City Moment – Bird Catcher, Bulbuli Khana
The beautiful Delhi instant.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla was one afternoon taking a stroll in a by-lane in Bulbuli Khana, a cramped neighbourhood in Old Delhi. The only public spaces that are wide and airy in this part of the Walled City are courtyards in the area’s mosques. The neighbourhood, however, is remarkable for its old-world character. The houses are ancient and the doorways are beautiful. Goats dart down the narrow alleys, women are seen in veils and old men gather around chai stalls. Reaching a turning I found an incredible sight.
A pigeon was perched on an overhanging electric wire. A boy, standing on the second floor balcony of a house, was calling out to the bird. “Aaa ja. Aaa ja. Aaa ja.” A crowd had collected in the street. Everyone was looking up at the boy who kept repeating, “Aaa ja. Aaa ja. Aaa ja.” He spread out his arms but the bird was too far. It would not move. “Aaa ja. Aaa ja. Aaa ja.” A moment later, the bird fluttered its wings, and hopped towards the boy. He took it in his hands. The crowd cheered.
As the people started to disperse, the boy came down into the street. He was wearing jeans. His cotton kurta was printed with blue stripes. The boy showed his catch to a tourist, who hesitatingly but lovingly tapped on the bird’s forehead. While the wings were white, the rest of the bird’s body was brown. Holding it gently in his hands, the boy then turned towards me. “What will you do with it?” I asked. “I’ll eat it.” He started laughing. “No, no. I’m joking. I’ll set the bird free.” It was a beautiful moment.
I got the bird!
Shh, bite his finger
Now, please set the bird free