The unbearable short-sightedness of a Hoopoe lover

I have a tumultuous relationship with Common Hoopoes. Whenever I see one, disaster tends to flirt with me. I end up hurting myself, causing damage to property or making people suspicious of me. And I hear a sad violin solo playing in the background, as the bird flies away.

I was riding pillion on my friend’s motorbike when I first spotted a Hoopoe at a bird sanctuary. It appeared on the branch of a papaya tree. I hopped to the ground for a closer look. But I slipped and burnt the skin off my ankle on the bike’s muffler. I shrieked. Distracted, the bird flew away.

I was aghast when I realized what I had done. I made unhappy noises. My friend could have possibly thought to himself, “So this is what it sounds like when doves cry”.

A few months later, I spotted another during a long drive to the city outskirts. A beautiful damsel wind-drying its scarlet crown on the terrace of an abandoned building. I parked the car by the side of the road and tip-toed towards the Hoopoe. I took a few photographs. Then, I sat down to admire its plumage.

Feeling good, I returned to the car. Except that the car wasn’t there where I had left it in a few minutes earlier. I freaked out, like a confused mime unable to find a way out of an invisible box even after the show is over .

Finally, I noticed it parked haphazardly by the side of the road about 500 meters away. I hadn’t used the handbrake before getting out. Luckily, it had crashed onto a haystack – suffering very minimal damage.

I spotted a Hoopoe in my city at a traffic signal in a beach-side locality. The light turned green as I struggled to get the camera out of my bag. But I couldn’t.  So, I drove on to take a U-turn at the next signal. I went back to the spot but the traffic lights weren’t in the mood to entertain me. Again, I couldn’t stop to see her.

I decided to take the U-turn once more. Finally, I made it on time. But I was interrupted by traffic police who thought that I needed directions. They looked at me suspiciously too. It also turned out that my car insurance had expired.


During a visit to Kodaikanal, I had a Hoopoe for a rooftop neighbor in the cottage I stayed in. Enthralled, I climbed on a stone bench for a better view. As I moved towards the edge, I tumbled over its arm-rest and fell onto a bush. The caretaker’s wife came running out upon hearing the thud. Gingerly, I told her about it. She looked at me like I would the Pythagoras’ theorem. Or anything more arithmetically complicated than multiplication. She quietly ushered herself away from me, as I stood there – feeling silly.

Later that day I noticed that she had two daughters living with her. I wondered if she had assumed that I was a creep. I wish I could have told her that I enjoyed stalking birds, and staring at them. And people just weren’t worth the effort involved in all that planning.

I have seen the Hoopoe many times without something weird, awkward or painful happening to me. But I don’t remember much about them.

I will be angry with myself if I figure out later that it is a conscious effort of mine. What if I hold onto the painful bits of whatever I go through because it is easier to write about them?

It won’t be any fun if you turn out to be the reason why I feel this way sometimes.

We were just getting to know each other a little better.

Cue the violin solo.

Common Hoopoes, Anaimalai Hills

I ache
for you,
my sweet
darling in 
the tort of deceit.

my rooftop 
in glory,
in defeat.

(Photographs: Chennai. Kodaikanal, Valparai)

41 thoughts on “The unbearable short-sightedness of a Hoopoe lover

Add yours

  1. hilarious; car into a haystack, Christy! hahaha

    I can totally relate as I have said before, about becoming oblivious to the surroundings. Luckily yours is only when birding, mine is whenever I have a camera in my hand. And that mounts to around 75-87% of the day, it can end in car crashes or stepping on peoples feet.

    ‘and while getting off – I managed burn the skin of my ankle on the silencer.’- perfectomondo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post brought a smile to my face. Thanks for that. 🙂 You have some amazing memories, here. The police one really got me. That’s some passion. 😀 Great photographs, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used this post for my reading music today. The Ilayaraja link leads to a ‘private video’ which I couldn’t view. Love your music posts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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