It all started with a pudina plant. Now, this wasn’t any ordinary pudina plant. V had sourced it from my cousin NK, and claimed that it was some fancy, strong variety of pudina. He had managed to bring it all the way from Bombay – through the flight, and more importantly, through the Bangalore traffic on the way from the airport to our house. He spent three weeks nurturing it in an old jar until it was ready to be planted. Finally, two weeks ago, it was ready. He spent two hours preparing the optimal soil mix and planted it. He took a break and when I came home he built up what an awesome job he had done with the planting. Except, when we got to the balcony, it wasn’t there. All that remained was an empty growbag.
“The pigeons did it,” he yelled.
“Of course they did”, I said calmly.
I hate pigeons, and I’d been telling him for months that we needed to get rid of them somehow. But V loves birds (and all other creatures), and he believes in living in equanimity with all species. So he’d been ignoring me. He even went so far as to tell me pigeons are birds of peace, and accused me of being racist when I corrected him and said that ONLY doves were birds of peace.
I wasn’t going to console him. I needed him to channel his anger toward my cause of ridding the world of pigeons.
And thankfully, in the mental tussle that occurred between his love for plants, and his love for birds, the plants won. I was thrilled that I finally had an ally!
It soon turned out that the initial attack on the pudina plant was part of a much grander pigeon agenda. Over the next few days, they started coming more frequently, and they were now settling on the balcony as if they owned it. I resorted to screaming wildly at them every morning, but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect. Then, two days ago, our househelp brought us a pigeon egg she’d located in the balcony.
Now they were building their house in OUR house. I decided it was time to send them a warning and I got rid of the egg.
Unfortunately, it turns out pigeons don’t realize you’re declaring war if you get rid of their eggs. They kept coming back, and we couldn’t figure out what they were up to.
This morning, I discovered that they’d been stealthily building up a collection of twigs in one corner of the balcony. I immediately threw them out, in the hope that they’d realize we were onto their nefarious plan. Of course, it had no effect, and a few minutes later, we saw two pigeons settling comfortably onto the now-empty grow bag. That’s when we realized they’d decided this was their perfect nest, and that the poor pudina plant had lost its life to this ignoble cause.
I had to get to work, so I moved the bag to the opposite end of the balcony, and covered it up with a slab that was lying about so they couldn’t get to it easily and left.
I thought we were done.
An hour later, V messages me to tell me that he’d walked into the living room and found a pigeon flying about with something glinting in its beak. He frightened the pigeon into dropping it, and discovered that it was the central piece from this windmill-like souvenir I’d got from France. He could see the rest of the pieces in disarray on the shelf, but it looked like they were all intact.
That was it for me.
“THIS IS WAR,” I said. And then started suggesting methods to get rid of them once and for all.
Me – Let’s put rat poison in water and poison the lot of them.
V – No. That has large scale ecological impact. Some other creature will eat them, or they’ll decompose into the soil. The poison will have lasting consquences.
Me – Put honey on the balcony rod.
V – The only honey we have is what Amma sourced by sweet talking that farmer dude in Turkey. You want to waste it on the pigeons?
Me – Sprinkle pepper and chilli powder on the balcony.
V – It’s so windy it’s flying into my eyes and making me sneeze. This isn’t a pigeon repellant, it’s a way to ensure we can’t step into the balcony ourselves.
Me – Do you own a realistic looking fake snake? They’ll think its a real one and they won’t come.
(This is not a weird question. V collects what he calls ‘curiosity objects’ and that collection includes a realistic looking rubber lizard, and a scorpion. If anyone is capable of owning a fake snake, it’s him.)
V – I gave mine away before I moved from Pune because I didn’t want to accidentally scare you.
Me – Fine then. Shoot the damn things. THIS IS WAR!
(Again, this isn’t a random request. The last time V followed through on his theory of allowing all creatures in his immediate ecosystem to flourish, he was bitten by the rat he’d let occupy his house. Post a painful anti-rabies injection, he decided to wreak vengeance by shooting it with an air rifle. Remember, in his world the rules of jungle, and evolution apply.)
V – We can’t shoot it. It will explode into a ball of feathers, and the entire society will get freaked out.
Me (frustrated) – fine! What do YOU think we should do?
V – Simple. I will set up a trap and catch them.
Me – And how do you get rid of them once you catch them?
V – I will break their necks.
Me – OK that’s gross. Maybe you can get them cut and cleaned by a butcher, and eat them!
(Again. Not weird. V has eaten fried pigeon in Seattle as part of his unusual foods experiment)
V – No way! You don’t eat city-wala pigeons! They are all up in garbage and stuff. Ew! People eat the ones from the village, that only eat paddy and…
Me – (in an attempt to stop the unusual foods lecture that I already know all about) – OK, let’s leave it for now. You’ve rescued my souvenir. We will talk about it later. Let me get back to work.
About half an hour later, V heard a flutter in the balcony. Again.
He went out.
He couldn’t spot them at first, but then realized the pigeons had somehow managed to find their way back to the growbag. It was filled with twigs, some cotton wool, and one silver fish from my precious French souvenir.
‘Sapnon ka Ghar’, with French decor
The pigeons had left behind an open-air, hut-like growbag, and returned to find a new residence, complete with a sloping roof. They, of course, immediately pounced upon the opportunity to up their interior decoration, with French style accessorizing.
V sent me this picture on Whatsapp and I lost it. I told V to ask our landlord if he’d allow us to get nets to keep the pigeons out. I’d been resisting the nets forever because it’ll mess up our view, but I think it’s time to admit defeat.
Once the pigeons enter your home and steal your stuff for their home decor, they’re making themselves a little too comfortable in your personal space.
As I ranted about their guts and theivery, V sends me this message –
“Don’t worry D. For now, we will put up a net. But one day, I will create an alpine wala missile to blow up the pigeons. I will need protective gear while I make it, so I don’t accidentally shoot myself. But with trial and error, I am sure I will achieve the right degree of accuracy to blow up a pigeon. I will gift that dead pigeon to you.”
And that, is modern day love, and marriage for you.
You think Valentines’ Day is about flowers and chocolate?
No. It’s about finding that special crazy person who offers to use their scientific brain just to indulge your crazy, and kill one member of the species you hate the most.
You can keep your chocolates, and roses and fancy dinners. Because I know who I want on my side when the apocalypse hits.
Though, I must admit, I think that I have the dead pudina plant to thank for all this. I’m fairly certain the murder plot was hatched out of vengeance for that loss, and not so much out of the love for me!
Not-so-dear pigeons – You won. Enjoy you victory while you can (preferably in someone else’s balcony, and without decor from MY home!). You better watch your back, though. V will avenge his pudina plant (and me) by shooting one of your kind once he’s perfected his missile. Or, maybe, you will soon hear of how he ate one of your cousins on our next trip to Southeast Asia.