Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The birds of Kanyakumari?

The Kanyakumari programme was held in a large field just north of the city. It was bounded on two sides by groves of trees. Sitting on stage, I heard what I thought were the calls of many different birds. The sounds were clear, distinct, varied, and came from both sides of the stage. It was so beautiful to hear this, and I was internally thrilled. Some were sounds that I had not heard before. Others were somewhat familiar – they sounded like birds from the US. The ornithologist ‘expert’ in me was delighted to make the scientific conclusion that because Kanyakumari is the southern-most point of the Indian subcontinent, it must be the destination of all kinds of exotic migrating birds. I proudly announced this to all within earshot –a few times at that, and everyone was happy to have such a knowledgeable person as a part of the touring group. I sat there on stage, feeling happy to have shared my insight. With each bird call, I felt more inner joy, and my ego grew, and grew.

But, something wasn’t quite right. Birds don’t call at all hours of the night. And the sounds were too close, too consistent, and too clear. Still, I continued to make my expert conclusions known. Then, after a few hours, I looked to the stage left, and saw the metal detectors. It seemed that the bird calls were strangely in synch as each person stepped through. There were no exotic birds to be heard. Just the cleverly designed metal detectors. Such is our minds. We mistake the rope for a snake…….

Sri Pati – US


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