Thursday 4 February 2016

Crows and Seagulls

Crows & Seagulls 

I was returning home to Mumbai from Alibaug earlier today by the catamaran and my phone battery died on me.  

This allowed me for a change to sit and do nothing.  

I sat staring out of the window and watching the small ripples on the surface of the water and their silvery reflection.  

I also just sat and watched the seagulls fly around the boat.   

Everytime I see seagulls I think about Jonathan Livingston Seagull and his quest to become enlightened.  

Perfection in flight was his path to self realisation.  

He aspired to reach a stage of perfection when all that was needed to fly from one spot to another was not the physical act of flying but simply the thought !!! 

Quite a few seagulls were flying alongside the boat and I marvelled at their skill.  They flew with so much grace and power and strength. 

I was sitting in the enclosed air conditioned cabin, when a boy standing on the deck outside the cabin, started throwing biscuits to the seagulls.  

Soon, all hell broke loose and dozens of seagulls suddenly appeared and desperately started diving to catch the biscuit piece before it hit the water.   

The skill they displayed was simply awesome.  

The boat was not only moving along at a brisk pace but also moving up and down along with the waves and the boy was throwing biscuits at an angle and I marvelled at the seagull's ability to judge all this in a split second and dive and catch the biscuit,  all the time while it jostled for the right spot amongst the other seagulls in flight.  

Later the boy upped the ante by simply holding the biscuit in his hand.  

Now, it was harder as the seagull had to first align itself perfectly in space and dive in, overcome its fear of the human and at the same time make it own space amongst the dozens of other seagull aiming for the same piece of bread at the same time .   The bird only had a fraction of a second to get hold of the biscuit before the physics of flight took away the opportunity and it had to circle back and try again. 

I noticed that the boy had dropped lots of biscuits on the deck but somehow the seagulls seemed to ignore that.  
They continued their awesome TopGun manoeuvres.  

I simply sat transfixed and marvelled at their strength and speed and grace. 

As we came closer to Mumbai, a half dozen crows started flying alongside the boat.

These crows looked so ordinarily when compared to those beautiful white and grey seagulls. 

I noticed that they didn't fly with the same grace and control with which the seagulls flew. 

Yet, the crows quickly drove the seagulls away.    It seemed that we had now entered the crow's territorial waters and even the seagulls knew this and left without a fight. 

The boy continued to throw the biscuits at the crows but then I noticed that rather than undertake the excruciatingly hard Top-Gun manoeuvres, the crows simply landed on the deck of the ship and started eating the huge amount of biscuits simply lying there. 

I had to admire the crows.  In the next 5 minutes they managed to eat for more biscuits than those seagulls  had in the preceding 45 minutes and yet they had not expended 1/1000th of the energy which those seagulls had expended. 

I started Comrades training earlier this Tuesday.   The Comrades Ultra Marathon is an 89 km race which takes place in South Africa and held on the road between Durban and PMB.  

As I enter the 51st year of my life, I have neither the power, the grace nor the skill of an athlete runner. 

I don't have it now nor did I have it in my youth. 

I'm not the seagull.  

I will never be able to power up the hills nor glide down the valleys on that road between PMB and Durban. 

I will never be able to dazzle, I will never be able to astonish. I will never be able to shine.   

I need to be more like the crow.  

I need to know my limitations and work within them to somehow survive and pick up that medal at the finish line without having to call on my non-existent TopGun skills. 

Sitting in the boat earlier today I realised that the lack of skill does not mean that the crow does not get the biscuit.   

He had something else working for him. 

Sometimes a little bit of experience and wisdom may see one through ! 

Experience I have.  I have been on that road before.  

I now only hope that I have the requisite wisdom in good measure.  

Wisdom to see me though in the days and months of training ahead. 

And then, I hope that the same experience and wisdom will see me through on race day.  

Crows give me hope. 

Here's to the Crows of the World !!! 


  1. Very well said! This gives hope to all average runners

  2. exceedingly well written...very interesting until the last line...the last word...

  3. Very inspirational narration. Way to go :)

  4. Beautifully drafted and put together. I would love a bounty mix of crow and seagull propelling me to fly :)

  5. I would thank your dead phone battery for the wonderful story...

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