Roundabouts, lonely pavements and stone slabs serve as dining areas for pigeons, monkeys and other animals in Delhi

Visit Patel Chowk near Parliament House on any given day at any time from dawn to dusk, you will find scores of pigeons feeding on the makka (maize) or bajra (millet) that never seems to be in short supply there.

Patel Chowk, though, is not the only prime location for these winged creatures to dine. There are several ‘dining spaces’ earmarked for them around Connaught Place, India Gate , Chanakyapuri, Delhi Gate, Chandni Chowk, Karol Bagh and a number of other locations across the Capital. Even the traffic police choose to look the other way when people stop their vehicles to leave bird feed.

Though the city may be managing to keep its monkey population away from office buildings by hiring langoors, they too have their ‘eating places’. On the lonely pavements, near the protected or unprotected green belts, one may wonder what the banana-sellers are doing here -- surely no one is going to come here to buy fruit. But just wait.

The moment a car or a scooter or a cycle stops there, a bunch of monkeys suddenly descend from the forest area. They know for sure that someone is going to buy them the bananas they love to eat. If it happens to be Tuesday or Saturday, religious beliefs ensure that the flow of ‘visitors’ to feed the monkeys continues throughout the day. Rahul, who sells bananas in the area, says that on such days the volume of people who come to feed the monkeys can be gauged by the number of banana peels that litter the place. He has also spotted neelgai who come from the forest area in search of food. There are many locations where people specially go to feed cows. Over a thousand people visit one of the goshallas in Karol Bagh every day from 4 am to 8 pm. Some give the cows fodder, some gur channa and others give laddoos made of seven different ingredients.

In Lodhi Gardens, close to many of the trees, are kept slabs of stones (they look like tiny dining tables) and pots filled with water. The moment the squirrels see visitors carrying peanuts, these otherwise shy creatures suddenly turn friendly and don’t mind taking the nuts or other eateries directly from the palm.These feeding centres, or dining spaces for the birds and the four-legged creatures have become an essential part of our urbanscape. If we urbanites have taken over the habitation of animals, as Sohail Hashmi wrote in this column a few weeks ago, the least we can do is give them back their fee(d).

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