Monday, June 11, 2007

There Be PJs Here

In which the insanity resumes with a PJ

Captain John Foster of Her Majesty's 21st Engineering Regiment was a troubled man. Newly arrived in the tropics, all manners of ailments beset him. The moment he had stepped off the decks of the P&O steamer in Bombay, this vile country with its heat, sweat, crowds and insects seemed to have begun executing a personal vendetta.

When the regiment was posted to Bangalore, the old timers heaved a sigh of relief. There would be polo, and pig-sticking, and chances of being transferred to fight the Jezails or the Dogras were remote. Besides, the weather would be blessedly English.

Unfortunately for Capt. Foster, his woes did not end. Directly he had arrived in the cantonment, and some enterprising colonel had discovered his special talent for earthworks. Foster was assigned a team of coolies and told to get busy and start building the embankment for the new railway station.

Now they were almost done. Most of the embankment was complete and there remained one last bit where the surface needed leveling. They had to be done by sunset, and the evening shadows were beginning to gather around them. Those strange tropical birds were creating pandemonium in the fig trees, and Foster was beginning to feel the need of a bath and a sundowner at the club.

The problem was that the labourer in charge of this last bit was insanely slow. He would shuffle off to pit from where they were digging, root around listlessly for a bit, and come back with a pitiful basket of earth. No amount of staring or fulminating seemed to make a difference. Perhaps he didn't understand the urgency.

Perhaps he didn't understand English. Shortly after this thought occurred, Foster began to cast about for ways to make his point. Foster was rather taken with his own linguistic abilities. In Bombay, he'd managed to pick up a smidgen of Marathi and Hindi, and he could confidently venture into the fleshpots.

But this was a completely new language, and he hadn't (yet) found an opportunity to test his skills. The time had come. What was that fellow's name again? Ah... He wandered over to the pit. The coolie appeared to be poking at the ground with a shovel, apparently he was trying to tickle Mother Earth.

"Hey! Krishna! Nee begane burrow!!", said Capt. Foster.

Curiously enough, an eminent Haridasa was taking his evening constitutional close at hand.

Ah. That is so much better than senti claptrap. A few other points. This last Saturday, in Hussain Sagar, we saw coots, purple swamphens, black-winged stilts (or so we think), and pheasant-tailed jacanas. Do the rains have anything to do with this? Lots of baby birds as well, blundering around the reed bed.

[Aside: There must be a song to the tune of mere pyaar ka ras zaraa chakhna from Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, which we can create with "jacana", no?

apne poonch ko thoda oopar rakhna
oh jacana! oh jacana!!
mere paas waali machhli ko chakhna
oh jacana! oh jacana!!

Scope are there, we feel.]

Ah well. Vijay Cavale's excellent IndiaBirds as usual has much better pictures of said coots, swamphens, stilts, and makhnas.

Another point to be noted is that as of this morning, we are utterly thrilled to report the return of the Jedi.

What do you call a medium-sized, colourful, passerine bird with a bladder control problem?


Har har de har.


Shankari said...


(am off to burrow again)

Space Bar said...

yee-ikes! :D

good thing you missed the play, yo. smart move.

deitaDi said...

baanchan.. "PJ" anna warning sign unna gani kallu duknam kaaDiki pOtunna malli gaani teeru aatram aatram ga sadivina.. bokka borla paDDa.. endukanaDugu.. navvi navvi.. :)

khatarnaak raastav anna nuvvu.. eppati sandO sadutuvunna gani comment EsuDu ide farashTu..

tellOllu anTaru sooDu - banDalu estanE bO maiki kirikiri!

Ludwig said...

[shankari] ah. but wait till you hear the PJs based on Carnatic raagams. then you'll have to burn me at the stake!

[s.b.] yee-ikes is what most people are saying :) i'm not so sure about missing the play. federer lost. boo hoo.

crazy busy-ness is going. waiting desperately for weekend to come and go.

Ludwig said...

[deitadi] ayya (amma?), tamaru evaro teliyadu, tamaru wraasindi kooda parse cheyyadam koncham kashtamgaane undi.

aina edo meeku ikkada nenu voddistunna chetta nachhindi, anukuntunnanu. so krutags!

deitadi said...

nEnevaranTe Em cheppaale.. prastutaaniki nee pankhaa ankO.. nuvu naak telvadu, nEn neeku telvadu, adaite pakka :) (atleast aTlani ankunTunna)

blaagu la panTi tirigi tirigi nee blaagukochina.. specifically from Megha's blog -

ayya - idi karekt sambOdhana :)

iga bhaasha anTavaa.. naakochina telugu idE baanchan.. ingilpees antTavaa, adantanta maatramE.. so adjust aipO :)

kbpm said...

sometimes, back in the crumbly old alma matter, when there were about a billion people talking continually & incomprehensibly in telugu, i used to respond with things like-
& so on, and wonder
Why do they all sound like questions? Why dont they make sense unless fitted into Aditaala (err.. Roopaka in case of (2))? But even I did not dare reduce the masterpieces into PJs! Oh no! Blasphemy!!

Shankari said...

Not too keen to burn at the steak, are we? ;)

Ph said...

How be?