Sparrows in distant land


When I was a child, a lot of birds especially sparrows would visit our kitchen and search for small food particles. When my grandmother used to clean rice, a number of them would be around her to collect the grains of rice falling on the floor. Slowly as Bangalore became a concrete jungle, they simply vanished, making me fondly remember them off and on.

I visited Disneyland at Hong Kong recently. Midway through I wanted a break. When my wife and children went to see a show I found a bench beneath a shady tree. I sat there, opened my tiffin, took out a slice of bread smeared with chutney powder and started eating. Soon two sparrows came near me and stood at a distance.

Thrilled to see these long lost friends, I threw a small bread crumb at them. Both fought for the piece, but only one could get it. I felt pity on the second sparrow and threw a crumb for him. Soon dozens of sparrows landed near me from nowhere. I began throwing crumbs of bread at them. They would dive and catch the piece before it fell on the ground. Keeping the piece in their little beaks, they would take off not allowing the bread crumb to be snatched away by others. Those that didn’t get the bread would longingly look at my hands. The event was exciting and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Meanwhile the sight of me feeding sparrows attracted the attention of many passers by. A woman with a small child in a stroller came near me, handing over a packet of biscuits to feed the sparrows. She entertained her child and took my photos.

Soon the biscuits were gone and more and more sparrows were hovering by. The only food item left was a packet of ‘Congress’ peanuts I had brought from Bangalore. When one small piece of nut fell on the ground, a sparrow slowly got near it, smelt it, picked it in its small beak and flew away. Soon more sparrows landed. I made small pieces of peanuts and started feeding again.

I did not know how the time passed. Meanwhile, a big crowd had gathered around me. Some were taking pictures. My wife who had come back from the show was  worried as to why so many had gathered around me. She elbowed her way to my bench and when she saw what was happening, she muttered; “Now I know why you don’t want to see the sights of Disneyland. These sparrows must have migrated from Bangalore. That’s why they are enjoying the ‘Congress kadale kayi’ and you want to be with your long lost friends!”

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