Stop Coloring, Pigeons!

Messenger/Homing Pigeons: 

The homing pigeon is a variety of domestic pigeon with an ability to find its way home over extremely long distances.Because of this skill, homing pigeons were used to carry messages as messenger pigeons. They are usually referred to as “pigeon post” or “war pigeon”. Pigeons would be taken to different places and they would fly back home with the messages tied to their legs.

  • Pigeon as War Hero:
    • In both the First and Second World Wars the pigeons saved human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines.
    • Pigeons were carried on ships in convoys and in the event of a U-boat attack a messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship. In many cases this led to survivors being rescued and lives saved.
    • One homing pigeon, Cher Ami, was awarded the French Croix de guerre for her heroic service in delivering 12 important messages, despite having been very badly injured.
  • Pigeon as Messenger:
    • The earliest large-scale communication network using pigeons as messengers was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. 
    • In Roman times the pigeon was used to carry results of sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, and this is why white doves are released at the start of the Olympic Games even today.
    • One of the world’s most famous news agencies, Reuters, started its European business by using trained homing pigeons. 

Respect and salute to these homing pigeons for doing an excellent job for so many years.  

In this blog, I have used pigeons merely as a symbolic representation. Representation of …………………………..

Read on to find out ! 🙂

STOP COLORING, PIGEONS! 

Pigeons used to be trustworthy loyal messengers carrying important messages from one place to another. The messages they carried, helped :

Kings to protect their kingdom.
Common man by carrying warning messages about danger.
Travelers in communicating with their fellow men.
People in distress by informing others about their whereabouts.
People in love by keeping them connected through messages.

These pigeons were carried to different places and they flew back home using their inbuilt compass mechanism. They were duly rewarded with food when they accomplished their task. It was a wonderful network and everyone benefited from it.

An accident that happened to one of the pigeons during a regular flight from a “romeo” in one kingdom to a “juliet” in another faraway kingdom changed history and the future!

“Romeo” did not tie the message tight enough and during the flight it fell into a large pot of scented oil. The pigeon managed to pick the message before it drowned in that pot. The strong smell of the oil left the pigeon a little lost. But since it was near home, he managed to deliver the message to “juliet”. “Juliet” was very impressed by “romeo” for sending the scented message. She thought that gesture proclaimed his love loud and clear. The messenger pigeon got an extra share of feed that evening. “Juliet” reciprocated by sending an approval for an immediate wedding ceremony. And the pigeon got a special reward during the wedding ceremony. 

Henceforth, the pigeon would dip the message in the oil whenever it flew that way. He enjoyed the extra love and attention he got in return.

The word soon spread and pigeons across the country started tactically sending aromatic messages across. It did lead to some pigeons getting lost whenever the scent was too strong. Those messages never got delivered. But whoever managed to deliver got good rewards. There were instances when wars between states were called off, thanks to the scented messages.

When the pigeons met, they congratulated each other. The pigeon which stopped the war was rewarded. Since pigeons can also differentiate between colors they decided to add a little color to the messages that they carried. Different dyeing units were identified by the pigeons along their line of operation for this purpose. They had to be careful about not getting into the ultraviolet spectrum.(pigeons can see the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum)

From that day, the simple messages that were sent by kings, travelers, doctors, romeos etc started getting delivered with a little extra scent and color. The irony being that the sender had no control on the color or scent because the pigeon would decide the stop points on-the-go, depending on the water and food available near the dipping units.

The odored, colored messages would sometimes even be flavored.

There were instances when instead of dipping the message in red dye, pigeons by mistake would dip it in chili sauce. This lead to wars and heartbreaks.

Some pigeons realized their mistake and got back to delivering plain messages. But people had got used to getting colorful scented flavored messages. They slowly stopped using those pigeons which delivered plain messages.

This further encouraged the other pigeons to add multiple colors to the messages. Some artistic ones would have rainbow designs on the messages. Some started sticking leaves and twigs.

Some stuck small conches to the message so that people could hear the waves over which the pigeon had to fly, to carry the message.

Some pigeons stuck to colors they liked the most( Red, Blue, Green ,Yellow and Orange being the most sort after colors). Pigeons who liked similar colors formed their own hubs and shared special friendship. 

