Tag Archives: photo

The Nest

There’s a pigeon in my kitchen. She’s a lovely grey, if there’s even such a thing as lovely grey. It’s not silver, it’s just a clean warm earthy grey, accented by highlights and shadows from the sun catching her feathers. She frequents my kitchen window, and there’s a twelve-twigged hint of an upcoming nest on the parapet outside. I presume they have something to do with each other.

But today, for the first time, I find her inside my kitchen. She’s crossed the windowpane, a feat no other bird of this bashful species (or any species for that matter) has dared to attempt before. Somehow the birds always know to stay out of houses, even when windows and doors are left ajar. I imagine the thought of the imminent confinement scares them away.

And yet, and yet, Pidge the pigeon (I have decided to name her) is in my kitchen, stomping on the cold black granite with her orange claws, pacing up and down the kitchen counter in a hurry, like she has important business to attend to on the top of the fridge, but this can hardly wait for the important business that needs attention on the opposite end by the sink.

She stops for a breath every now and then, her neck’s purple green plumage vibrant in the sunlight, and cocks her head up to look at me. I must seem quite unthreatening to her, for she gets back to her many businesses immediately, marching across my kitchen counter, no time to waste.

***

I’m back in the kitchen. There’s the human standing at the doorway and looking at me. She lets out a low gasp at first, but I look at her and calm her down. She switches on the fan, and continues standing at the doorway and staring at me. I can tell she’s scared, but also curious. We’ve seen each other before, but always across the windowpane. This is the first time we are on the same side.

She smiles at me, and I can’t bear it. I think she’s named me in her head. The other birds warned me this often happens when a bird crosses the windowpane in the presence of a human. This, or death. I’m glad it’s the former.

My heart beats faster in my chest, and I don’t know what to do. I’m walking from one end to another frantically, trying to get my thoughts in order. I look at her, time and again. She seems calm now, her beautiful brown skin smooth as the insides of a worm on a warm summer afternoon, her black eyes darting across the room at things she’s worried I will kick over as I scurry around, trying my best to buy time.

She leaves momentarily, and I make the most of it. I rush to the clothes stand, and peck the fragrant pink towel as it dries, picking up each strand of her delicious black hair from it. There’s thirty six in all, and I carry them lovingly back to my developing nest, ready to spend the day weaving them in. They are weaker and finer than twigs, but smell like mogra some days and rose on others.

One day, when it’s done, I’ll invite her in.

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My Opinion On Opinions

I was probably around the impressionable age of six that day. Not unlike your everyday six year old girl in the 90s, I lived for two things – Barbie dolls and delicious food. And sometimes I’d walk around on my toes, wrapped in mom’s sheer dupatta and pretend to be Miss India. But it was mostly the food.

On the aforementioned day, I had accompanied my parents for dinner to someone’s place. I can’t recall whose house it was, but I do remember it was a newly married couple, because along with the memory of the incident comes a memory of a dozen red and white bangles jingling on a delicate wrist every time I was served food.

We were eating homemade Chinese. Terrible homemade Chinese. There was too much soya sauce in the Manchurian, the noodles were too thick and greasy and the whole point of the chewy chicken dish was destroyed with the amount of vegetables it had in it. After dinner, the host affectionately asked if I enjoyed my meal and I, full from the meal, decided it was my duty to now dish out ­­constructive criticism.
I let her know I was not pleased. My palette was not designed to enjoy the marriage of starch and soya she’d placed before me, nor was it created to have to bear with that rubber she called chicken (or whatever there was of it). I was like Gordon Ramsay on crack. Of course everyone laughed it off, but I felt the warmth disappear from the young lady’s hug as she thanked me for coming over.

There was an unbearable silence in the car as we drove back home. I kept trying to break it with a joke or a song, but the weight of it made me feel like I’d done something wrong. I asked. I always ask – it’s better than living off assumptions. So I asked my mother if I’d done something wrong.

“No,” she said, almost immediately, her voice tinted with disappointment. “You did something that wasn’t nice. If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.”

I didn’t understand the difference between ‘wrong’ and ‘not nice’ then. I do now. You might disagree with what my mother said to me that day. On some level, I do too. We’re living in an era of unprecedented freedom of speech and everyone has an opinion on everything, laced with emoticons and hashtags, ready with links and videos, efficiently packaged with technology to shove itself down the throats of unsuspecting consumers.

I recently watched a video called ‘My Choice’ by Deepika Padukone for the Vogue Empower campaign. It was mostly because of the barrage of negative comments that I decided to watch it. Words like ‘hypocritical’ and ‘urban garbage’ have been used against this video. It amazes me how people have so much time, to sit through something they don’t enjoy watching from start to finish, analyze it, form opinions on it, discuss it online, bash, shame, protest. Does this community not get exhausted complaining over and over again, making a fuss about things that were merely designed to make people who enjoy it smile and those who don’t, ignore it and move on with their lives?

There was recently a big brouhaha about a photograph that Canada based poet Rupi Kaur posted on Instagram showing a lady in bed with a blood stain on her behind as well as on the bedsheet, accompanied with words on the taboo in India around the topic of menstruation. Personally, I could not appreciate it. In fact, for the first time, I was unable to move on with my life after seeing something online that I didn’t agree with. What did I do about it? I could have written a 1000-word long post about how the reason I don’t discuss my periods in public is not because it’s a social taboo, but the same as why I don’t discuss my toilet habits. But before we begin to so vehemently oppose what’s on the internet, we need to consider that we chose to watch the video. Read the blog post. Listen to the podcast. Was the intent of the artist to piss you off? Because if it wasn’t, you really need to relax.

Life is too short to watch movies you don’t rejoice in, to read books you don’t find an absolute delight. Life’s too short to spend getting offended and complaining about art. Do what makes you happy, savor what you enjoy. Spread good energy.

You have the right to an opinion. You have the right to share this opinion. You also have a right to publicly complain about what you can’t appreciate, and shame those who do for their point of view. These can’t be classified as right or wrong. I just feel what we say online should be driven by the same set of rules that govern our offline interactions.

If you don’t like something, raise your voice.

If you don’t like something and the act of raising your voice doesn’t help anyone or leave anybody happier apart from yourself, ignore it.

If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.