October 26, 2006

Visiting Dadar Kabutarkhana

I got out of Dadar station and passed under the bridge to the west before taking the left turn that runs past the Kabutarkhana where pigeons mill around in an open enclosure, feeding on grains that people toss over the waist high fence.

Further up, devotees visiting the Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi await BEST buses at the bus stop near the Kabutarkhana where, in the heat of summer, they step up to a coconut vendor behind the bus stop for tender coconut water (nariyal paani). The vendor sits under a ceiling made of mirror so when you look up, the coconuts stacked up on the floor appear to hang over your head. I visit the vendor for nariyal paani whenever I happen to pass that way.

As I began to walk past the enclosure that was fairly abuzz with busy pigeons I saw an elderly man hoist a young girl on the fence to enable her a better view of what the pigeons were up to. There was just about enough space for her to balance herself on the fence that ended in iron spikes set at regular intervals. She was oblivious of the spikes once up there on the fence, pointing excitedly at the pigeons and relaying information to the elderly man standing behind her, whom I took for her grandfather, and engrossed in what she was saying. Clouds inched past in the sky overhead as the sun beat down gently. I took this picture as a pigeon took off from the enclosure just then. The tender expression on his face as he looked up at the little girl, taking in her excitement, stayed with me long after I took the bus to Prabhadevi later that day.

It took me back several years, to another place, to another elderly man who sat attentively while I, all of ten years, held forth on cricket, sharing my enthusiasm for the game and the dreams I saw for myself in it. My maternal grandfather is no more, but occasionally if I’m lucky, like that day in Dadar, I see him reflected in another’s eyes.

Sometimes when I look back I cannot help feeling that they used to be simple days.