sparrows, bees and cell towers

Not so long ago the nooks and crevices of our house were regularly home to sparrow nests. At that time we often consider this invasion a nuisance though we never destroyed any. I cannot remember exactly when the sparrows stop nesting. I cannot even remember when we actually stop seeing any sparrow at all. But come to think about it it has been a long time since one has laid eyes on that tiny bird, one that once was an intrinsic part of our lives. When a friend told me that new urban designs were responsible for the disappearance of the sparrow, I accepted the fact quietly and learnt to live without our little friends. It was one more instance of man versus nature and man had won again.

Last week an article in a magazine brought back my little sparrow to life. It seemed that it was not architectural designs but cell tower radiation that had spelt the death knell of not only sparrows but of bees and other creatures. The article makes frightening reading. The cell towers with seem to be proliferating on the skyline with obsessive regularity seem to be the cause not only of the disappearance of little creatures, but of illness and death in human beings. EMR (electromagnetic radiation) seems to have invaded our cities and homes and we are helpless.

In the span of a short decade the cell phone, which was once the prerogative of the rich, has become an essential commodity for all. Look at people walking on the streets, every second one has a cell phone. I was surprised to find out that everyone that works in my home has a cell phone, the maid, the cook, the gardener. Our washer man who comes once a week has one too and so does the plumber, the electrician and everyone who rings the doorbell be it the courier boy or the delivery man of the local grocery store. Look some more, children of all age are proud owners of cell phones. And to meet this exponential growth in demand, cell towers have mushroomed everywhere. For many allowing a cell tower on one's roof is simply added income. According to the survey done by the magazine even hospitals and schools have offered their rooftops to house cell towers. One can safely say that we are in the throes of a new invasion!

And yet there was a time not so long ago when we managed without them. I belong go the generation that grew up with one fixed phone in the house. Often, as was the case at home, the lone phone was placed in neutral space like a corridor. The phone had a short lead wire and I remember how one use to try and tug at it to get behind a door for those private phone calls that are the prerogative of every teenager. That was the only privacy one got. I also remember how one paced the corridor at particular moments of the day so as to be the one who picked up the phone, or how one glared at anyone else on the phone if that was the time one was expecting a call. The lyrics of an old favourite come to mind: Time it was, and what a time it was, it was , A time of innocence, a time of confidences, Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph, Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you (Bookends, Simon and Garfunkel). Come to think about it I have no photograph just fading memories.

I also remember the advent of the cordless phone and how it spelt an new kind of freedom. Never mind if there was a limit of a few meters, one was freed from having to pull and tug at a wire. When the first cell phone came it was way beyond every one's reach and we all looked at it with some kind of wonder. We could have never thought that in the span of a few years
everyone would own one.

Bees are not your irksome insect that needs to be shooed away. Their hum is a comforting reminder that all is well on planet earth, that the plants will be pollinated in time and food will reach our table. The silence of bees is frightening and the harbinger of terrible times.