Vantage point

Wednesday, August 07, 2002


I don't like insects. Don't get me wrong, I am not judging without a first hand experience. In fact, I wasn't always a bug-hater. I held a fairly neutral view in this regard. But that was back in Pune. Like everything else about the city, the bugs in Pune are the best ones around.

As I was writing in a mail a few minutes back, Puneri bugs seem to have Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King among their idols. These bugs may infest your bathroom, and jump out of unexpected corners of the closet, but they adhere to the policy of non-violence. In fact, I am darn sure that if you were to borrow the Constitution of the Pune Insects Society, the preamble would go something like - "We, the bugs of Pune...." blah blah blah, and I am sure somewhere they'll say "We believe in the principle of 'Live and let live' and vow to follow it". That's my kind of a bug. I've known so many cockroaches and insects over the years in Pune, but never have they bitten me. Of course there were mosquitoes, but then, that's how they live. NO insect has bitten me without a reason, and I, reciprocating the gesture in full measure don't recall having bitten any. There were some who would come exploring the innards of my ear when I was trying to sleep, and that would bug me a little, but that was it. All in all, peace prevailed.

Cut to July end 2002, when I moved to Lucknow. Here the bugs have no constitution as such. A post-Taliban-pre-Northern Alliance type anarchy prevails. I suspect they circulate videos that extoll the virtues of suicide missions though. The first day i came here, i was worried about mosquitoes. Now, 5 weeks here, and I am yet to encounter a single mosquito. They probably were eaten up by the insects here for a midday meal sometime back. In external appearance, they resemble the bugs back home. Black, brown, and an occasional blue-green thrown in. But their idols would feature Mohammad Atta, Yigal Amir, Dhanu (the woman who killed Rajeev Gandhi), and other Hall of Famers from the Suicide Mission Club. These insects just attack you!! They bite you all over, and they move on to newer areas. They attack in the night, they attack in the day!! They attack in every which way. I have more red marks on my body now than i did during my brief stint with measles (or was it chicken pox?). They will not leave anyone alone. I obviously squash them, not liking it one bit. The insti has got mesh gauze on our windows, but they can't make the room air tight can they? If the big ones don't make it, the tiny brigade crawls under the door. I tried stuffing newspapers under the door to block that route, but somehow they still get in.

Before you suggest me the obvious alternative, let me inform you that the Lucknowi bugs are in an advanced stage of evolution. You know what Darwin said about 'the survival of the fittest' etc? He had these little buggers (totally unintended pun!) in mind when he wrote that. Try Hit, Flit, Baygon, Zero Lines, everything. These bugs scoff, you can almost here them scoff at all the chemicals. They probably collect it, and save it for the winters when they'll want to stay indoors and want some beverage to accompany their pakodas. The gauze does not work either. Exterminators have long quit their trade in Lucknow and moved on to something more rewarding like looting banks.

The only way out is something I read in an Amar Chitra Katha comic once. There was this tiny guy, built on the lines of Tom-thumb, in Japan (now this was before the nuclear bomb, so no mutations, he was naturally tiny). He found life pretty tough, until one day the Emperor heard about him and hired him as his personal bodyguard....against insects!! So this guy would stand guard with his sword and kill every insects and bug that tried to disturb the Emperor. He looked so cute. I am willing to pay big bucks for such service. Any little fella perched on his keyborad/mouse reading this? You've got yourself a job. Even a thumbellina would do, lest I be charged with gender bias.

Now, I had better get back to studies and I shall probably stay up till late. And I won't be alone, there will be a dozen creep crawlies baying for my blood.

AUTHOR'S NOTE - The author would like to apologise in advance to any Bugs Rights Associations who might feel offended due to this post.