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07.06.2018

There’s little to thank app-based taxi services for this week, but there’s something about the sweaty end of a night out spent trying to get a radio taxi or auto to take you home that sticks in the mind. (It’s the sweatiness.)

We are meditating on body odour and how it’s controlled by our seamlessly air-conditioned existence as we set off in search for a community-built curiosity - an aviary, built by local football club in Srirampura, Gowtham Nagar to replace a stinking garbage dump and delight passersby that once avoided this eyesore. The report was scant on details, but we walk undeterred.

It begins with a stroll down a quiet lane in lush Malleswaram that door side pick-ups have all but caused us to forget. There’s the crack in the pavement on the way to the bus stop; there’s the spot our muscle memory still knows to skip over because it’s where the neighbour’s new puppy unfailingly left the neighbourhood a souvenir after its morning constitutional. We know to cross the street halfway to our destination so we’ll pass under a honeysuckle canopy, through a cloud of sweet fragrance that we hope will cling to our skin for the rest of the day.

Is there a more walkable neighbourhood in Bangalore than Malleswaram? Overcome by Insta-hashtag-wanderlust (and energised by a plate of the best idli-vada in town, at Veena Stores), we venture a bit further than the end of our street, into lanes that others call home. At a football club in Srirampura, a rousing match is underway, enthusiastically kibbitzed by teenagers, whose bodies bend in empathy to the action on the field. We smell the slicks of silver fish before we see them - gleaming mountains at a stall, tempting humans and stray kittens planning dinner. Thunder rumbles; monsoon has hit the Malabar coast. Are we in for some kitchen slops?

An insistent chirruping reminds us of the mission. Birds are at hand, very close to the football ground. Have we found the former Mount Doom? Yes: around the corner, we confront a pint-sized aviary, filled to the brim with a flock of lovebirds, determined to be cheerful in defiance of gloomy skies. Even an ornithophobe has to admit that they’re cute. (Sorry: all the sky rats have traumatised us.) We delight in the flitting of these fluorescent fowl for a few minutes, much to the amusement of their jaded human neighbours.

If you come on this walk, reader, delight in the birds, and then look to a quiet corner for a cemetery, a beautiful, Enid-Blyton-school-mystery sort of place. As we wander about reading inscriptions and imagining family histories, true to form, a grim-faced groundskeeper straight out of the Famous Five appears to escort us out. The cemetery is closed, come back tomorrow, he informs us firmly. He softens as he sees our disappointment. It’s been around for a hundred years, he says gently. It’ll be here whenever you come back.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about funny people and odd things. Find her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

Photo Credit: instagram.com/athreshgmail

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