Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't you hate parrots?

Image courtesy of tungphoto at

I know what you're thinking. Parrots look adorable, smart, perfect gentlemen, but don't be fooled by their nice appearance. They tend to be quite irritating and often, noisy.

If you don't already know, parrots are known to continuously spew out "facts" with a superior air about them, "facts" they have only heard the other day from someone else. They don't offer explanations or justifications for any of their opinions and the mere shrug that follows every proclamation of knowledge is supposed to suffice as an answer to every polite request for authentication. These parrots are known to say the strangest, most far-fetched things as if they were reciting the multiplication tables. 

They may get and up and announce one day that "Marathi people hate to mix with others." based not in the least on their interaction (or lack thereof) with Marathi people but on someone else's arbitrary assumption. If I wasn't myself Marathi, I would have sincerely ended up believing, after that conversation, that Pune is comprised entirely of narrow-minded servants, maids, children who have quit their education right after school, who only talk to each other and that the city has no cultural scene whatsoever. Just why my feathered friends ardently believed that, I will never know.

You come across parrots in every field. Some are literature fanatics who know, for certain, just how much research went into every book ever published and whether the facts were falsified or the events too fictionalized. You'd think, for a second, that they were walking Encyclopedias, but let me tell you, they are little more than parrots who spend their nights glued to Wikipedia. Others are expert engineers. If you know someone who has dismantled every gadget in your house, much to your dislike, claiming that they could be improved or fixed, keep your binoculars handy - for you've found yourself an excellent specimen of a parrot.

In my observation, parrots seem to surface the most when someone is ill. You see, they somehow have this inbuilt knowledge of medicine that the rest of us don't quite possess. Their diagnosis is spot-on, even when they've only heard a few of the symptoms, they could tell you the causes and the most effective treatments of any disease within a heartbeat. And the curious thing is, they never seem to know just where they found this enlightenment.

They're fascinating creatures, these parrots. And yet, I hate them. Then again, I might just be jealous.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Image courtesy of domdeen at

Back in Amboli, I realized something funny. It happened late one evening, when we had just come back from a pre-dinner trail. With the air around us so cold and eerie, the topic naturally turned to ghost stories; mostly scary Bollywood movies, so I was not as much a part of the conversation as an outside observer (I hadn't seen any Bollywood horror lately.) One girl, though quite eager to listen to the stories, started getting insanely afraid and her worrying mother announced that it was time to change the topic. She mentioned, for whatever reason, that she did believe in ghosts but that now was not the time to discuss them. At that, a guy just ran up to her and exclaimed, "There is no such thing as ghosts. There is no such thing as ghosts." He did say it twice. He went on to add, "Bring me one. Just bring me a ghost. I'm telling you, there are no ghosts." And right then... I had my epiphany!

What I thought was, how on earth could he know that? Wasn't it crazy to have so much faith in our senses, when they could be so deceiving? Only minutes ago, we had been walking through a dense forest, entirely sure we were seeing the silhouettes of a spotted owl here and a falcon there, only to realize as we got closer, that they were some weirdly shaped leaves. We had vehemently argued that the twigs visible in the distance were not, in fact, twigs, but little snakes and run up to them to discover that we were, after all, wrong. And after spending hours not watching spotted owls and falcons and snakes, how could we come home and trust those senses enough to say that because we haven't seen something, it couldn't exist.

I realized, for the first time, that it is just as ridiculous to adamantly not believe in the supernatural as it is to be convinced that it exists. How could we possibly know that? There is so much in the world around us that we are yet to fully understand. That's probably why I am so fascinated by horror or fantasy fiction: realizing and accepting the fact that we have little control over what goes on around us but that we can live and function despite that sense of helplessness; that the unknown doesn't necessarily mean the bad and, that, in a very Stephen King-like way, every known evil begins and ends in the human mind. I am going to stop myself from plunging into a passionate talk about fiction, because I have sworn not to write about books on this blog. 

Instead, let me just ask you what you believe in. Do you really think it is justified for us to decide with certainty what is, based on our limited knowledge and capacities? Maybe there are ghosts and lost souls in limbo and freaky otherworldly creatures that mythology talks about. My only belief is that no amount of being scared of or worshipping what may be out there is going to get us anywhere.