I always look forward to go to my hometown Trivandrum to be with my parents who are alone. The city of Trivandrum is less polluted, unspoilt (or 'townish' as my husband puts it) compared to the hustle and bustle of big cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru. The everyday life is not fast paced and stressful as in big cities , and so I feel one can lead a better quality of life there.
As I moved to Bangalore after my wedding, the one thing I found which was conspicuously missing was our neighborhood friend, crow. I used to think that this black beauty is present in every corner waiting to have the scraps of the leftover food items. The nature's scavenger, as we learnt in schools, is not omnipresent in the city of now high-rise buildings, Bangalore. That was when I realized that crows need trees to survive, build nests and move about and not concrete buildings. Buildings are more pigeon-friendly.
In our Brahmin community, we have the tradition of feeding the crows the steaming hot rice with a drop of ghee with some lentil daal, before sitting for lunch. My mom and grandmom still follow this today. That handful of steaming rice with a drop of ghee and daal should taste better than what I put in my plate later on, I have felt. As this ritual is followed regularly, there will be a regular group of crows waiting for that. My dad, who is not a believer of many of our rituals, somewhat feels attached to these visitors and asks my mom whether she has put some hot rice for crows before his lunch. On the third day of Pongal (the harvest festival of Tamilians), the leftovers of rice items, sweet rice made of jaggery (pongal), sambar, vegetables are served by the female members of the families to the crows while praying for the well being of the family members and the departed souls. The presence of crows is very important for this annual ritual as they eat all these items. As for people like me living in multi-storeyed complexes in Bangalore, this ritual is hard to follow because crows do not come to high-rise buildings.
Talking about crows in my hometown, my parents are only too happy to have them around, as lot of perishable food can be easily disposed by keeping on the wall of our backyard. Leftover rice, vegetable curries, gravies, vegetable preparation with lentils, lots of deep fried but perishable items like bhajjis, vadas, bondas (masala with gram flour covering), breakfast items like dosas, idlis, upmas, bread, bakery items which have crossed expiry dates, and voila!!, you have a flock of crows waiting to feast on these 'unwanted' items!People who eat non-vegetarian food will have another list of items to be disposed to be eaten by these wonderful birds. If only I had crows coming to my place so that I do not feel that lot of the leftover food items are not 'wasted.' Of course, I did have that bitter experience of those yucky crow droppings on my head during my childhood, but they are nothing compared to the service they render to the society of mankind. But for them to render yeomen service, we need to have lots of trees around us which is clearly lacking in some metro cities. What I have observed is that black raven crows are less in number compared to the female ones. In my parents' place, I have observed that whenever a raven crow touches his beak on the food, the female ones patiently wait and also with a sense of respect to the male crow to finish his share!!!If only I had taken the snap of that!!! Being in Bangalore, I miss all these and also the sounds of crows I used to hear in the mornings during my childhood days. Yeah, being in some cities, you get to gain a lot, but lose these simple things in life! Everything in our lives ultimately does come with a price!!