Today, I decided to test if it was safe for me to sit on a two wheeler. (Background info: I recently had a surgery on my lower back.) My dad decided to take me out on a short drive nearby.
I’m in Coimbatore now, and our home is very close to Bharathiar University. The University is located almost at the foothills of the scenic Marudhamalai hills(bet if you’re Tamil and you read this, you just thought of “Marudhamalai maamaniye Murugaiyya“) and boasts of a spectacularly beautiful campus. BU has been around for a while, but its recent merger or partnership or whatever with Anna University has expanded their campus across quite an impressive area.
The campus is situated in the middle of what used to be a full forest, and still is, to an extent; a wonderland of sorts, where a quick trip inside would lead you to various species of birds and animals you normally wouldn’t see. The buildings are sparse, and spread over so wide that they look almost squished down from the top so as to forcefully prevent them from extending upward. There is a thicket of shrubbery around every building, and reaching a building requires you to walk/drive upon meandering, narrow roads surrounded by greenery on either side. It’s cool, pleasant and calm. The running track attracts many (very) early morning and evening joggers, including dad and little sister. Students start jogging at daybreak, so civilians usually haunt the grounds from about 4am to 6am. Most of these early morning walkers are over 60, and observing some of them walk is like watching someone play a mellowed down version of PvsZ. (In an amusing way, no offense intended.) My dad can usually be found there, walking about in an Aeropostale hoodie and white sports shoes at 4.45am- when it actually looks like it’s 2am and his shoes look like two teeth of a giant animal eating away at the soil. However, many joggers’ morning schedules are frequently hampered by wild animals that wander into the campus at night. There have been sightings of big cats and wild dogs, but the most frequent of these visitors are large, wild elephants. Sometimes they come in huge herds, sometimes there’s just a couple of them, and occasionally only one. Many a times, the ones that come alone are in mast and are quite dangerous.
My sister has freaked out every time the guards at the supremely regal entrance inform joggers that there are elephants. Usually, when an elephant is sighted at the track, the joggers move away and lower themselves into a large ditch that surrounds the track, or climb up some stairs that form a mini-colosseum seating structure. During the winter, however, due to lack of lights, the joggers take to walking/jogging on the “road” inside the campus because of the presence of street lamps. This has lead to sightings and soundings of many a wild animal because the road is along the forest on one side, and has particularly scared my sister so much that she’s switched from jogging to yoga.
It is said(by me, starting right now, make note) that every time you go into BU, you will make contact with one animal, as I learned this through experience. In fact, if you had been there in 2007 for the Jubilee celebrations, you could have spotted a certain chief minister too. My sister’s stories of her hearing the rustling of leaves and the low rumbling sounds made by elephants are usually exaggerated, just like her height. But occasionally, dad confirms her stories and laughs it off, just like I do upon hearing them. I have spotted hares, rabbits, foxes(yes, how?) and strange, beautiful birds that never sit long enough for you to take one nice picture of them. The birds are the biggest trolls, truth be told. They sit long enough for you to register that they’re there. The minute you look closely, with no movement bigger than a dilated pupil, they disappear. On occasion, when I take the camera with me, they hop-skip-and-jump to the next tree, keeping me walking slowly like some sort of Frankenstein’s monster behind them, and just when I focus the instrument, they whoosh off. Many times though, you go to see one animal, and you end up seeing something completely different.
Today was one such day. As I was saying, I went on a short drive with dad, into the university. We went to see peacocks: you can spot them almost every day in the evenings. But we were late today. There were no peacocks, and we were returning. Of course, my prophecy had to come true. We didn’t see a peacock, instead, a bat decided it would be fun to fly into my face, just as we were about to exit the university.
This was the second time a bat has touched me. The first time was in Mysore- there was a power cut, it was complete darkness and I was changing upstairs. I was barely 13 and I screamed my head off, mostly in disgust, but also at fear that if a bat could enter through the window, so could a robber. This time however, I didn’t scream. I analyzed.
The bat’s skin was silky smooth, like velvet. I detected a whiff of citrus- either it was a fruit bat or it had just eaten a fruit(which could both mean the same, actually). But then, the bat was flying towards a cow, so it could very well have been a vampire bat venturing out for its usual kill, and my face was saved by Marudhamalai Murugan’s grace. We were moving rather slow, for my benefit. So the bat either didn’t expect us there, or it miscalculated the speed at which we were moving. Conclusion: bats make bad physicists and I make a senseless researcher.
As my brain calculated all of this in a speed that was not much faster than the vehicle I was on, I heard a kid scream behind me. She was coming home with her mother, from school, and was wearing the typical, cute, red and white checked pinafore on a grey shirt. She was crying that a vavvaal(bat) had just touched her. I remarked to my dad that it probably was the same bat that touched me.
Said dad, “Maybe this bat likes girls.”
“Maybe this bat is drunk.”, I replied.
And soon enough, another guy stopped his bike behind us and stated to his girlfriend(who evidently could not coochie-coo with at a more public place) that a bat had just touched him.
Also, like in the movie Insidious, I realize that my story has switched subjects midway and again, like the movie, I’m no longer sure where I’m going with this post. So I’m gonna stop typing now, hum Tiptoe through the tulips and drink some orange juice. I will soon update as to whether this juice craving is because of the bat.
My final conclusion is that the bat was indeed drunk.
PS: The quip that bats are blind and use echo location to navigate their way around obstacles everyday is balderdash. They aren’t blind, and use echo for navigation mostly only for hunting prey.