Listening to the Peacocks: Watching the Film at Tribal Research Institute, Mysore

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-27 at 16.26.03
It was most confusing. And ironic.
At the screening of Sikkidre Shikari Ildidre Bhikari at the Tribal Research Institute on September 25/26 in Mysore at the two day national convention on “Tribal Livelihoods: Challenges and Opportunities” the bird cries on screen it seems were being drowned out by cries coming from the neighbouring Karanji Kere, a bird watchers paradise. It was difficult to figure out which was real. The cries of the Hakki Pikkis who were doing their uncanny imitation of the peacocks, partridges and other birds with who they have a symbiotic relationship, in an effort to trap them. Or the live birds whose louder and more raucous cries it seems were saying mockingly “Catch me if you can!”
Curious to see the birds whose cries were drowning the sounds in the film, we walk over early next morning to the beautiful Karanji Kere that is the temporary home to our migratory friends who fly in from far away lands to nest and breed here every year. While human pay to enter and watch them make themselves at home. As the domesticated white peacocks strut around proudly in their large aviary and their more colourful counterparts perch themselves haughtily on the tree, a loud quarrel breaks out between them. They dont sound half as beautiful as they look! The love birds trapped in a cage cuddle and feed each other morsels of fruit as a vibrantly coloured forest hen pecks around for grains outside. In the middle of the lake flocks of herons circle around a large tree where nests have been built in which hungry babies wait for their mothers to bring them food to eat. A couple of long necked storks sit majestically on top of the tree, masters of all that they survey.
As a couple of black egrets (or were they herons??)  soar around the lake in perfect symphony Kumuda shares an incredible factoid. That if you pluck the feathers off white egrets their skin is black underneath. And the opposite is true for their black counterparts. Stripped of their black feathers they are white beneath. Very symbolic!
And then another story. She had love birds in a cage in her house as also fish.
One day she gets a call from her husband. “you will be upset if if I tell you what I did. But I had to do it!” What she asks. ” I have released the birds into the skies and the fish into the pond nearby. They are not meant to be kept caged up. They have to fly free!” he told her. He has found another faith. While Kumuda struggles with the one insider her.
After our brief tryst with the birds and the beautiful man made environs that they have made their own we come back to the neatly manicured lawns and buildings of the Administrative Institute where discussions continue around the challenges and opportunities to tribal livelihoods.

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