Crows And Pigeons Of Mumbai
people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions,
their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. ~Oscar Wilde
In the city of Mumbai, there was once a rare bird, called Bugun
Liocichla. This bird was one of an endangered species, with the
only known population estimated to consist of 14 individuals in
Mumbai. This bird had two sons who were growing up and had started
asking him questions – on life, on conduct, on work, and on wisdom.
The bird was reputed for his wisdom among all the birds of Mumbai.
He had the reputation of being an ascetic who was not concerned
with material riches and was content with whatever little came his
One day his two sons, who were about to finish their education,
asked him what profession they should choose. They told him about
the popular professions that were being pursued by other birds at
the time. Of all the professions being pursued by the birds of Mumbai,
the professions of crow or pigeon were the most popular. Everybody
wanted to become either a crow or a pigeon. It is always safer and
more comfortable to do what many people are doing or seemed to want
to be doing. The rare bird listened to them and said the following
creatures are plentiful in the skies and grounds of Mumbai
– the crow and the pigeon. The crows scavenge through the
garbage and the pigeons make every building and pathway their
abode. Crows are noisy and pigeons make sounds like an echoing
ghost. Crows and pigeons don’t hate each other. Though they
have their own interests, their motives converge into one.
“Crows are the kings of garbage and pollute the air; pigeons
scavenge food others provide for them – intentionally or unintentionally.
Both usually make their living by feeding on and spreading
disease amongst birds.
“The crows are the
glamorous ones – they easily come to prominence with all the noise
they make. Birds like this noise and make a culture out of it. Pigeons
are the ones who work stealthily, keep in the background but poison
all the same. One crow is enough to generate a lot of attention
but birds don’t notice pigeons unless they are in large numbers.
Crows exalt in the garbage, proclaiming it to be the ultimate, considering
it to be the pinnacle of their existence. This they call fame and
success. The pigeons follow them, are their fans but feed on them
nonetheless. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Both need each other,
both feed on each other and on others. Nevertheless, popularity
and fame rest with the crows for garbage is what all the birds are
attracted to these days.
“The faces of these crows haunt one all the time, are ever present
in front of one’s eyes, their voices always being heard in some
form or other from various sources. Their language becomes the language
of the birds, their voice becomes the voice of most other birds.
Their acts become the acts of other birds and their thoughts become
the thoughts of other birds. They act as if acting is real and indeed
they proclaim this to be the real. Their followers too become actors
and their lives become a series of acts. Their influence is exerted
over large domains, across many seas. They attract, seduce, and
captivate the minds and hearts of other birds. Their poison spreads
effortlessly. They easily, swiftly and most naturally create an
army of their clones.
“The pigeons are ever ready to have their fill and nothing is enough
for them. Saturation does not exist for them. They want more and
more. They didn’t want trees, so now they have buildings made all
for themselves; carefully and with determination, they have covered
all space. They are the marketers – they sell and trade everything.
Trade is their natural occupation. They never do anything but trade.
They never possess anything that they can’t sell. Trade is their
religion and selling is their life.
“The skies of Mumbai are full of crows and pigeons. Indeed, they
want their kingdom to expand to the farthest shores. Pigeons make
tall buildings and crows have their faces painted on them. They
are the rulers of the skies and the grounds. They poison, trade
and sell and are bestowed with honors and fame. Their names are
well known, their voices recognized, they are loaded with honors
and fortune and exalt in their happy lot. Is it so surprising then,
that all the other birds want to be like a crow or a pigeon?”
The father, the rare bird, then continued, “Are you an ambitious
bird? Do you know what ambition is? It is the desire to become somebody,
is it not? And do you know what it does? It causes us to be against
one another. Everybody is struggling to be rich, to have fame, to
be more clever. You want to be greater than the other person and
he wants you to be greater than you. So ambition really means trying
to be something you are not. And which is important? To be what
you are or try to be something you are not? You must first look
at yourselves and begin to understand what you are. And then perhaps
you’ll never ask what you should do.
“Do not compare with what other birds are doing. Don’t try to become
like them, even if everybody else becomes like them. It is hard
for you because comparison is the basis of our so-called education,
and of our whole culture. Comparison is the most destructive thing
in the world. If you compare yourselves with others then how can
you find out what you are interested in, what your capacities are?
Don’t imitate, don’t try to become like anybody else, no matter
how great. It is you who are important, not somebody else. Find
out who you are.” The two boys understood what their father said.
No more did they want to be a crow or a pigeon. No more did they
want to become like others. No more did they want to become common.
They said to themselves, it is better to be a rare bird than to
be a well known crow or a pigeon; it is better to be an unknown
than a known poisonous creature; it is better to remain obscure
than to shine with artificial light.
Contributing Story Teller
Ashutosh Ghildiyal is a salaried professional based in Mumbai,
India. He was born in Lucknow in 1984, where he completed his schooling.
He completed his graduate studies in New Delhi and his post-graduate
education in Mumbai. He is the author of To Think or Not to Think
and Other stories (Book), various blogs and short stories. Email: