long ago, i remember reading an interview with the famous cartoonist r.k.laxman in the newspaper. to the question "what do you do in your free time", he answered "i watch crows". i was quite surprised. what on earth did he find so fascinating about crows. it could certainly not be their beauty. yesterday, when walking past a building where my old institute was situated, i was reminded of a sight that i had witnessed sitting at the window of the staff room. this institute is situated in a very posh, green area of the city. it was an old building and the window of the staff room looked out onto a very big tree. there were a lot of monkeys around and i spent many an hour watching their antics (all the time making sure the windows were closed, of course). however, one afternoon, when i was sitting in a ruminative mood, looking out of the window, i noticed a pair of crows sitting on a branch of the tree. as i was watching, one of the crows (let us call her mrs. crow) went sat beside the other one (mr. crow) and stretched out its neck to be scratched. mr. crow very obligingly scratched mrs. crow on the neck. then he went back to his business of looking all around. mrs. crow edged closer to him and offered her neck once again. once again mr. crow obliged. this happened 3-4 times. the fifth time round, mr. crow seemed to get tired of the game and went and perched on another branch. mrs. crow's ego was hurt. she sat wearing a very hurt look and looked around for about 2 minutes, waiting for mr. crow to come back and make up. when mr. crow showed no such intentions, she decided to take things right into her own hands, or should i say under her own wings, flew right up to him and very determinedly stuck her neck right under his beak. i just could not believe what i had just seen my eyes just stopped short of popping out. this was the first time i had witnessed a show of this sort. mr. r.k. laxman, certainly knew what he was talking about, and so did all the narrators of the stories from the panchatantra. i have subsequently had experiences of crows, which have challenged my authority over my own garden. i have a balcony garden with a lot of potted plants. i do have a lot of trouble with squirrels, but i had never bargained for trouble with crows which decide that the leaves of my plants are more delectable than any in the park opposite or in anyone else's balcony garden. initially i tried to shoo away the crows. then (i shall admit at the risk of sounding like i have absolutely copped it :hide i tried to talk to the crows, telling them very politely to go away (i have heard that plants and beasts respond to feelings and understand the other person's feelings). all i got back was a very defiant look, like it was saying "let's see what you can do if i don't". i was really furious. but i was rather uncertain about really shooing them away (who knows, which ancestor has chosen to visit me - i really can't risk hurting their feelings or incurring their wrath). finally the crows emerged victorious and i had to eat humble pie.