The flight of the sparrow



They say old-timers are leaving their cosy homes in Bangalore city for the suburbs. They would rather brave the long commute to visit, work or shop once a week than live amidst the noise and chaos. One rarely sees the silk saree-clad ‘maami’ of Malleswaram, the ‘thambi’ with ‘lungi’ at half-mast in Ulsoor or the impeccably dressed gentleman with long-sleeved shirt and faultlessly creased trousers of Richmond Town. And they aren’t the only ones who have moved away...

On a hot summer afternoon, at the grey, windy, impersonal Bengaluru International Airport I discerned a twittering that was at once familiar and yet something I hadn’t heard in a long time. Looking up I saw two small birds, happily perched on one of the supporting rods of the ceiling. Up there near the skylight, these sparrows had built their nest of dry grass and bits of cotton in a truly safe place.

I remembered how, years ago, the same species foolishly built nests in the most impractical places. At home, everyone desisted from switching on the fan during the nesting season. No one wanted to hurt the parents of the small spotted eggs housed rather precariously on the tubelight or in the cup of the ceiling fan.

The sparrow was often cursed for its poor site selection. It was a common joke that the bird had a death-wish and would soon become extinct like the dodo. Could anyone have known that it was a prophecy waiting to be fulfiled? Studies suggest that the polluted air, criss-crossed with cellphone signals has driven away the sparrow from Bangalore.
But Passer domesticus hasn’t become Passer extinctus. It has chosen to move to Devanahalli. The BIAL water fountain quenches its thirst and it is quite at home in the waiting lounge, despite the continuous use of cellphones and radar communication. Its presence here makes you rethink the ‘scientific’ reasons for its disappearance from the city. And then you wonder whether or not moving to the high-rise apartment complexes of Yelahanka or Sarjapura is a bird-brained idea, after all...

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