Every once in a while, something good turns up and keeps you motivated and going strong. And for me, the latest has been the sighting of sparrows at the Bangalore International Airport.

A sparrow at the Bangalore airport

Salim Ali titled his biography as the Fall of a Sparrow, which is of course a quote from Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s time a sparrow may have been commonplace, for in the context of the quote (Hamlet), he appears to imply that there is a special providence (even) in the fall of a sparrow. But in our time, the sparrow has become a precious creature. It is receding alarmingly (rather like my hairline) and has practically vanished from cities like Chennai.

In our old house in Mylapore, with its Madras terrace supported by wooden rafters, there was plenty of space for sparrows. They could sometimes pose a problem such as when the young ones would fly into the electric fan and be killed. We would keep watch over nests that were built inside the house and wherever possible shift them outside. Modern construction has no possibilities for sparrows to nest. Some say that the towers for mobile communication also disturb the sparrows. I dont know about that. They disturb me all right, for such is their ugliness.

Anyway, last week I was in Bangalore and while flying back, went along with my colleague to the cafe that is the security area. I suddenly thought I saw a rat crawling along. Closer inspection revealed it to be a sparrow. And there were several. They remain focused on the food that is dropped from the tables and judging by their general health, pav bhaji and pasta appear to be doing them good.

More sparrows

I dont know how they got in and where they nest. Do they fly out of the building or are they permanently entrapped? But if I was someone in the higher echelons of the Bangalore Airport, I would go to town claiming it was the most eco-friendly among airports. Just on the evidence of these sparrows.

Of course, a few sparrows do not make for a revival. But I do have hopes. These photos are not great but it was the best I could do. They would insist on flying off!