I’ve always been quite curious about pigeon-raising in Beijing – not as a personal interest, but from an observational perspective. In a city packed full of apartment buildings, it seems entirely an entirely impractical hobby. However, if you take the time to look up whilst travelling around this city, you will now and then see how someone has ingeniously fashioned a giant bird cage, hanging, often precariously, off the outside of their apartment window. I’m sure that this eliminates most of the light that could possible come in one end of your apartment, plus I’m sure there’s also a pigeon-y smell – it’s quite a commitment really. Not to mention the possibility of being incredibly annoying to your neighbours.
So, whilst walking from work to the bus stop the other night (a gorgeous dusk walk through a pretty park, which I love!), I was so surprised to find a usually-empty carpark packed full of cars, middle-aged men and boxes of pigeons! I don’t have an amazing visual story to share, but this is the best my crappy phone camera can do.
This was something that I’d never seen before in Beijing. The truck in the background was piled high with wooden cages/boxes of birds. There seemed to be about 4 per box. A massive crowd of men (it’s obviously a male hobby here) were huddled around madly discussing the birds on display. Once a box had been purchased, it was whisked away and the birds were immunised by their new owner. Then the boxes were packed away in the car and the proud owner drove off. It was a quick process and a high turnover! And, of course, some entrepreneurial ladies had set up tables selling bird seed, medicine and wicker nests. I do wonder how it all came about. Is it illegal? Is that why they were in and out so quickly? How are you notified about the next pigeon sale? Were there a whole lot of angry wives in Beijing last wednesday night?
Just for a giggle, pig-e-ons in Fawlty Towers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvBOLCFRAFc