, I prepared myself to face the ball. As the opposition’s pace bowler came charging in my direction, I imagined myself winning the match and basking in the glory that lay ahead.. When the ‘Indian express’ flung his missile ball at me, I raised my bat trying to intercept the ball with my bat, my eyes roving around in their sockets. Suddenly a flash of lightning zapped past my eyes…I was blinded as the ball zoomed past me hitting the stumps. And then, as if the world had come to a standstill, (to watch this spectacle, no doubt) I saw the stumps uprooted from the ground by the ball, doing cartwheels in front of my eyes, as my arms remained frozen in mid air.

“ BOWLED!” I could hear it like a thunderbolt from the sky – as the Indian team members ran towards each other in ecstasy, sealing their victory.

The match was over…I who was to be the match saviour, who was to receive endless praises and congratulatory notes from everyone, now had to make do with the endless moans and the painful groans and the hissing tones of my teammates, muttering some incomprehensible polyphonic syllables under their breath.

I am not a bad sport, oh no – you win some, you lose some, but this was ignonimous- a twenty one year old bowled out by a cousin more than ten years her junior! As I walked back home, my cousins competing amongst themselves on who could enumerate all the blunders I committed during the match, I could see the last specks of self respect being leached away. Never, never will I venture into a game of cricket, I told myself. Not for the wealth of King of Brunei, not even with toddlers playing with plastic bat and ball over a few feet of ground (my confidence levels have hit rock bottom). I couldn’t lift a bat or hit a ball to save my life… and never, never, I vow, shall I try to prove it otherwise, even if the world’s future depended on it.

Having heard explicit reviews on my forays into the game, ad nauseum, I have wisely decided to take a premature retirement from cricket, as any self-respecting individual would. No longer will my Saturday evenings be so worthlessly spent in the midst of such unrelenting critics. Three weeks gone, I take pride in the fact that I have successfully dodged all efforts and desperate endeavours by my cousins, including every form of incentive or emotional blackmail to take back my decision.

“Why don’t you play with us anymore?” my cousin said to me one evening. “ We miss you on the field.”

“ Yeah I’m sure it’s a great loss of talent for the world of cricket.” I snapped back, “And I’m sure you miss the comedy element in your matches.”

Snorting under his breath, he tried to keep as straight a face as possible. Eventually however, the balloon had to burst. The poor kid couldn’t take it any longer and exploded with mirth, running out of the room, writhing in pain with peals of laughter.

You didn’t have to be a brainwave to get the point. Adding insult to injury, this exchange of words, only strengthened my decision further. Having finally bid adieu to the game, I find solace these days in front of my computer. Not that the road to transition has been without its share of bumps. Dealing with a troubled mind, poked afresh periodically by my thoughtful cousins with memories of my royal defeat to avoid any possible retrograde amnesia and handling a battered ego and a bruised heart is no mean task, I assure you.