Some even tried to change the texture of the paper that carried the messages. Softer and thinner papers were appreciated by the receivers. People started framing some of the messages in their houses. Such pigeons got lot of acclaim and rewards. 

In the process the pigeons themselves started getting colored. The colors that they dipped the message in, splashed on them and became their characteristic color. The very few pigeons who were left uncolored were the odd ones out. They were not regarded of much value during the regular pigeons meets.

In the euphoria created by all this, people did not notice the tweaks that were happening to the original message. Some letters got erased in the process. Some i’s and l’s got interchanged, e became c and m became n. There were no full stops or comas. Sometimes the colors were so bright that messages could not be read. Sometimes people could not even open the message because of the strong unpleasant odor. Sometimes the paper would become so soft that it would tear off. The sanctity of the message was taken over by the added condiments.

People who owned the dyeing units started “feed the pigeon” initiatives so that their colors would get popularized. The pigeons would get lured by the feed and ended up dipping the messages in those colors.

This continued for a very long time. 

There are a lot of people today yearning for plain ,unaltered messages delivered by uncolored ,old style pigeons. Luckily they have not become extinct. They can be saved by a massive ” save the real pigeon” campaign. They have to be fed, appreciated and bred.

Each of us can do our bit by not feeding the colored pigeons. 

I end this blog hoping that we will one day have our skies filled with real pigeons, carrying messages and not colors and scents.

I am hoping that we will have many more true successors of Cher Ami. 

 

Advertisements

Complexity of Complexes

Recently, during a discussion with friends, I admitted, “YES, I HAVE A SUPERIORITY COMPLEX! ”

I thought about it the whole day. Did I do the right thing? What would she and the others who heard me, think about me? Is that bad? Is it something that will give me bad karma? What is the penance that I should do to get out of it now?

By the end of the day, I could no longer carry the burden of this thought. I decided to take stock of all the ill effects of this statement. I made a list of things that I did during the day.

My list looked like this:

  • I ran a couple of extra miles thinking about the consequences. (Which earned me a trail shoe badge on my fitbit tracker 🙂 )
  • I ate more salad and less curry for lunch because all food tasted the same with this thought lingering in my belly.
  • I did not watch the TV series that I would usually watch. I spent that time in responding to some queries that my friends had put up on the WhatsApp groups. I had to prove that having a superiority complex does not stop a person from helping their friends.
  • I touched base with some of my school friends whom I had avoided for some time.
  • I smiled, greeted and spoke to my (grumpy) neighbor.
  • I read up on the Internet more about human behavior, superiority and inferiority complexes etc.

“Not bad! ” I thought. “Other than the one statement that I made in the morning, everything else seems to work in my favor. So applying the rules of integers, all these positives should be able to cancel that one negative. ”

In conclusion, acceptance of my superiority complex had not done me any harm. (Ha….Math comes to my rescue again! )

Now, I am trying to understand the meaning of the following definition that I found on the Internet:

“The superiority complex is one of the ways that a person with an inferiority complex may use as a method of escape from her or his difficulties. She or he assumes that she or he is superior when she or he is not, and this false success compensates her or him for the state of inferiority, which she or he cannot bear. The normal person does not have a superiority complex; she or he does not even have a sense of superiority. She or he has the striving to be superior in the sense that we all have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease.”

What does that mean????????????

I don’t even think I have the one that is described there.

Huh… the complexity of complexes!!

 

The Saga Continues..

When the cuckoo opened her eyes from what she thought was a small nap, she was surprised to find herself surrounded by so many different animals and birds. The ambiance and environment was unfamiliar and strange. There was absolutely nothing under or above her. It was not like the sky and the terrains that she was used to. She felt lighter. She couldn’t find her friends or kids. There were animals from different communities: Some of whom she had not thought very highly about and some, whom she always aspired to be. Some of whom she never wanted to befriend, and some, whom she couldn’t befriend in spite of all her efforts. When she looked around, she saw a giant eagle sitting on a rock above them. One look at the eagle and she realized something very strange. The animals could hear and understand each other without speaking a single word. They could read each other’s mind. None of them uttered a word, but they all spoke.

