G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Are Pigeons Rats with Wings or Man’s Second Best Friend?

During my childhood at Miraj, I saw pigeon only in a stock picture of Jawaharlal Nehru freeing it. Nehru all smiles, bird little scared, happy to be in the air instead of human hands.

I really got to see them only when I spent some time with my aunt, Kumud-mavashi, at Girgaum, Mumbai when I was already 23. At Girgaum they were everywhere like cockroaches. There was only one difference between the two. I did not see cockroaches making love.

For me, Mumbai was truly a sensuous city full of beautiful girls and women. So was perhaps the case for pigeons. But I was not as lucky as them. I felt little jealous of them.

I left Mumbai and forgot all about pigeons, as they never visited me at Nashik, Assam, Calcutta and Bangalore. When I came to stay at Pune in 1999, they were present in all their glory: eating, making love, nesting and generally dirtying the place.

Once we allowed them to breed just outside one of our windows. The place stank for a long time. Next time when they laid their eggs there, I pushed them over. The place I stay today has no pigeons in its vicinity. And guess what, no one from my family is complaining.

Sorry I have not been to develop any respect for these creatures.

Looks like I should.

NYT June 26, 2006 has an essay “Pigeon English” by ANDREW D. BLECHMAN.
“…Humans have had a particularly long and proud association with the rock dove. Pigeons brought news of the first Olympics in 776 B.C. and some 2,500 years later, of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. Charles Darwin (himself a fancier) relied on them to prove his theory of evolution; Julius Reuter built his mighty news empire literally on their backs; and perhaps most important, pigeons saved thousands of Allied soldiers during the two world wars. Keep in mind that a modern racing pigeon can fly 60 miles per hour without stopping for 600 miles and find its loft from a place it has never been before, and that the House of Windsor has proudly raced pigeons for more than a century.
And yet, in a matter of decades, one of the world's most venerated creatures and one of nature's most phenomenal athletes has been reduced to the status of vermin by governments on both sides of the Atlantic. The peaceful co-existence of man and pigeon has deteriorated into a war of attrition.
The bird's crime? Its gregarious nature. Pigeons are simply attracted to people as well as the company of other pigeons. Unfortunately, their unsightly and unhygienic droppings rapidly accumulate. But we really have only ourselves to blame: pigeons subsist on the food we drop. ….
One thing alone leads to an overpopulation of pigeons: overfeeding. Pigeons breed only when food is available. When food is overly bountiful, as was the case at Trafalgar Square for many years, pigeons will mate as often as possible — up to six times a year. When food is scarce, mating drops drastically as the flock anxiously forages for food……
Although some view pigeons as "rats with wings," we should keep in mind that they also bring joy to millions who appreciate how they animate our cities. After all, it's not Lord Nelson's column that attracts flocks of tourists from around the world to Trafalgar Square; it's the birds.”


Artist: Bruce Erik Kaplan The New Yorker 28 Feb 1994

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