My car in the Block parking lot is the only one that is the pigeon’s favourite. No, it isn’t an SUV or a Sedan… it is a fourteen year old hatchback with the R from Wagon R having dropped off a few months back. There are scratches on every side, but then that is a so-Delhi feature that it doesn’t hurt anymore. But we always found it intriguing to find half a dozen pigeons perched on it every time we come out of the lift and walk towards it.
‘These pigeons are getting bolder,’ I observed, ‘and now they keep sitting there until we open the car door. It is as if they want to go with us on our trips.’
Specky smiled and replied, ‘Thank goodness, they aren’t crows… like the ones we see perched on the MCD garbage dumper!’
We also noticed that though these pigeons tend to be perched on our car, they had never left their tell-tale semi-liquid excreta even once. Even the chowkidar was surprised and so after the initial attempts to shoo them away, he now let them perch in peace.
‘They probably like your car, saab,’ the chowkidar said with a smile.
But Specky had her own interpretation. She said, ‘I know the answer. You don’t have ‘Govt. of India’ written anywhere on the car.’ She said this theory had enough proof, because a few of the other cars around were invariably full of pigeon muck and some were indeed belonging to Sarkari babus. No, the car doesn’t have a ‘Press’ sticker either. And so I think these pigeons have no grouse against an honest aam aadmi.
As we opened the car, we could discern the pigeons hopping on to positions nearer the open doors… and then fly away as we started the car. ‘It’s funny,’ I said, ‘why do they hop nearer fearlessly? Are they trying to tell us something?’
Specky simply said, ‘Ask them.’
So one day I asked them.
One morning, I gently murmured, ‘Why do you favour this car so much?’ And to my surprise, one of them spoke up, ‘Good that you asked. We can tell you everything but promise you’ll keep the door open for a few seconds more than you generally do… every time.’
‘I promise,’ I said and opened the door.
‘Aha!’ said the pigeon happily and all of them crowded around the open door inhaling deeply. I was keen to know if this was some kind of mumbo-jumbo or a tantric ritual amongst the pigeons, and asked apprehensively, ‘Anything wrong? Have I done anything wrong?’
‘No,’ replied the English-speaking pigeon and went on, ‘Your car gives out a heavenly fragrance and we all love it. I get all the eligible bachelors from the pigeon world to come and inhale deeply and get rid of the bad odours that surround some of them. This helps them find the best brides for themselves without having to puff up and dance incessantly.’
‘Ah! So you’re a pigeon marriage broker?’
‘No, not at all. I am a pigeonthropist like you guys have philanthropists and am working for the good of pigeons,’ he said, ‘the fragrance from your car transforms these bachelor pigeons into eligible bachelor pigeons. So we wait here every day.’
The English-speaking pigeon told me that his batches had strict instructions never to harm my car, for it was like a temple for them now. ‘The fragrant temple of matrimony,’ the pigeon helpfully said.
I mumbled a ‘thank you’ and asked, ‘Do you want to know the source of this wonderful, heavenly, life-changing fragrance?’
He cocked his head and waited patiently for more.
‘It’s the Ambipur vent clip that you see there. It gives out this Lavender Comfort that you guys adore,’ I said, and then added, ‘I agree it is a nice fragrance.’
‘Nice fragrance?’ said the pigeon, ‘that fragrance makes us fly higher and fly into hearts, that fragrance makes the world ceases to stink. I suggest you let this magical object clipped there reach your parliament too.’
I kept quiet as I didn’t want to sound unpatriotic in front of mere pigeons. So I let the pigeon go on about his job until he finally asked, ‘All my groups have always wanted to hear about the story behind this fragrance.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I became an Ambipur fan during one of my road trips to Modinagar.’ When this was translated to the other pigeons I could discern a lot of fluttering of wings and some sort of an insistent commotion. The English-speaking one turned to me and said, ‘They want to hear the story of that trip. One of them is a blogger. He says he will blog about it and let the entire pigeon world be aware of your story.’
This was an emotional moment indeed, and so I said, ‘OK. Come on inside. I’ll drive to my workplace and tell you the story as we drive.’ Obviously, the chowkidar was surprised to find me driving out with a load of pigeons and he surely must’ve mumbled, ‘Saab is going the pigeon way. Age is merciless!’
But we were happily driving with me telling that grand story when I was introduced to Ambipur.
‘It was just after a heavy downpour,’ I began, ‘my wife and I were driving from Delhi to Modinagar where my niece was studying chemical engineering. There was a cool breeze blowing.’
‘It’s cool today,’ said Specky, ‘why don’t we roll down the window panes?’
‘Yes, why not?’ So we let the breeze come in and play with our hair. But along with it came the smelly molecules of diesel and petrol fumes too. But our happiness to drive with the windows rolled down was too over-powering and we went on that way.
Just a few kilometres away a burst of villainous odours came sprinting inside and Specky’s nostrils did some yogic twists and she said, ‘Oh! No… now what sort of smell is this?’
‘Dead carcases,’ I informed her, ‘we’re passing by Gazipur. This is where the slaughter house is.’