They welcomed the cuckoo to their new “temporary shelter” as they all called it. They had gathered there to take stock of the previous journey and may be learn some lessons, before they started their next one. All of them were curious and looking forward to their next journey. But they had to do some stocktaking before that.

They were all waiting for the cuckoo to wake up to start their discussion. The lion said” I never thought I was committing such a big mistake. I had boasted about it to my children. But now, I see them doing the same thing and at a much larger scale. I was assured one animal a day for meal by the jungle animals. And they kept their word. But I would kill a couple of more of them just for the sake of killing. Now, I see my children do the same thing. I also see the number of animals in the jungle declining at such an alarming rate. I feel worried. I want them to stop killing unnecessarily but they wouldn’t listen. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late! ”

The honeybee was shocked when the entire group heard her. Her shriek voice, in spite of being the queen usually fell on deaf ears. But here, her mute voice was as powerful as that of any other animal. She said” I did everything to protect my eggs. I had to choose between protecting my eggs and saving my workers. It was my motherly instincts that led me to take such a drastic step.” Eagle looked into her eyes and the bee quickly responded” You are right! I could have saved my workers and my eggs. If I had led my workers in the right direction, they could have flown to a safe place with the eggs. But I chose to take my eggs and fly without giving any directions to my workers, thus, endangering their lives. In the process, I dropped many eggs. My kids have learnt it all from me. They are now ill-treating all the workers in their respective beehives. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late! ”

The snake was next. ” Hiss! I was so happy spreading poison everywhere and I never realized that in the process I was killing too many innocent animals. My daughter never approved of my behavior and tried to convince me against taking innocent lives. But I wouldn’t listen! She got killed trying to save me from my enemies. My other kids are following my footsteps. They are spreading their venom everywhere. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

The pig couldn’t wait for his turn. He said ” But I never told my kid about how I used to stray away from the herd and reach a place first so that I could get the best share of food. I always projected a good herdsman figure and told my kid to be one. But today, I can see that my daughter has got into trouble for straying away and trying to reach first. ” Eagle reminded the pig of the instances when his daughter had heard from the rest of the herd about how her father used to disobey the rules. His daughter had defended him telling everyone that her father could never do anything wrong. The pig agreed and nodded. ” Yes! She did what she thought she should be doing because according to her, I could never do anything wrong. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

The beautiful eyes of the deer had filled up. All the animals looked at her. She said” I just had a vision of my little fawn. While he was small and did not still have his horns, he kept asking me when he would start growing his horns. I, instead of explaining to him that his horns would eventually grow, told him the story of how my dad got hunted down by a lion because his long horns got caught in the branches of a tree. My fawn started hating horns and now, when his little horns have started to appear, he is scared. He almost killed himself trying to rub his horns on the rock to get rid of it. I should have just explained things to him rather than pacifying him by telling the story. Now, how will he ever be able to accept the horns as his most distinguishable feature? I told that story just to stop him from asking me the same question again and again. I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

Cuckoo said ” I have seen my mother and aunts keep their eggs in other’s nests. We have to drop one egg from the host’s nest to fit in ours. We have been doing it for generations together. Once, in haste, I dropped my own egg down. And that’s when I understood the pain. I tried to convince my kids and friends against this tradition. But they wouldn’t listen.How could they stop something without having a solution! I now realize that I should have just taught them how to make a nest and take care of their own little ones rather than preaching to them.  I realize my mistake. But I know I am late!”

All the other animals there started thinking of the different ways in which they had set bad examples for their kids. Some animals were upset for never being happy and content with whatever they had with them. They could see the same unhappiness and discontentment in their kids. Some animals saw reflections of their manipulative and greedy self in their kids and they cried.

All of them swore that they never wanted their kids to do anything wrong. They always told their kids to be good. They also realized how much their kids looked up to them and considered them as their role models. So now, the mismatch was clear.

As all of them sat there pondering about the things they should have done differently, the eagle announced that their transport for the next journey had arrived.

The eagle waved good-bye to this batch of animals and the next batch was waiting for him.  With a smile, the eagle greeted the new batch and thought” the saga continues!”

