It was a cold start to the day in the sleepy village of Kurangu Mudi in the Anaimalai Hills. The sun wasn’t up yet. I was sipping on hot beverage outside a tea shop, petting an old mongrel. We were watching the mist disappear from moist skirts the forest wore that morning. Suddenly, out of nowhere, ghostly cries hijacked the air. I looked around and saw only the sleepy stare of the shopkeeper.
So, I craned my neck upwards to see if they were birdsongs. I noticed that a flock of pigeons had taken to the skies, and they were heading towards the other side. They were too quick for me to identify them by name at that moment. And so I ran after them until I reached a fence safeguarding the wild animals from people and vice-versa.
I turned back to see if the dog had followed me. But he hadn’t. I assumed that he had seen these birds before. And he had also learned to accept that the world was never going to be as beautiful as the birds it houses.
It took me a while to realize that I had spotted Pompadour Green Pigeons; in fact, several of them on a canopy of fruiting trees. They were breakfasting on shirt pocket-sized fruits, and looking very pleased about it. It was like a scene sliced out of a surreal movie. It left me with sentiments vastly unlike to those that Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien Andalou did.
It wasn’t my first encounter with these pigeons. I had seen them before, nesting in small groups in Munnar and Thekkady during late evenings. These resident breeders can be found across the tropical regions of southern Asia, including the Western Ghats. They haunt rainforests and wet woodlands.
Never before though had I ever been surrounded by them, in large numbers, in the clear light of day.
It’s impossible to describe Pompadour Green Pigeons without missing out at least one precious detail about them. They resemble red velvet cupcakes, coated in pistachio dust and mint sauce. But that would only qualify as chapter one in what might turn out to be a novella about their wings alone.
And so, I hope some of the photographs fill in the potholes these words may have dug up.
I want to drip from your beak, like fresh orange juice squeezed from a sunset, trickling from mouths of mountaintops.
(Photographs: Korangu Mudi)