It is 30 minutes past 5 p.m. and the sun prepares to sink into the western sphere. The skies around the Nampally Area Hospital prepare for a spectacle, a daily event for the denizens, but unusual for a first-time visitor.

Two eager kites lay in wait on the branch of a barren tree, and a cat lurks knowingly along the wall of a college building. Two mechanics emerge from the ‘Subbarao Workshop', a road-side automobile shed, with four plastic-bags of fresh poultry waste. One of them climbs atop the college terrace while the other unleashes a rope from the tree, ties the bags and pulls them aloft for his colleague to untie.

Then all of a sudden, one notices a flock of pariah kites emerge from nowhere and perform a kind of ballet in the sky, now swooping down and in the next moment flapping away.

Pieces of meat tossed high by the two boys vanish into the talons of the circling predators. With the kites that have got their catch busying themselves, fresh ones join in. The group feat lasts for the next half-an-hour or so, till the bags are empty, and the birds are full. “You should come on a Friday. There will be over 70 kites,” chuckles Thrimurthy Pillay, the owner of the workshop who spends substantial portion of his income to feed the kites.

He has been doing it for 20 years, and vouches that it has brought him good luck, notwithstanding the belief of bad omen that the pariah kites are associated with.

An animal lover that he is, Mr. Pillay initially started off feeding dogs. Later, he noticed that kites arrived in good numbers to grab the morsel, and started feeding them too.

The number grew over the years, and now he can almost recognise them. The birds come from as far away as Secunderabad, he claims. “I did not let the kites go hungry even during the curfew time. I got permission from the police, had the meat brought from Chintalbasthi and fed them as usual,” he says proudly.

He claims that the kites are a highly disciplined lot, and once fed, they do not come for a second helping.

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