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Window AC

Rendezvous with grey-winged roosters

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The window AC seems to have a dual purpose - to cool your room and offer a groovy new home for pigeons.

It must be disturbing to live opposite people who yank open their bedroom window at regular intervals to shout out expletives, punch the air conditioner once or twice in disgust and quickly disappear behind the curtain. However, our neighbours should understand that before the air-conditioner arrived, we weren't so cold.

Our window used to slide open gracefully, allow light to stream in and then cruise shut after dark in a manner careful not to hurt the internet cable that goes out from one end. That was the time our sleep was complete, our mouths were purer and we experienced Internet. This would have continued, if only somewhere in the instruction manual of the massive one-ton air conditioner (even in tiny font beside an asterisk), the company had cared to mention its dual purpose - cooling and a groovy new home for pigeons.

Since the day it came home a year ago, the alarm feature on our phones have become redundant. Now, every morning, without fail, promptly as the clock strikes seven, a couple of these grey-winged beings flap furiously as they swoop down on the air conditioner and perch on its many convenient crevices. They then proceed to make the kind of sounds that foist a mental picture of a young Dharmendra who had forgotten all his lines. It's hard to tell through all this persistent guttural grunting if they are merely professing violent love or indulging in another raging argument. 'Cooing is for cowards, we are men', is the implicit message of these urban roosters that grunt progressively.

Though the angle spares us the view of any intimacy, the result is something we are not oblivious to. It makes itself heard, mostly at night. The nocturnal noise of fledglings that squirm and flap in a manner they think is discreet - is enough to put you off horror flicks for a month. Summer, we realised, forces them to take shelter from the sun but winter calls for multiplication. It was no surprise then that eventually, even the AC lost its cool, quite literally. Even at 18 degrees, it would spout out what Madras calls room temperature. And every time we turned it on, we could now hear a buzz.

Soon, advice was sought from everyone we trusted - friends, family, google. It was us, who as part of humankind, had encroached upon the space of the pigeons by cutting down trees and they were merely returning the favour, one website of a bird-control firm said before going on to endorse spikes as a measure. Of course, our idea was not to hurt just to dissuade. Pigeon droppings, after all, are so acidic that they can destroy entire concrete structures. Besides, they are also known to lead to a host of respiratory problems.

So, from stacking the top of the airconditioner with a fake wide-eyed black monkey to sprinkling turmeric all over a piece of paper over it - we tried everything. At one point, the though of installing a gong too crossed our mind. Net or screen would not only mean forfeiting the uninterrupted view but also an added expense that EM-victims cannot afford. Nothing worked, of course, but it did have some unforeseen consequences. Most of my upper arm muscle can be attributed to the repetitive act of hurling things at the curtain in an effort to discourage infestation. Besides, the AC recently underwent repair that set us back by a couple of thousands, so we now think twice before slapping it.

Also, on a trip to Jaipur recently, all we could think about, despite the very detailed audio tour, was how palaces such as Hawa Mahal are now elaborate pigeon loos. In the honeycomb-like windows that queens once used to peep at the world from, pigeons now conduct their daily ablutions and more. It wasn't hard to imagine kings getting along with these winged guests. After all, they served them as postmen.

Now, if these pigeons agreed for a settlement, say they promised to pay a portion of our EMI or at least, the charges for repairing the air-conditioner for starters, we don't mind extending shelter to their progeny either. Even if this means that we would end up sounding like Dharmendra ourselves, after a while.

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