Monday, September 12, 2011


While I waited for the bus in my Sunday best, it came; not the bus but a blob of 'crow dung' that landed splat  on my head. This wouldn't have happened if I had an open umbrella over my head (I often use this contraption to protect myself against spit-spray orators). Or if the crow were wearing a diaper.

Yet, my ‘crow’ning glory could be an aberration considering a recent report that talks of dwindling population of crows in the city. This was borne out by the local birdwatchers' rumoured plans to study the crows with embedded mi-crow-chips. A further proof is the fact that citizens offering Vayasam(feeding rice to crows) during Hindu rituals find no corvine patrons despite incessant cawing by the zealous worshippers, inviting the crows for the binge. But my raconteur friend tells me that the modern-day crows may only be found at their favourite watering holes - the Crow Bars!

The city's ‘crowlessness’ has become so acute that some of the crafty entrepreneurs are planning to start crow farms, dreaming of becoming Crow-repatis overnight. Through tie-ups with funeral priests, the likelihood of rent-crows-by-the-hour outlets mushrooming across the city appears plausible. And the term 'crow-ny capitalism' might find a place in future lexicons.

The last time I heard the song ‘jhooth bole kauwa kaate’ (crow bites the liar), it struck me as odd that the services of this bird has not been availed by our Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). I mean, there is no justification in spending a fortune on computerized polygraph  (lie-detector) equipment when the humble crow can easily do the trick by merely biting the liar on the nose. And the crows on our court staff can fast-track the backlog of cases by nipping the lie in the witness box.

People often believe that a crow's caw brings bad luck. At the root is the communication gap. For all you know, the crow in question could be amusing itself by humming a few bars of ‘Raag Darbari caw-nada.’ Alternately, it may be just saying, "Holy crow, where is my next dead rat coming from?" So, why can't a crow exercise its ‘freedom of caw’ without ruffling the feathers of bigots? And it is time that the civil society gave a sympathetic ear to this persecuted bird.

 So, it is to lend a sympathetic ear to this much-maligned bird that I decided to learn the crow language with the help of  ‘The Handbook Of Crow Talk.’ But I had to turn tail when I realised that movement of the tail - an appendage I lacked - was integral to crow language (turn the head to left and vibrate the tail to warn of danger etc). With that, my foray into crow linguistics came a ‘crow-pper.’ The project is shelved forever - unless, of course, I sprout a tail in future.

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