Pssss of the Town – Bird Scare, LSD hangover
All the news that’s not fit to print.
[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; picture by Erik Kurzweil]
At around 4 in the afternoon of April 26th, Erik Kurzweil, counsellor in the German embassy, witnessed an incredible sight in the first-floor guestroom of his Malcha Marg bungalow–a huge bird sitting on the bed and flapping it giant wings.
A terrified Erik closed the door immediately and screamed for Christina, his maid, who scrambled up the stairs wondering if she has forgotten to dust some godforsaken corner (“But I never scream at her,” Erik says). She too saw the bird, she too screamed. The security guard was summoned. He did not scream. Neither did the bird. It had brownish skin, beige-and-white feathers, sharp beak and eyes that showed no fear.
“I recalled scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds where humans were attacked by huge black birds. I thought the bird would gash our eyes,” Erik says. A colleague helped by sms-ing the telephone number (24621939, 24651440) of the Defense Colony-based animal organization Wildlife S.O.S which promised to sent their man ASAP.
Meanwhile Erik, Christina and the guard opened the door to the guest room and hid behind a glass wall. They also opened the balcony door hoping the bird would fly out. Brrrr, the bird did hop out towards the balcony, sat there for twenty minutes and, oh, hopped back to the bed.
“I had a sinking feeling that the bird would also call its family. After all this room has a bed, air-conditioner, television and an attached bathroom,” Erik says. Christina, rather unhelpfully, remarked that the bird wouldn’t even pay rent. Two hours later, the wildlife man who had lost his way appeared with a large cage. Fearlessly he went inside and, after half a minute, fearlessly he came out–with no visible wound!
The bird, neither struggling nor screaming, was firmly held in his hand. “The crisis ended without any bloodshed but that bird did shed many feathers in the room,” Erik says. The Black Kite-that’s what it was–is now, according to the wildlife man, flying in a forest somewhere outside Delhi with no TV, air-conditioner or attached bathroom in the vicinity.
LSD Days in Delhi
On April 29, the father of the ‘problem child’ left for a trip to the other world. Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann who invented lysergic acid diethylamide, a drug better known as LSD, and who later wrote an autobiography titled LSD, My Problem Child died of heart attack this week at his hilltop home in Basel, Switzerland. He was 102.
Little did he imagine that it would become an iconic drug among the hippies and would be known as mellow yellow, window pane, and acid blotter. As a passionate environmentalist he fancied that LSD would bridge the missing link between humankind and the natural world. Instead, the drug became…well…a child gone astray.
Now just another shortcut to instant pleasure, Hofmann’s baby is reduced to rocking rave parties from New York’s Staten Island to New Delhi’s Paharganj cafes.
Rahul Bajaj, a student in the city’s Hansraj College, remembers taking it in a friend’s flat party in North Campus. He says, “It was a longish trip lasting for 10-12 hours. My vision became distorted and I saw pictures moving in their frames, just like in Harry Potter novels. But after a few hours it got too much and I wanted to get out of it.” Ah, a problematic legacy this is.