‘Horrible!’ she said, but still did not insist on shutting the windows.
Gazipur went by and the dead carcases remained with us for some distance until another bouquet of rotting smells entered. I looked around and then announced even before Specky’s nostril muscles did another ‘horrifying nach baliye’, ‘This is not as serious as the Gazipur odour. There is a cremation ground to your right and the smell of burning flesh is coming from there.’ Specky closed her eyes until we were a good fifteen minutes away from it.
I could see that the English-speaking pigeon was getting restless. ‘These smells and bad odours are what we face every day. That is why we come and perch on your car. Tell us how you met Ambipur.’
I said, ‘You need to wait patiently and listen to the whole story.’ This was when we were negotiating the massive PaharGanj crossing and I saw a traffic cop waving me to stop. He came, and as I rolled down the window, he asked, ‘Talking on the mobile? Hand me your licence and your Bluetooth device.’
I said, ‘I’m not carrying my mobile today. I don’t bother about old technology like Bluetooth devices. And I was talking to my pigeons here.’ The cop said nothing but suddenly brought his nose perilously close to mine and said, ‘You don’t seem drunk.’
‘Why can’t a citizen of India talk to friendly pigeons while driving?’ I asked.
‘Theek hai,’ he said, ‘you can go. But hire a driver if you want to keep talking to pigeons.’ I’m sure the traffic cops now have this hilarious story of a driver who talked to pigeons! I drove on and the story continued…
So the journey from Delhi to Modinagar was full of a medley of odours, most of them bad and unwelcome. There were garbage dumps, burning crop, rotting plants in stagnant water… and so the first thing we did as we entered the small town of Modinagar, was to search for an Auto Accessories shop.
‘What do you recommend for bad odours inside a car?’
The guy at the counter belched some said something that smelled like radishes and I said, ‘Mooli?’ He blinked, got up and brought a pack of Ambipur and told me that this will solve my problem.
‘I don’t know that,’ he said unhelpfully, and added, ‘but you can read the pumplee.’
‘Read the pumplee,’ I said, confused, until I realised that he was asking me to read the pamphlet or the product insert that was inside. I thanked him and gave it to Specky and said, ‘Read the pumplee and fix it.’ No, I didn’t get unholy stares from her as she was already numbed by the myriad bad odours that had been attacking her senses throughout the journey. I suppose then that numbed senses hear ‘pumplee’ as pamphlet, because that is what she did and fixed the device in a jiffy.
Well, the pamphlet did not tell us much except asking us to avoid a direct touch with the eyes and the face… and a couple of other warnings. But as we rolled up the windows, we discovered that we were in a lavender heaven in seconds. Even the memory of the bad odours seemed to have disappeared! So Specky took out her Galaxy S3, browsed the net, and told me, ‘You know, this Ambipur is supposed to eliminate bad odours and not just mask them. I think you’ve made a good purchase.’
I was a happy husband.
But the story doesn’t end here. As I opened the door on reaching my niece’s hostel, her first response was, ‘Wow! This fragrance is superb!’ And then called her friends too… and after a few ‘wows’ we just went for a ride around Modinagar.
‘Modinagar looks so different from inside a car,’ said one.
Another friend countered, ‘Modinagar smell so much better from inside the car!’ We laughed and agreed on the smell part! Modinagar streets have an over-powering smell of bargars (that’s how the kiosks spell burgers in Modinagar), Momos, and paneer pakodas… and we did smell a lot of it when we stepped out to have a glass of the famous Modinagar’s Jain Shikanjeee!
‘Even shikanjee smells like bargars here,’ I joked and we hurried back into the odour-secure zone of our car.
I must tell you that throughout the return journey we kept the windows shut and Specky’s regular commentary was… ‘This is where that rotting smell came in…’ or ‘This is where the carcases burn…’ or ‘This is where the animals are slaughtered…’ but never once did we smell anything but the lavender comfort inside!
‘This was the story of how we stumbled on to this wonder device! And we now escape into freshness whenever we drive.’ I said. The English-speaking pigeon was happy and in the rest of the journey to my office, it coo-roo-c’too-cooed the story to his group. On reaching the office, I asked, ‘You guys are so far away from your usual place of perch. Hope you can make it back flying? If not, wait until the evening and we’ll go back together.’
‘Don’t worry about us,’ said the pigeonthropist, ‘we can fly up to 600 miles in a day at around 50 miles per hour. See you tomorrow morning… and thanks for sharing this great story… and allowing us too to escape into your Ambipur freshness.’
I’m sure the story has by now travelled all over the pigeon space and the promised blog has been read by most. I’m sure the pigeons are tweeting and re-tweeting the story umpteen times… and so whenever you see pigeons perched on a car but not messing it with their poo, you can safely assume that Ambipur is inside! But don’t let the politician know of this secret or they will all insist on having Ambipur fixed to their sculptures too… and we don’t want that to happen, do we?
This post is a part of the Ambipur ‘Escape into freshness whenever you drive’ blogging contest on Indiblogger.
11 August 2013