The Pigeon Man of Kolkata

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As I walked one day from the Jadavpur Police station More to the Tipu Sultan Masjid More, along the Prince Anwar Shah Road, I left ‘South City’ and moved further ahead. There is nothing to see at ‘South City’ beyond the memories of those whose homes were destroyed and whose lives were snuffed out by ‘unknown’ people so that it could host an ‘international’ school, a snazzy mall and a gated community for ‘respectable’ citizens.

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I moved further on. On the left, much after Lords More, I saw my pigeon-man, Bubai Datta. He lives in a ramshackle hutment on the pavement and often sleeps in the clearing of the pavement itself. And he lives with his dogs, rabbits and most importantly scores of pigeons.

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He feeds them, selectively mates them, takes care of them, flies them and lives with them. He says that this is his addiction, just like some people are addicted to gambling. He rattles off names of pigeon varieties he has – Kashmiri, Madrasi, Kagji, Soleman-Kagji, Lokka, Jira and many, many others.

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He spends about 4000 Takas every month on the pigeons. He works as a helper in the kitchen of a restaurant. He used be a room-cleaner before – what the ‘happening’ folks call ‘house-keeping’.

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He works all day and then rushes back to his pigeons after that. He says these are his children. As he spoke to me, some pigeons flew in and perched thermselves on his head, shoulder and back.

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He even has a police case against him regarding pigeons, for which he has to go to the court every now and then. The glow of the footpath of my city can make night into day. That glow dazzles my eyes in my city Kolkata, in my country Bengal.

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