Friday, October 8, 2010

Who's the greediest of us all?

I wonder why, of all animals, the pig is considered so greedy.

Of course, pigs are greedy alright. I’ve often observed the piglets around the cottages behind Palolem beach; dirty little things, their once pinkish skin covered in dried mud and worse filth. They have their snouts perpetually in a trough of food. Or they’ll be running around with their noses to the ground, constantly gobbling bits and pieces of unmentionable things.

But pigs are not the only creatures who go on eating, and who will eat just about anything: edible or not. Cows are as bad. And hens? All they do is peck all day long at the dirt, squawking all the while as if outraged by their own appetites.

And anyone who has had her garden demolished in minutes by a goat knows that the prize for greed should probably go to this insatiable creature. There are not too many goats in Goa. As the guy who sells chicken explained to me: ‘It’s very greedy, the goat. It will eat up all the plants.’ Close to where I live is a Muslim guy who butchers goats twice a week in his front yard. His goats are always tied up. And the poor things are taken to graze like dogs on a leash.

But observe, if you can, god’s little creatures. I watch them in the garden and am amazed at how they spend the entire day - from dawn to dusk - eating, generally each other. Big birds eat baby birds. Lizards will stalk a moth and pounce. Spiders will weave the most incredible web from tree to tree and sit in the centre, waiting for dinner to be served. A line of ants will be dragging some dead insect away, or even a bit of lizard shit. On a bad day there'll be a snake chasing a frog, or monkeys grabbing and stuffing their mouths with whatever they can steal.

My teak tree recently came into leaf (the branches were cut off during the rainy season). I was admiring the freshness of the green colour, but by afternoon the entire tree had been ravaged by little black and white caterpillars. All that was left were the skeleton leaves. And while the caterpillars were busy chomping away, little birds kept landing on the leaves and rubbing their beaks into them. They were eating the insects and the caterpillars who were eating the leaves.

The most astonishing of hungry creatures that I’ve seen at least, is the big red ant. During the monsoons, particularly, they are everywhere, busily bending leaves to create nests for themselves. First they drop some sticky whitish solution on the edges of all the leaves. Then they bend these leaves back and forth in the strangest way to create a nest the size of a football. I’ve seen this happen many a time. But the other day I observed them more closely in the mango tree. A line of ants had carried a dead wasp into the tree and were holding it on a leaf while the other ants were bending the leaves around the wasp. What’s the point of a home, I guess, if there’s no food to eat.

And if these creatures are not eating, they’re crapping or reproducing endlessly. To what purpose? God alone knows.


mumbai paused said...

The greediest them of all is us. Humans. And our greed has changed the face of the planet and life in the deep seas than any other living thing.

Varuna Mohite said...

That is so true. But i don't think our greed causes as much damage to the planet as it does to our own lives. I think endless wants - particularly for Things - only create endless unfulfilled desires and unhappiness. We need to worry about ourselves. And i do believe we are much too small and insignificant to seriously damage the planet, which has been around for billions of years - as this hilarious yet deeply serious short video makes clear. Here's the link:

mumbai paused said...