Epiphoney Columns

Animal instincts

Sir Attenborough has taught us so much about the animal kingdom, but he has never told us how to incorporate these learnings into our lives so that we can live better, happier, and with more #gratitude hashtag sprinkles. Thank the lord for me. Here goes:

1. Pearlfish live in the anus of sea cucumbers. Lesson: it’s not just good to be an ass, you can infest one and still be happy. So stop being nice to people unnecessarily.

2. When not mating, sloths live alone. I think my respect for their pragmatism just went up a full 1000%.

3. Magpies let other birds bring up their kids. Wives of South Delhi/Bombay also do this, which explains why kids speak Nepalese or some Northeastern dialects way before English in these parts.

4. Koalas only come down to defecate or to move to another location for food. Frankly, I see nothing wrong with that and during this pandemic we have all learned to live and prosper like koalas.

5. Shoebill statuesque-ness. If you have never seen one then get ready to meet a bird that will put an 1800s English dandy on Savile Row to shame. Cultured, refined, they look bespoke, till they suddenly pounce on their prey, kill it and devour it gorily. I’d like to be precisely that at my next board meeting.

6. Squirrels forget their acorn stash, which then become trees. Conclusion: it’s good to forget for that is how the biggest ideas are germinated. Don’t berate yourself for forgetting anniversaries and birthdays; just know that something good will come of it, like say a giant oak tree, the wood of which you can use to build yourself a house once the family throws you out.

Animal instincts

7. Gentoo penguins propose with a pebble. I appreciate how they like to keep things simple. And affordable! I mean, finally a rock I can afford to go down on a knee with.

8. Mola mola have no pain receptors. And with a face like that, this would help deflect snide comments. This is the same attitude many humans should adopt too, the kind who aren’t leaders or pioneers — front-line journalists, politicians, fashion designers, DJs, bussers, government employees…the worker ants, if one may draw the comparison without trying to deride the work that ants do. Please be oblivious to criticism and a harsh word or four because, irrespective of whether you deserve it or not, you will certainly get a lot of it. And being numb would only help with your chances of survival.

9. Dolphins were river animals but then decided to chuck it all and bought a one-way downstream ticket to the sea. A sign of what city life is really worth.

10. Tinder and Bumble reduce the art of congress to a mere bodily transaction when, in fact, it should be an elaborate dance executed by the human equivalent of a dancing male Bird of Paradise (aka Channing Tatum), who puts up a glorious colourful show to woo its partner. Legendary stuff worthy of being made into a movie with at least three sequels. Let’s remember that the next time we ask our date to split the bill.

11. Daily torpor: this isn’t an animal but a behaviour. Animals lower their metabolic rate when resources are scarce. This helps them survive. We know it works with humans too because nobody ever took a weekend off to laze and didn’t come out feeling stronger and better. QED: hard work is a lie.

This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 5:58:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/animal-instincts/article35478751.ece

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