Where parakeets have a fine dining experience

A. M. V. Sudarson Sah and his family do not let these winged visitors leave their terrace hungry

Twenty-five wooden planks make a permanent fixture on A.M.V. Sudarson Sah’s terrace. He has nailed the planks to two parapet walls, arranging them in a neat row. There is a small passage between every two planks enabling people to walk around the terrace. During the rainy season, Sudarson Sah keeps the planks protected with a tarpaulin cover. Now and then, he adds a few extra planks — whenever he expects more visitors to his terrace.

A long-time resident of Ayya Mudali Street in Chintadripet, Sudarson, has been serving parakeets soaked rice, every morning and evening. It is a ritual he is said to have been following for a decade.

“Their squawks of parakeets wake us in the morning. They are punctual. But, we never keep them waiting for their food,” says 48-year-old Sudarson Sah, a small-time businessman.

An hour before the sunrise around 5 a.m, Sudarson Sah, his wife A.S. Vithya Bhai and their college-going daughter start the preparations for feeding the birds.

They rinse 20 kilograms of rice before it is soaked in a 20 litre-plastic bucket for an hour. The family divides their work with Sudarson Sah and his wife taking care of the task of washing the wooden planks and parapet walls, sweeping the terrace, soaking the rice before they are fit to be kept on the planks and walls for the birds.

Their daughter fills more than half a dozen water bowls primarily meant for pigeons and crows on the terrace.

Parakeets flock to the nearby trees before landing on the wooden planks. The family withdraws and keeps a distance to ensure the parakeets are not disturbed during their daily meal. The parakeets feed between 6 a.m and 6. 45 a.m every day. The routine is repeated in the evening. “Before having my lunch, I soak the same quantity of rice to feed the birds in the evening. Our family has never missed the routine,” says Sudarson Sah.

During the lockdown, Sudarson Sah and his family managed to source adequate quantities of rice for these birds. On an average, 35 to 40 kilograms of rice are used to feed these birds every day. In fact, a small room in his house has been converted into a storeroom to keep a stock of rice in gunny bags. Besides buying it on their own, the family was also helped by their neighbours in sourcing raw rice for the birds.

A Marathi by origin, Sudarson Sah’s grandparents moved to the neighbourhood in the early 20th century for textile business after purchasing the existing Chettinad-style house.

Charity has been the tradition for the family as they served free food for the poor regularly and gave donations to the temple festivals in the neighbourhood and elsewhere in the city every year.

However, Sudarson Sah developed the habit of feeding the parakeets only a decade ago when he saw a small group of birds flocking to his terrace regularly taking advantage of a peepal tree nearby. Then it was just a pastime for him. Later, it became a full-time activity for him and his family.

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