In Focus

Feeding Even Those Who Fly!

By Sonal Aggarwal

Few would be aware of the presence of Marine Lines police personnel Chandrakant Bhalerao, posted at Nariman Point in Mumbai during the COVID-19 pandemic or even aware the enormity of his work. Each time, for the past fortnight, this man alights from his chair at the fag end of Marine Drive, hundreds of pigeons swoop down encircling him, almost sitting on him.

Marine Lines police personnel Chandrakant Bhalerao posted at Nariman Point
has become a familiar figure for the avians
And, why not? In the two months of his posting at the spot, Chandrakant has become a familiar figure for the avians, fed at regular intervals. "There are very few people who come down here now. With the lockdown in place, hardly anyone comes down here. Just the handful of Jain regulars who come every few days only to give sackfuls of grain and the thousands of pigeons who come down at regular intervals for their meals," says Chandrakant, who has completed 33 years in police service.

Every couple of  hours or so, the man, bogged down by age, drudgery of routine and the heat, gets up to feed the birds as a rule. And, nature, true to its wont, comes from every direction at his beck. "Inko bohut problem ho gaya hai," says Chandrakant, on the birds who have nobody to feed them. "Ab tourists bhi nahin toh inko bhooka hi rehna padta agar ye logon ne daana nahin diya hota."

Mr Bhalerao at Nariman Point police chowky
Apparently, the Jain regulars, deprived of their daily exercise - prevented from walking or jogging in and around Nariman Point and Marine Drive owing to the lockdown across India, haven't missed out on performing their religious duty: Feeding the pigeons. They come down and deliver the grains to the make-shift chowky at Nariman Point for the personnel in charge who feeds the pigeons at intervals of two hours from 8 am onwards till the last of their lot arrive in the evening. "Ghar jaate jaate bohut khushi milti hai," says Chandrakant after every day of performing his duty and a little more.

And, with the absence of humans across the zone, the birds are sure a lucky lot to have Chandrakant as their savior. Few policemen would go beyond their line of duty to 'feed the birds' as a rule, in the times of COVID-19. The man deserves a flurry of claps!!!

On 25 April 2020, marking the successful completion of exactly a month since the national lockdown began, The Draft, in conjunction with DraftCraft Films, released 'Lights, Sound ... Lockdown' - a documentary capturing 'Mumbai In The Time Of COVID-19' at Ground Zero.