House of Parrots

Getting up before the dawn these days is not in the easiest task for many out there, no matter whether it is during the week or at the weekends.
Falling back to sleep snuggled by the comforter in the coldest mornings is certainly a million-dollar wish.
But for Hari and Geetha, an expatriate couple, it is the other way round for their numerous guests who make it a point to wake them up chirping and cooing at the window panes every morning. And the hosts, inadvertently prepare these vocal creatures’ food for the day as has been the habit for the past 12 years.
A congregation of nearly 200 parrots, pigeons and sparrows, in clockwise precision, visits the house in Al Falaj street in Ruwi at 5.30 every morning and by 3 in the afternoon for they know their hosts must be awaiting them with maze, sunflower seeds, rice and the like.
“This has been my family’s routine for the past 13 years and the very sight of several hundreds of them, without fault, make it a point to visit my balcony, gleefully eat the foods that we keep outside and fly away in contentment is a soothing experience”, says Hari who runs a garage in Mawaleh and his wife Geetha.
A number of diverse parrots have been so far spotted by the couple. As and when they spot a new kind, they revert to the encyclopaedia for its identity and many global types have been identified so far. Alexandrian, Plum Heads, Monk Parakeets and, rarely, Yellow parrots, plum-headed, Amazon, yellow Caracat, rose ring parrots are some of the guests spotted here while a diverse range of lovebirds- South African, budgees and sparrows from across the continents, and different coloured pigeons are guests to this country.
However, having love for this creatures has also evoked a kind of ornithology in the minds of their neighbours as well. They are by now used to the pandemonium triggered by these birds every morning.
“I had my inhibitions in the beginning days of how our neighbours would take this whole activity but thankfully, it is with their support that we are able to feed these birds.”
He said they didn’t want to move from this 2-bedroom apartment just because they didn’t want to abandon these birds who take a flight of hope every morning.
Although the visit of this exclusive guests has been a routine since 2005, there have been breaks during their vacations when they go home for a month or so.
“But the news of our return spreads fast and most of the birds are back the very next if not the same day,” adds Hari.
And, feeding them twice a day is not without any burden on this couple. These parrots consume 2kg-3kg of sunflower seeds and 1kg-1.5kg of rice every day, adding RO 60 to Hari Kumar’s monthly food bill.
Although Geetha and Hari have tried to introduce some variety in the menu, laying out chillies, paddy husk and fruits like guava, apple and bananas on the food trays, they remained untouched and they had to clear them as they are. As they have now learned from experience, Hari doesn’t serve anything other than the regular sunflower seeds and rice.
The food is dutifully laid out at 5 am in the winters and 10 pm during summers for their morning feed.

KABEER YOUSUF