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Urban Junkie

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Territorial rights

A squirrel that has recently moved into our bathroom windowsill has become the source of much friction in the Boogie-Gypsy-Anjali household. Well, it hasn’t quite moved in yet, but it has been proclaiming its intention for several days in the form of an ever-growing nest on the windowsill. It began earlier this week when I noticed a fluffy ball of what looked like cottonwool carefully propped up between the partially-raised glass and the window grill. It was joined the next day by a couple of dried twigs, and shortly thereafter by (I think) bark from the banana tree. And so it went, with grass and leaves (and something unrecognizable that I don’t care to delve into) being added on a daily basis, until quite suddenly a densely woven nest appeared on the windowsill.

The source of the friction I mentioned above is a) my obvious enchantment with the nest building process, which has left B&G mildly irritated and b) my reluctance to dismantle the nest before things go any further – which, according to Boogie, has left them both stunned. Squirrels, as everyone knows, are unequivocally the Worst Enemies of dogs. Not all dogs, of course, but certainly of Dogs Who Are Scared of Cats, Mice and Monkeys. For such dogs (and they are a very special breed) squirrels inspire all known forms of canine aggression that may otherwise have been directed at other animals. Raised hackles, frantic barking, running furious circles around the dining table … deadly weapons, all, brought to the fore by the mere whiff of a certain loathsome bushy tailed creature.

How, then, could I even contemplate letting this squirrel into our home? Besides, says Gypsy impatiently, what is the big deal about building a nest? And how come I’ve never once admired her daily artistry with the cushions and bedcover? Far more complex to weave together, and much more comfortable than a twiggy nest.

I fail to understand this lack of empathy for a fellow creature’s efforts. How would they feel, I ask them, if they’d sweated it out night and day to build themselves a house – and they came back home one evening to find their hard work ruthlessly torn to shreds? And if it was cold and rainy and they had nowhere warm to go? (Actually the weather’s been quite bright and sunny, but nothing like some emotional appeal to win an argument, I always say. Besides, Bangalore can turn cold and rainy any time).

B&G are clearly unimpressed, though. How do you think our neighbors might feel, says Boogie with heavy sarcasm, if you suddenly decided to build yourself a home in their backyard? If you filled up a suitcase everyday and deposited it in their yard? What are the odds that they’d look at the result of your efforts with tear-glazed eyes and say “let the poor thing stay”?

Irritatingly enough, I cannot immediately think of a convincing response to that argument. The matter is far from resolved, though. The bathroom door remains firmly shut, to guard against any unexpected accidents. Perhaps I should put this into an audience vote, seeing as I’m lagging behind somewhat in the rational debate?

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