Enjoyment And Entertainment With 4Bs

The story of birds (sparrows, pigeons, parrots, crows) and their observation by Baba, BB and Baboo and its filming creating a lot of enjoyment and entertainment.

There he was sitting at the same place in the park with a lot of birds of different kind, sparrows, pigeons, parrots, crows and even some squirrels around him. While some pigeons were sitting on his shoulders making him a comical and humorous figure most of the birds were eating, chirping or having drink from different vessels scattered around the place. The man looked full of joy and happiness and continued to talk as if he knew their language. Some time he would shout “No, no, not that way Blacko,” and some time “Come on you stupid creature it is breakfast time,” at some other bird. The birds looked so attached to him that they remained very close to him all the time without any fear.
It was a common scene at this time of the morning daily. The man appearing to be in his fifties, with a small beard and tough looking body was called Baba by the people. I once enquired from the park staff about Baba, and they told me that he was doing this since last 3/4 years. He would come at about 6 AM and stay for an hour. First he would have a jog of 30 minutes and then another 30 minutes he would feed the birds and go back. He would come back at 4 PM and do the same core, leaving at 5 PM. I thought about having a talk with him sometime about the behavior of birds and his reason of doing what he was doing.

On the day I had decided for this talk, I was at the Park at 6 AM instead of normal 6.30 AM and went straight to his sitting place. He was not there as yet. I sat down at the place where he usually sat and started waiting for him. After about 15/20 minutes I stated hearing birds chirp. Mostly sitting on the tree branches , while some were flying around the place, may be waiting for Baba. Some birds would come down on the ground and then fly away as if disturbed by my presence. Baba came at 6.30 AM , and was surprised to see me sitting there. He came to me and told me that he daily sat at that place and requested me to move away a little so that he could sit there. In the meanwhile I saw the birds having a chirping descend. I moved a little away from the place and Baba sat down. He took out four small packets from the bag he was carrying and started throwing its contents around himself. The birds already on the ground were joined by many more flying on to the spot. The atmosphere got filled with a strange, but palatable sound of birds chirp and Baba too started his talk session unmindful that I was sitting close to him . He was engrossed in his work while I looked on.
“ O, o Whiteto boy would you skip breakfast today and only drink water, or are you sick,” he enquired from a totally white pigeon who was sitting quiet near the water vessel and having small sips.
“Give chance to others also you selfish bird,” he shouted at a crow continuously having a drink from a water vessel.
It was really a scene full of entertainment and enjoyment and I was feeling myself as a part of the scene. I decided to spent more time before my talk with Baba as I was having a feeling of great relief and relaxation and out from the stress, tensions and anxieties of daily life.
After some time when Baba had stopped the feed process and was preparing to leave I decided to start my job.
“You daily do this way, why,” I asked.
“Because I love birds and they are my friends,” he replied
“What you do for a living,” was my next question.
“I work as a Security Guard in a Security firm,” he replied.
He was not very talkative, I therefore asked everything I wanted to know in a long question, and he told me that his name was Ali Hasan, he belonged to a far off place in the northern areas and had come to the city for employment. He had a mother and a younger brother. He did not marry due to weak financial conditions. His father retired as a Junior Officer in the army. He also was recruited in the army as a sepoy and after release started working as a Security Guard. His younger brother after doing his graduation joined the Army and was now working as a Major.
About the behavior of different birds he told me that he never tried to know about that, but he observed that like humans birds also are of different nature. Some are garrulous while others mostly remained quiet. Some are more interested in the feed of others and try to snatch it while others are contended with whatever they were eating. A few are quarrelsome, but most of them are peaceful.
The little information I got about birds made me more curious and my long asleep directorial ambitions and freshly born video-making wish joined hands.

