There are all kinds of thieves in this world. Some are super thieves and and some, small timers. Some people like politicians do it openly with an ‘ I care two hoots of what you think about me’ attitude and some, stealthily, in what is called ‘under the table’ operations, and some more, on a day today basis, like people who pick pockets and chain snatchers wanting to earn quick bucks.
In Hindi there’s a song from the film Bhai Bhai which goes something like this —Is duniya mein sab chor hai, koyi paisa chor, koyi murgi chor aur koyi dil ka chor…etc. It means – in this world everybody is a thief, some steal money where as some steal hens and some, hearts! The song goes on listing many more kind of thieves 🙂 Whoever has written the lyrics must have taken inspiration from his ados-pados ( neighbourhood) because it’s a fact that everybody is a thief in his own way 🙂
In Pune, a few weeks back a person was killed and another, seriously injured while trying to catch two thieves. The thieves were trying to take away the pigeons that were holed up in their cozy coop, bred by the person who was stabbed and killed. Ganesh and his brothers had a coop next to their small house with about 150 pigeons in it, because of which all this happened.
Pigeon breeding is believed to be a common practice in Pune, particularly in slums and low income communities. People breeding pigeons are said to sell a pair for Rs 500-1000. I’ve no idea as to why people buy them or why they are ready to murder another human being for it. I’ve heard and read in books that pigeon meat is very delicious and some people who are in the Tantra-mantra business (black magic sort of thing) use pigeon blood for various purposes. (not first hand information, only hearsay) Ancient Egyptian texts are believed to have proof of pigeons being eaten as well as being offered as religious sacrifices. They were a favoured bird of the Romans. Pigeon keeping was often said to be a luxury of the rich and noble, particularly in France, where the birds of the wealthy landlords had the privilege of feeding on the commoners fields.
My daughter was living in an apartment in Pune, during her ‘ Teach For India’ days. There, I had the opportunity to study pigeons and their owners. Next to our multi-storied building was a colony of Group D employees. From my kitchen window I could see all the activities going on in that colony. When we were new there I never used to understand why so much whistling or different kinds of hooting and shouting sounds came from the colony. I used to think that these were ill mannered people, unnecessarily making those sounds to irritate others. How wrong I was! Slowly and gradually I understood what was it all about.
There was a person who had around 20 pigeons in a small coop. This man used to open the door of the coop around 10 in the morning to let the pigeons out for fresh air. The pigeons would fly away happily but not very far. They used to be somewhere around that place. After about an hour, the owner would start calling them back by whistling and shouting in two-three different ways. To my utter surprise the pigeons would start coming back, one by one and would be circling above the coop till all of them returned. After this, the owner would whistle in a low sound and the pigeons would come down to enter the coop! They were so disciplined! But we all know that every rule has an exception. Here also, there were two pigeons, naughty ones, who would not come down with the others. They would go and sit on the tiled roof and not budge from there, ignoring all the requests from their master. Finally, after a lot of coaxing they would join their team and the owner would immediately lock the door. There would not be a wee bit of change in this routine on any day.
This was a nice time pass for me as I chopped vegetables and cooked food looking out of the window. It took me almost 15 days to understand this daily drill of pigeons and their owner. The way the last two pigeons troubled their owner and the owner coaxing and cajoling them was the real entertaining part. It was also amazing to see how they responded to their master’s whistles coming back immediately. Watching this daily, I got so addicted to this activity that I did not want to miss it even a single day as long as I stayed with my daughter. Last year she vacated that house to move into another house. When I went to her this time, my memories of those pigeons next to our old house came flooding back, as I read the sad news of a coop owner’s murder by the pigeon thieves. No doubt, there are all kinds of thieves in this world.