Birds Brave Lockdown, Reach Pink City Jaipur

By Mohd Fahad

China’s fetish for jungle meat has put entire human race under lockdown for weeks to months. With nature pressing the reset button and reclaiming its space, leopards, deer and even elephants are having a day out in various cities roaming with pride on once crowded colony roads.

At a time when even Himachali mountains are visible from as far as Jalandhar sans pollution, why should the free birds be left behind?

Panchhi nadiya pawan ke jhonke, Koi sarhad na inhe roke, on the lines of Javed Akhtar’s lyrics, it is a sight to behold at Jaipur’s Jal Mahal pond, where Chinese bird ‘Coot’ has been spotted. The entire pink-walled city of Jaipur is under siege. Heritage marvels like Hawa Mahal, Amber, Jaigarh, Nahargarh are deserted, but who can stop birds from landing on Nahagarh’s domes, running on City Palace rooftops and chirping from Hawa Mahal’s windows?

While the Pink City is out of bounds for tourists, birds from countries like America, Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, China and Mongolia have been at leisure in Jal Mahal. Some have headed towards their native places before summer, but China’s ‘Coot’ is still seen floating in the picturesque pond surrounded by the Aravalli mountains.

In March few Taiwanese tourists, wary of the corona, were seen with signs ‘we are not Chinese’, but ‘Coot’ continued to float carefree in the crystal clear water. The lockdown has also brought tough times for thousands of pigeons, who were since ages used to be fed by the people.

At Jaleb Chowk outside City Palace, it seems as if a sheet of pigeons is lying on the ground. The pigeons, realising food isn’t coming their way, are resting with necks bent and beaks lowered. Whenever a lone feeder arrives, the pigeons don’t run away, but fly around and surround in hope for food.

Just outside the curfewed walled city near the Chandpol metro station pigeons have found grains sprinkled by some kind soul, but there is no water. Pigeons were seen beating their beaks in the water gathered on the roadside from the overflowed drain.

A social worker braves restrictions to feed these hungry souls. As the grains are sprinkled, pigeons hurdle together to finish even the last fragment lying on the ground. God knows since how many days have they gone without food? The worker says police stop me every day, when I go to feed them, they say, feed them at your house.

Only when I explained to them that pigeons assemble at their designated place and they will not come on the roof of my house, they let me go. “I haven’t got a curfew pass, but no matter who stops me, I will wear the mask and will go to these pigeons every day,” says the social worker.

Much has been lost in the silence of lockdown and curfew to let the humans survive, but post this crisis what matters more is that humanity survives too!

Author of the Article, Mohd Fahad is a Jaipur based Journalist.