I decided to meet the manager of the Park and request him for permission and help. The very next day I was in his office and after telling him about my proposal to make a video about birds behavior with the help of Baba and some volunteers requested him to help out by hiring Baba as a Security Guard and allotting him a quarter to live so that he could be fully utilized. I assured him that I would acknowledge with thanks his contribution at the start of the video. His face did not show any reaction, but he promised to discuss the matter with his seniors as the matter was beyond his jurisdiction and authority. He told me to check after 2/3 days. After 3 days when I met him he told me that his seniors had no objection about the video, but hiring of Baba was not possible as they had no vacancy. He put a counter question why I did not hire him myself?
I thought it for a moment and told him that I would discuss it with Baba and if he agreed I would come to him again.
The next day I met Baba and told him about the proposal and offered him a job at my house at a salary reasonably higher than his present salary along with accommodation.
“But, what after your project is complete, you would through me out,” he enquired.
“No you will continue to work and I would advise you to bring your mother also I have enough accommodation for both of you.” I assured him.
“OK then I agree,” he declared.
“This is the start of the month you may tell your employer immediately and join as early as possible,” I told him.

I gave an advertisement in the newspaper for volunteers who possessed at least some knowledge about birds and were interested in the project. I also offered stipend for the job.
In a few weeks I was able to select two volunteers who have studied Ornithology, a branch of Zoology dealing with birds, a boy and a girl.
A few days later Baba informed me that he would be relieved from the job in early next month. I again met the manager of the Park and told him about my plan. He expressed his pleasure and reminded me about my promise to mention his name in the acknowledgement part of the video.
Baba came to my house on the promised date. I held a meeting the next day with Baba and the volunteers, namely Baboo Arshad and Bilqis Bano to finalize the plan. It was decided that the task would be completed in three months. First two month would be devoted to observation and note taking, and the last month for filming.
The next day I took Baba, and the two volunteers to the office of the manager and introduced them to him. He promised to extend full support and also called his staff and told them to fully cooperate with us.
All four of us then went to the location. There was no trace of any bird at that time. Baboo proposed that we should have a round of the Park to see the places where the birds mostly spend their time during the day and their resting place at night. We got the help of a gardener for the purpose. We decided that for the first 7 days BB( Bilqis Bano) and Baboo would observe the behavior of birds of different kind at the location as well as their resting places and where they spend most of their time and took notes. Baba would concentrate on identifying birds who behave in a similar manner in each category of birds and got it noted down with BB and Baboo. The team comprising Ali Hasan( Baba), Baboo and BB was ready to make a start the following day.

The next day we were off to a descending start (instead of flying start as birds started to descend on seeing Baba). While I, Baboo and BB watched Baba continued his routine. The birds were flocked together according to their feed. I asked Baba how he came to know about what feed to give to which bird. He told me that he consulted a bird doctor about it. On my query he also told me that approximate cost each day for the feed was Rs 50/. I told him that I would bear that cost in future. Baboo and BB were closely watching the birds and taking notes. After the first feed I left promising to visit the place regularly.
The next two months were most efficiently used by the three team members. According to their observation, crows and parrots appear to be more closely related in their behavior and in social interaction. The reason might be their belonging to the same animal family. Pigeons looked to be more intelligent, active and had better cognitive abilities, and like to be in groups. Sparrows tend to be solitary or found only in pairs or family groups. As the feed of different birds was mostly different, their interaction during their eating sessions was not noticeable, but as water is common for all of them it did provide some insight in to their behavior. It was observed that crows were more interested in water or may be due to their physical superiority got preferred treatment from others. Crows were also more interested in washing than the other birds. Baba was able to identify some peculiar facts based on his personal observation. There were a very few instances of quarreling among different kind of birds, but were observed more within the same kind. According to him, mostly it was observed in pigeons, and in most cases the black pigeons were involved. Pigeons also feared humans the least. Sparrows were comfortable in the company of pigeons and parrots in the company of crows. Baba also told about the feeling of happiness among different birds on different occasions as depicted by their behavior. Their reaction on seeing a cat was quite similar and the noise created by their fearful shrieks mostly acted as a warning for the birds unaware about the threat.
With the start of the third month I started the filming process. I did not forget to shoot a scene of the manager sitting in his office. We succeeded in capturing most of the scenes highlighted in the prepared notes and also some on the spot happenings starting from their morning cores to their return to their abode. We also got more information about these birds during this time which also became a part of the video.

It was the most exciting time of my life. The three Bs, i.e. the Baba, BB and Baboo had done a wonderful job about the 4th B, i.e. the birds which greatly facilitated me in not only fulfilling my directional ambitions, but also providing me a unique opportunity to observe nature from close quarters. That month was full of enjoyment, entertainment and happiness for all of us and will remain enshrined in our memories for all times to come.

By: Tasneem Hameed

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