Love in the times of pigeons…

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.

Pigeon nest in a grow bag

‘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. 


Of Ambition…

ambition: a strong desire to do or achieve something


‘Something’ could be defined in many ways, by different people. And yet, people at large seem to think it has a single definition, one that involves taking a single path and winning a specific kind of rat race that has been programmed into their brains. Even within that race, there’s a single defined method to win, often defined by gender-biased traits and behaviors. So even if someone is ambitious, they’re told repeatedly that they’re not, because they don’t demonstrate the requisite traits and behaviors.

As if one has to prove that one is ambitious.

As if ambition lies in the eyes of the beholder, and not in the inputs of the person.

As if ambition means only one thing, and couldn’t possibly reach where your imagination cannot.

As if my definition has no meaning if it doesn’t conform to your definition.

I am ambitious.

You are no one to tell me I’m not, irrespective of what I say or do. My definition isn’t yours, and it never will be.


Note: I’d love to say more, but everything I want to say, has been said here. So, yet again, Fuck Ambition. At least, your definition of it.


We are a startup, and so…

We will not use a single point of contact for communications with a vendor. Instead, we expect people to follow up with different people for different parts of the process, and those people won’t talk to each other. Let the vendor rework stuff multiple times, that’s simpler.

Our feedback will be as random as to suggest re-doing work in an entirely different style, when all we wanted was to make things darker. We will not put this on email, however, because we only give clarifications on the phone with no paper trail.

We will blame our delays on another external consultant, because we don’t want to take any ownership for any breaks in our (non-existent) process.

We will have a person who claims they are a sign-off authority, but whenever there is an unpleasant decision to be communicated, we will hide behind “our team thinks…”

We believe “empathy” means not having to take accountability for our actions. We will throw around the word whenever someone pushes back on us, to claim that they do not have “empathy”.

We will claim that there’s no one person over-seeing this relationship. However, the person will suddenly show up out of the blue just to send emails at midnight, based on one person’s word. We will not give the other person a chance to share their side of the hassle. Because, we believe “two-way empathy” is about us.

In short, we don’t have a process because we are growing and trying to accomplish a lot with minimal resources. If you have a suggestion on how we can work together better, don’t tell us because we don’t want to hear it.

After all, why should a startup have a process? That’s a big company thing. We are so nimble, we will instead communicate vaguely, go back on our commitments and approvals, and if someone dares question us, well, that just means you don’t have the empathy to work with us, right?


Of being offended…

These days, my blog is becoming a very rant-y place. If you’d like to read something more fun, I suggest going to the Wanderlust category instead).

Offended (adj): resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

The feeling of being offended is a very interesting thing, in that different people get offended for different things.

Some people don’t like it if someone swears.

Others don’t like it if people pull their legs or make jokes about them.

Still others may get offended just because they don’t like the timing of what you said.

It’s easy to say that if everything could offend, you may as well not say anything, because that way you don’t offend. Except, that’s another form of offense, too.

Sounds confusing?

It is. It is, because, offense, like beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. And many times, you can offend not by what you say, but how you say it. That’s why it’s so important to think through what you say and when you say it. You may not think that what you said was offensive, and you may think a puff of smoke blew away all the anger in the room.

But that may just be in your head.

Because, like I said, offense lies with the beholder and not with you. And therefore, when the beholder tells you about it, try not to get mad at them the second time. This isn’t about you, really, it’s about other person and why they felt what they felt, however illogical it may seem to you.

Listen, apologise (preferably meaningfully, if you are a big enough person), and help make things better. Remember. It may be nothing to you, but a lot more to someone else. Especially if they are in a minority to start with.

Just. Be. Nice.

And for those who watch this stuff unfold, and say nothing – you are a perpetrator, too. You are silent, and complicit, and you let this happen because you didn’t have the courage to stand up for someone who needed it. So if you think you’re ok because you weren’t involved, think again, and think hard.

You’re as much to blame as the other person.



Of metro rides and being independent

On Thursday, my personal space was invaded, and I was physically shoved.

My problem isn’t really with the fact that I was shoved. It’s also not with the fact that this happened at the metro turnstile, which meant that I wasn’t able to scan my card not once, but multiple times leading to a man (not the one who shoved me, or maybe he was?) yelling at me. Not once, but thrice in a row.

My problem also isn’t with the fact that I tried to call this entire experience to the attention of the metro staff and that they refused to try and isolate the perpetrator (I don’t know who shoved me, and whether their attempt was to shove me, or grope me). Forget the person who invaded the physical space, they didn’t even rebuke the guy who yelled at me for not moving fast enough for his liking.

My problem is with the fact that the female guard at the turnstile believed that if she apologized on behalf of the other passengers, I’d let things go. Even though she and her colleague let the men RUN scot free while I pointed and yelled that I wanted them stopped so I could change the person’s final destination from the railway station to the police station.

