Sankaran, our pet bird is neither a talking bird nor a friendly one for that matter. I was amazed to see a TV clipping about a parrot in Ernakulam, which learnt to speak Malayalam just by hearing TV show dialogues! I told Sankaran,“ Silly Sankara,see how one of your species is talking! Except for ‘Kyun, kyun & Tha' you don’t seem to say much!”
Sankaran has made me look around for other birds and watch their behaviour. Our neighbourhood, particularly, our mango trees, jackfruit trees and other shady trees attract many a bird, which are mostly unidentifiable to me. Am I becoming a bird watcher? What is the definition of a bird watcher? Should I read about birds? Should I take a tour to the forests? Should I attend workshops on bird watching? Anyway, I know my Sankaran- the green parrot with a red ring round his neck and his daily friends, the crows, and his enemies the tomcats and the garden snakes!
During our recent visit to Singapore, we planned a visit to the Jurong Bird park to fulfill one of my criteria for becoming a bird watcher. I expected to see the usual and unusual birds in cages. To my surprise the very first birds that we encountered were parrots- multicolored, green and red ones put in a spacious ground cage with a wire mesh canopy. One could walk in to be with the birds. No claustrophobia! I was mentally comparing them with Sankaran. There were at least 50 to 60 birds.
We were allowed to feed the parrots with honey and water mix. Of course we had to pay 2 S$ for a quarter cup. As Sankaran, my pet parrot, did not allow me to hold him or pat him; I wanted to at least feed these unknown birds. I held the cup in my left hand keeping it stretched for the parrots to come and drink. Two multicolored parrots came and drank from the cup. Wow, what a nice feeling, - the parrots were perching on my wrist and they did not hurt me at all. Being very small birds I did not feel them heavy too. I had a broad smile on my face. (I made up my mind to tell Sankaran about it).
One minute later, two red parrots came and started quarrelling with the earlier two birds for space. They wanted their share of the drink too. I was a bit scared, but held on to the cup and the four birds. Finally the red ones drove away the multicolored ones and were having a jolly time. I smiled once again. Ah, another photo with the red ones on my arm! (Hoped my husband did not miss to capture it in his camera!).
While I was enjoying every moment of this feeding, suddenly I felt so heavy with 8 to 10 birds landing on my head, shoulders and all over my left arm and hand trying to take a sip from the cup. (Were they really starved or just that they loved honey so much, which was offered as a treat by the visitors? Or was it their feeding time?).
I got terrified and closed my eyes fearing that they might poke my eyes. I thought,-“Are they going to shit on me? – Oh, no, I have to march to the wash room straight away.” All the while, my husband was trying to focus his camera to click a photo of me engulfed with a crowd of parrots. The parrots were too quick and flew away and only one was left on my head when he did click the camera. Still it was fun! Till the cup became empty, the parrots were with me. Fifteen minutes of bliss!
Back home, I showed the photo to Sankaran to make him friendlier. He replied,
“Kyun, Kyun (BIG DEAL!!)”.