Thursday, May 31, 2007


Are birds really that stupid? My previous article would seem to say so, but the reality is far, far different. Birds are actually very intelligent. Empirical Evidence suggests that they do indeed solve non-linear partial differential equations while they fly; they do have a reasonably philosophical insight into quantum mechanics. I regret the stand taken in my previous post and I retract the same in all humility.

Their genius lies in looking aloof. The are great at looking like they're stupid, when in reality, they are little Einstiens flying around deriving E = m * c^2 in their heads. It is birds, not us who run this planet. We spent millenia trying to imitate them (by flying) - and we still need airports with huge conrtrete run-ways. How smart can we be?

How do I know this? Ah, that's because of N'kisi, the parrot.

Birds, in general, are quite good at keeping secrets. They have not let us know that they are incredibly intelligent. (When I say "all birds are intellegent", I mean "all" with the exception of dodos. Only idiots would go extinct before taking over the world. Evolve better or die.)

Just like every dam has a leak and every rose has its thorn, every species has its lunatic. Someone who would love to let the proverbial cat out of the bag. And that someone is N'kisi, the parrot.

N'kisi is a foolish bird. It pays no attention in school when the teachers are discussing the commandment of secrecy. It is busy eating some worms. So when the teacher goes onto "we shall never let any other species even suspect....", N'kisi is eating the aforementioned worm with great relish. It licks the slimy scales of the worm and ingests it like a grad student would ingest a Ramen Noodle. To N'kisi, the teacher is as good as inexistent.

In a few days after "graduation", N'kisi lured a human into captivity - a moved "frowned upon" by the feathered elders, but not strictly taboo. N'kisi made the human pamper it with milk - and loads and loads of sumptuous maggots. In return, N'kisi derived the grand unification theory of quantum mechanics and general relativity on a peice of paper, but the human thought it was some illegible garbage and threw that paper away.

N'kisi then realised that the average human would not know opportunity if it bit them in the bottom. So, N'kisi decided on a slightly more devious course of action. It would excite the humans by uttering some "cute words" every now and then. It could laugh its head off by looking at the interest generated amongst people.

So, next time someone showed it a picture of a guy popping his head out of a car, N'kisi bellowed "Uh-oh, you put your head out!". On smelling some nice oils, it exclaimed "Pretty smell medicine". You can see how much excitement it would have generated (and it did).

Feathered Elder the Esteemed Kiki was not a very happy parrot. It was a learned bird with greying feathers and a flowing white beard to boot. It was in the twilight of its life, but it was a passionate philosopher, nevertheless. It had written down the grand unification theory in a poem form which went:

Water bird eat pig
I buy you new wig.

Brick cat eat mat.
Happy bubble is cat.

Big fat man is meat
When he dies we will eat.

We will become big fat bird,
Big fat man will eat us then.

This poem was considered a gem. That the last two lines did not rhyme added to the mystery, the intrigue of the poem. This poem was Kiki's highest point in life. But I digress. This is N'kisi's story. Kiki's story will be told. Not today, though.

Kiki had never seen anything like this before. No bird had ever been stupid enough to spill the beans to the humans. If the humans ever got to know the secret, there would be hell to pay fo all the birds. It was okay that dogs knew : they never could harm anyone except each other. But man was a particularly stupid yet malicious animal. An animal that should have been pecked into extinction by those negligent vultures millions of years ago.

Kiki was apalled that N'kisi was so insensitive. It decided to have N'kisi killed. Brutally snuffed.

Moral of Story:

Independent thought is a dangerous thing, even if you are a parrot. You must always conform to society, or else someone will kill you. Brutally snuff you.

(I would also like to tell you that I did not think of this story myself.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Three Stupid Birds

Birds are not known for their intelligence. As a matter of fact, most of them are just plain stupid. They don't solve partial differential equations in their free time; all they do is make those irritating chirping noises. They don't ponder over the meaning on life while sailing the silken blue sky; they chase worms instead.

Three instances demonstrating the intellectual negligibility of birds are documented herewith, lest some people succumb to the temptation of conceding that birds are actually intelligent. After reading this article, the reader will never look at a bird and go "If only I could understand what that little guy is thinking!". Because that bird is probably thinking of worms to eat, little else.

Let us go back to July 2004, a time when lots of people I knew were graduating from IIT Madras. I was not, but a lot of my colleagues were. And we were sitting in that jam-packed auditorium in that miserable Chennai Heat (it was 38+ outside). And guess what was flying inside the auditorium? A bird. Damn thing was trying its best to get out. But all it would do is try to fly out, bang into a transparent window, fall down and repeat the aforementioned procedure ad nauseam. Rather than watch my friends graduate, I watched the bird confuse itself. It made me wonder: how did the damn thing ever eat? How did it grow so old?

Say whatever you might want to about the average bird, but you would never expect to see a bird make mistakes while flying. The bird might not have a philosophical understanding of Quantum Mechanics, but it surely knows where it is flying. No chance of it banging into a tree or something. No chance of it hitting a gradual cyclist, you might say. But you're wrong. A clueless crow actually banged (beak first) into yours truly - when I was biking near the hostel. I had a scratch for a couple of days on my person as evidence for the vicious attack.

This stupidity is certainly not just limited to avians in the sub-continent. The lack of intellect is universal - as evidenced by a recent incident in College Station. Here's what happened. I was walking down the street and I heard a mild "thud". I thought it was a meteor or something and was shocked for a moment. I looked around to investigate and there was a pigeon which appeared shaken. It was stumbling on the ground. What happened was that the stupid bird forgot to flap its wings and hit the ground. (It probably was thinking: "I know I'm supposed to be doing something now. What could it be?").

Of course there are stupider birds in the world. There's the sparrow which hit the fan in my bed room once, but I don't want to document it as stupid as the poor soul is no more. There's the parrot which bit me when I was two years old - but I don't want this post to look like personal vendetta, so I won't mention that either.

For once I feel thankful that I am a human and not a bird. But lots of people will contend that I am as stupid as one of the birds for writing this post. I can't say that they are entirely wrong.