My problem is with the fact that the metro supervisor tried fobbing off the entire incident with varied excuses ranging from the fact that the lady officer empathizes with me “because a woman understands a woman problem”, to “excessive crowds to control”, to “we cannot do anything, Madam, passengers should behave like educated people”. The last was the point at which I stalked out of his office because I realized there really was nothing I could do.

My biggest problem, though, is that thanks to this entire incident, the next evening, I called V to come get me when I couldn’t find an Uber to get home at 8.30PM. I live 2 KM away from work, in Bangalore. I’ve lived for four years in Gurgaon, and I never once had to ask someone to bail me out of a situation.

I always prided myself on being independent, and I actually (kinda) like public transport. And yet, here I am, trying to decide what bothers me more – asking my husband to come pick me up, or driving myself to and fro the one location that’s best connected to my house by public transportation.

Bangalore Metro, you just made me lose a portion of my independence, and for that, I cannot forgive you.

Note: The best (and only) outcome of my kicking up a fuss was that the guards started yelling out a public service announcement at the turnstile – “Please move away and give the lady passengers some space.”

ET, when did you become a neighbourhood aunty?

Dear Economic Times,

Last I checked you were a business paper. That’s right, BUSINESS. I understand that conception and fertility are businesses now (and probably bigger than most other businesses), but that still doesn’t give you the right to judge those of us who are a “tad late” by your standards. Brilliant piece of reporting by the way, what with the use of that phrase, in addition to quoting “a research” that states whatever point you’re looking to make, with zero data or methodology or even a source. I’d love to know if this research was carried out by an intern in your office as a full-fledged summer project, or whether she came up with it over a tea break just in time for you to send the article to press.

I’m also curious by that photograph you used to illustrate your point – are the treatments and doctors you quote (good job with the subtle paid advertising gimmick Aveya Fertility and Cloud Nine group!), also guaranteed to give you the Caucasian skin the model in your stock photography sports? I’ve seen enough of these models in fertility clinic ads around town, so maybe the idea is to wait till one is a ‘tad late’, and then get a double whammy of fair skin AND a baby (or two, or maybe more because anyway one must be freezing ones geriatric eggs at 30)?

My favorite portion is your section on prenatal precautions, which tells me I HAVE to quit smoking, but I only need to ‘limit’ my drinking. Is this a concession for today’s generation? I mean, what is this limited drinking – how much do you think an average woman drinks, and therefore what’s the limit? I got my drinking chops in Gurgaon so I’m a “tad” worried that I may be over your limit. I’d also like to understand what are the so-call ‘acceptable levels’ for weight. Your esteemed professionals don’t really tell me this, just like they don’t tell me how I’m supposed to “keep my pre-existing conditions under check”. I assume they mean continue to take the relevant medication, but it sounds like you want me to will it away. I will try that and let you know what my medical practitioner thinks of my attempt.

Basically, you claim you’re telling me the pros and cons of my choices, but all you have are sweeping statements, generalizations, and enough quotes to convince me that the 3/4 of the page this article took up was paid for by these so-called concerned healthcare providers. By the way, did you consider the fact that the planet is already groaning under the weight of the people we have, and maybe, just maybe, not everyone needs to necessarily procreate?

ET, I think you should go back to what you’re supposed to do, and what you’re actually reasonably decent at, and report on business news. Dr. Shenoi and her ilk can work with other papers in your group, and maybe Aveya can be a part of the Ads for Equity program, given that they’re only a few months old.

After all, there are enough well meaning neighbourhood aunties as-is, without your having to take on the mantle of one.



PS: For those concerned, this is the article in question. The top search result leads you right to…surprise surprise – the Cloud Nine website. I guess there really isn’t a doubt on who’s judging those of us who are “late”, and how much they benefit from fear mongering to aid their business?

Of Despair, and Hope…

It’s weird how you can see a weird karmic cycle in a single day.

You wake up in the morning, and find out that something ended before it ever began. And then minutes later, you see a smiling face that gives you hope.

You go through half the day in a daze and realize you were upset, but you didn’t even realize it. You start to go into a blue funk. And then minutes later, you watch hope try to crawl.

You spend the entire day texting, trying to help in your own way,  while wondering how you could make this better. And then minutes later, you see pictures of hope from exactly a year ago, before this ever happened.

I am holding onto these little bits of hope.


Dear A & N,

I can’t say anything to make this nightmare fade. I wish I could’ve made this right for you, the way you always did for me. I thought dancing was the hardest thing I’d ever do for you, but what a fool I was! I wish things were different, I wish you never had to go through anything like this ever, I wish, I wish, I wish…

I wish so many things, but mostly I wish you the strength you’ll need to get through this. Here’s sending you all the strength I’ve ever built up (I only ever learnt it from you, N), may it add to the immense strength you already have. 

Love always, me.