Me Vs Me

I always thought it was me vs the other person.
The other person kept changing.
From mom to dad.
From sister to brother.
From friend A to friend B.
From boyfriend to girlfriend.
From husband to kid.
From boss to colleague.
From house help to cab driver.

Recently, I discovered a pattern.
Pattern in the arguments.
Pattern in the acquisitions.
Pattern in the allegations.
Pattern in the unhappiness.
Pattern in the helplessness.
Pattern in the dissatisfaction.
Pattern in the sorrows.
Pattern in loneliness.

So, now, I know it is Me Vs Me.
The good me Vs the bad me.
The egoistic me Vs the pure me.
The lazy me Vs the busy me.
The skeptical me Vs the convinced me.
The sarcastic me Vs the polite me.
The cynical me Vs the believing me.
The selfish me Vs the selfless me.
The distracted me Vs the focussed me.
The pessimistic me Vs the optimistic me.

Now, I do not have an escapism.
Now, I do not know whom to blame.
Now, I am confused.
Which me is ME?

I also know that,
Now, I have power.
Now, I have responsibility.
Now, I have hope.
Now, I have the onus. 
I can be the ME I choose to be. 

I still don’t choose the right ME always. 
But I know that the ME that I am right now, is my choice!  

 

 

The Closure

The Seemingly Perfect Life.

Lawanda means “little wanderer”. Lawanda is not a common name. Her kids thought the name did not suit her because they had never heard any travel story form their mom.

Her friends thought she had a perfect life. A loving husband, beautiful kids, a cosy little home in the suburbs and  a thriving career as a food blogger. School , home and work kept her busy. Weekends were fun filled with picnics, games, guests and some restaurant visits for reviews. She couldn’t have asked for more. Her food blog was awarded one of the most read blogs. Her entrees and desserts were equally popular.

But, there were days when this seemingly happy woman would spend hours locked up in her room. Her husband, James took care of everything else during those times. James knew that Lawanda needed that time to recoup herself and get on with life. Kids thought momy was not well and was sleeping in her room.  

Lawanda, The Little Wanderer. 

Lawanda and her brother Devon had travelled around the world with their parents.  Their mom had written down the recipes from across the world in a little red book. When her parents passed away, that was the only prized possession they had left behind. Their travel obsession had left them almost bankrupt and Lawanda had to work two shifts during holidays to finish college. And that little red book was her inspiration to start the food blog. 

Lawanda’s parents’ wedding vow was to travel the world. Expansion of the family did not stop them from traveling. Some trips were planned and others were impromptu. They would pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere and eat whatever they could lay their hands on. Life was clearly a journey from one destination to another. Formal schooling did suffer because of their extensive traveling. But that would be a concern for someone who thought schools taught more than life. Lawanda’s parents had no concern. 

The Last Destination. 

Africa was the last travel destination for the family. Lawanda loved the way her parents planned the trips. There would be an overall plan but no specific ones. A lot was decided on the go. There would never be a dull moment. The family was a close knit team and each one knew what their role was. Lawanda also knew that she had to settle down at one place and finish her college before she could go on her next trip

The trip to Africa was super exciting with various experiences like kayaking on the Nile river in Egypt, visit to the Madagascar island, wilderness experiences in South Africa and Kenya etc.  They were excited to camp on the banks of the Nile river. Though some of the locals had warned them against it, they went ahead. Nile river is the longest river in Africa. The two tributaries White Nile and Blue Nile originate in Lake Victoria and Lake Tana respectively and flows a distance of close to 6900 kms before joining the Mediterranean sea. It contains treacherous rapids, and large rocks which can get dangerous.

 It was the last day of the trip and they were busy packing. Usually Lawanda and Devon spent the last day filling up their travel diary with all the memoirs they could collect. Their travel books were filled with the most interesting goodies from around the world. Lawanda had the hair strands and feathers of the most exotic animals and birds. She also had pictures of the many monuments that she had been to. Devon found nature’s varied colors more fascinating. His book was filled with sand and mud samples from around the world. He also collected unique leaves and twigs from different trees found in these places.

Next morning, as all of them got ready to leave, they realised that Devon was missing. They looked everywhere. They kept searching. But they never saw him again. Later they found his travel diary and slippers on the river bank. He had probably gone there to collect some soil sample. He never came back and that was the end of the little wanderer’s wandering!

