Every day from my 9th floor balcony I see many things. I see the runway with hundreds of big and small aircrafts glistening in the sun, I see the highway with thousands of cars whizzing past at frantic speed, I see the high-rises of Gurgaon gleaming with their neon signages, I see the metro slithering like a serpent mid-air.
I also see things that are a little closer than these, like the children playing right behind the apartment complex, or the labourers working atop the 10th floor building next door, the lovers walking hand in hand to the lone bench in the middle of the park on hot humid afternoons. But closest to me are the birds that come to my balcony and sit on my window sills every morning and evening (I can hear them even as I type this).
While I get to see many birds-- mynas, eagles, owls -- two that distinctly stand out are pigeons and parrots. They are not only largest in number but are also the loudest. What stands out even more is how different they are from each other -- especially when you try to get close to them.
A pigeon is omnipresent. You can give it food, pet it, and, in some cases, even hold it. It does not mind. If at all, it seems to enjoy the attention, and when you don't give it that, it comes to you looking for attention. However much you may enjoy this, after a point, you start getting a little tired: you want to be left alone.
A parrot, on the other hand, is not only shy, but maintains its distance too. I often hear flocks of parrots creating a ruckus and rush outside to see them, but can hardly spot any. I hang from the balustrade, I crane my neck in all directions, go from one balcony to the other but all I get to spot (that too occasionally) is the odd bright tail.
What brings out the difference in them most, however, is when you try to capture them in your camera. While a pigeon poses patiently for hours, looks into your camera -- even into your eyes sometimes -- and does not object to its personal bubble being invaded, a parrot is almost never available to you. It does not let you come close, it does not pose, it gets really offended even if you direct a lens towards it -- even from a distance -- and is gone in no time.
And while I can go on and on about them, I cannot help but wonder how there are parrots and pigeons among us humans too: the pigeons who are always around, to the extent of being overbearing, and the parrots, who are always elusive, to the extent of being frustrating. It is for us to decide what we want to be -- a parrot or a pigeon, or, perhaps a healthy combination of both.
P.S. Just when I finished the piece and stepped into the balcony, I see a flock of five parrots hanging from the ledge of the window. It was closest I had ever been to them. Without wasting a minute, I tiptoed inside and got my camera. Surprisingly enough, they sat still allowing me to click pictures of them, and, if it was not for the damn bomb that went off and scared them away, they would have been around for much longer.
Maybe they read my post too.