Monday, October 5, 2009

The Hungry Birds of Notre Dame

When we saw Peter stealthily pocketing small loaves of bread from a basket served to us while having lunch at a nearby café after touring the Eiffel Tower, we were amused.

"For supper?" we asked cheekily.
"No. For my cousins." he replied deadpan.

Although baffled, we did not for a moment believe that he could be hungry. If Paris could be made up of a certain food type, I am sure it would be baguettes and croissants. I have never seen a country consume as much bread as the Parisians or maybe I've been to too few places. We were served baguettes and croissants for breakfast at the Vintage Hostel which we resided, then it was baguettes for lunch and baguettes for dinner everywhere else we dined. The rest of them thought I was joking when I said that it is customary to use baguettes to wipe the plates clean of pasta sauce. And of course you eat them flavoured baguettes.

We proceeded to Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris after lunch and right in front of the cathédrale were bushels of hungry birds.

Can you see them?
Can you see them birds?

We saw a wondrous sight. An Algerian girl was standing on a bench beside the bushel and she held out bread crumbs with her hands. As we peered at her, she looked like a vision with birds swarming around her outstretched hands, pecking excitedly. I could have sworn that she had a fluttering halo of birds under the very bright, indiscernible sun. It is too bad I did not think of taking a picture of her then because our friend, Peter, unloaded his haversack of purloined baguettes, broke them into small pieces and did the same.

Oh my god. Then he looked like a vision.

"These are my cousins that I was talking about." he explained.

It was one hungry bird
It was one hungry bird at first ...

Then two!
Then there were two ...

There were times when there were five to six birds hovering around his hands. Tourists were now crowding around us, snapping shots furiously. Even I got over my initial fear of being pecked and gave it a go. I managed to feed a few hungry birds but was not as popular a choice for the birds as Peter or Chris for that matter. I reasoned that my fancy fingernails of gold and black zebra prints spelt danger to the birds. Come on, I was holding bigger pieces of bread ...

We must have played saints to the birds for at least half an hour and also offered the purloined baguettes to other tourists who asked us for some.

Chris C. feeding the birds in front of the Notre Dame

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