Lawanda never travelled anywhere after that. Her parents decided not to travel but that was like caging up free flying birds. Eventually both of them succumbed to their illness and loss. Lawanda found an anchor in James and she settled down after college.

Lawanda still calls out to Devon in her dreams. Infact, all her dreams are about asking Devon to be careful with water current and about telling him to become a a better swimmer. Her nightmares never stopped. James could tell from her mannerisms when she was nearing a breakdown. He gave her ample space to get over it and come back to normalcy. 

The Turning Point. 

The new yoga teacher was an instant hit among the gym goers. The weekend yoga class was something they all looked forward to. He connected very well with Lawanda and James.

Lawanda could not close her eyes and sit idle. Her inner turmoil had left her incapable of any inward looking. The yoga teacher was quick to observe it and handed over a couple of books to Lawanda. She realted to a lot of things that she read in those books. She found solace in those books when she woke up from her nightmares.

It was a gradual process but she got hooked on to the books written by yogis from India. That in turn led to a strong urge in her to travel to an ashram(hermitage) in India and experience that oneness with the supreme. James also read these books and liked them.  The yoga teacher added fuel to their desire by narrating the spiritual journeys of his students. They finally decided to make a trip to an ashram suggested by the yoga teacher. James was very happy to see that change in Lawanda. He was hopeful of getting back the little wanderer in her. 

The Trip.

Kids were dropped off at James’ parents place . Lawanda and James travelled to India. They stayed in an Ashram with a group of foreign tourists. The group had a well planned stay with meditation, yoga, team games, farming, cooking and cleaning in the schedule. In the mornings they would go out for a walk in the neighborhood. The nearest town was a couple of kilometers away.

One day, Lawanda came across a very familiar face. That smile, and those twinkling eyes were known to her.  It was like a face that was so etched in memory and still so forgotten. As the  little boy came near her, they looked into each other’s eyes and there was an immediate connect. She stopped to ask him his name. “Namastey didi, I am Smaran ” he said. Those eyes pierced her. She felt the same emotion that she had felt years ago on the banks of the river Nile when she picked up her brother’s diary and slippers. Lawanda ran back to the ashram.

She remembered her first conversation with guruji. He had told her that she was at the right place at the right time and that she was nearing a big closure in her life. 

The Connect.

Lawanda looked at the picture of her brother. There weren’t any similarities between Devon and Smaran. But something was connecting the two of them. The next day she went to the town in search of this kid. She found him near the river. Lawanda had never gone near a river after that incident. So she stood away from the river and called out to the boy. He came running.

Smaran said” Didi, I have been wanting to meet you since yesterday. I came to the ashram for the satsang (prayer meeting). But you werent there. I wanted to tell you that I am fine and I have learnt swimming. Now I shall not drown.”

Lawanda couldn’t believe what she heard. “What? Why are you telling this to me” .

Smaran said in his very innocent voice ” Because you come in my dream everyday and ask me to be careful. You tell me to learn swimming and to learn it so well that no river can carry me away.”

He picked up a strange shaped banyan leaf that had fallen down and put it into a bag that he was carrying. He said, ” My friends tease me for collecting strange leaves and twigs”. He pointed to the plastic bag that he was carrying. 

Lawanda almost froze. She felt a zillion emotions within her.  There was anger, there was pain, there was joy, there was longing..But after the waves of emotions subsided, she felt a strange relief. She felt as though a big piece of luggage had been offloaded from her chest. She had never felt lighter. She ran to guruji and told him ” yes guruji, I experienced closure!” She sat there with her eyes closed with a stream of water flowing out of it. This was the first time she could near-meditate. She sat still in guruji’s presence. 

The Closure.

Once back home, Lawanda took out the two travel diaries and went through them. She showed it to the kids and told them all about her adventures. She told them about their uncle Devon who would have been a fine young man had he been alive today. 

She laminated the pages of the diaries and used them as coffee table books. She bought a similar diary and  and posted it to Smaran. She sent a note which read” Dear Smaran, This is a small token of appreciation for learning to swim so well. You can stick all the knick knacks that you collect into this book. I would love to see it during my next visit. Love,  Lawanda. “

The End.