- Education and Science
The Relevance Of Nonsense
The Buzz of Flies
Ever since I got an invitation to the Hubpages, I've been thinking of writing something - just anything, to prove to myself that I too can 'write'. And, having gone through the process of creating a hub (wherein I really could not find the right category for what I have in mind, and so selected this) I now embark upon this onerous task. I wish, though, that they had a category for simply 'random thoughts' which occur to the mind every now and then, and which could be of interest to others. For instance, what comes to mind right now as I am writing is "I hope what I am putting down is going to make sense to people who read it." Well, I suppose, good if it does, too bad if it doesn't.
Getting to the buzz of flies, it is essential to put in a little bit of an introduction. At 52 I am reasonably fit, and to maintain this reasonable level of fitness I go for 4 to 5 kilometer walks in the mornings and evenings, and back in my room, a short workout with crunches and dumbells. There's a rarely used airstrip about a kilometer from where I stay, which serves excellently for walks. Even the trudge to (and back from) the airstrip is on unmetalled tracks with cultivated farmlands on both sides. Quite beautiful, and extremely peaceful, specially so in the mornings since there are very few people who are up and about, birds are beginning to chirp and sing, and the rosy sky with an unrisen sun.
It is during these walks, or to be more precise, during my morning walks, that I experience something unique. About halfway to the airstrip, a gang of flies joins me. I don't call them a swarm or some such other collective, for the simple reason that there are only about 15 to 20 of them, not that I have carried out any kind of census. These creatures stay a little behind and above my head and buzz around like crazies. Some will skim my hair, some will take a peek into my ear and emit a slightly louder buzzZZ and generally galivant. The first couple of days they drove me nuts, and I did in fact plan to carry one of those hand held insect eloctrocuters to teach them a lesson, but then decided against it for two reasons. First, for them the lesson would have been fatal; and Second, I did not want to be responsible for deaths in the peaceful early morning, even if they were only flies. Afterall, they had a right to life, and in all probability, some purpose too.
Once I sort of got used to them being around every morning, I started to experiment with them, tried to find patterns and also figure out what exactly was going on. Where, during some earlier fly-free days my mind had been busy with working out schedules for the day ahead, or about sorting out various things at home or at the work-place, now it was totally abuzz, literally and figuratively, with flies.
In my experiments, I tried to lose them by suddenly stopping, or suddenly starting to jog. I sometimes turned my head quickly to try and stare them away, or change my direction quickly to distract them. No go. They were steadfast in their purpose and stayed precisely a little behind and above my head as a group. The bias may be a little towards my left ear, but I really can't be sure. The individual adventurers continued with their antics of skimming my hair and buzzing my ears. On some days, when the wind is strong enough to make me feel 'pushed', there is no apparent effect on them.
In the patterns, I had some very interesting observations, which I need to list out :-
(a) These chaps always meet me at almost the same place. Even if I change my route, they catch up with me at precisely halfway to the airstrip.
(b) On the way back they all suddenly divorce me at about the same place that they joined me.
(c) They are always in this gang of 15 to 20.
(d) They never come in front of my eyes.
(e) Never, ever have they accompanied me during my evening walks.
(f) No matter what I do - vary my time, change routes, jog, stop, walk, turn, run, sit or stand they remain unimpressed and complete their daily tenure with me.
In figuring out what exactly was going on, I had more questions than answers. I tried my best to find the answers but had to satisfy myself with probabilities.
Q1. Why me? I mean why buzz me, day after day after day? Flies are reputed to have a particular affinity for dirt, whereas I'm a particularly clean guy. Bathe atleast once a day in winters and atleast twice a day in summers. The hair on my head is always short, less than a centimeter to be precise. And in any case, since these fellows never come along with me during the evening walks, I suppose the 'dirt' factor, or questions of my personal hygiene, automatically stand annulled. So, then, why me? The probable answers could be:
(a) I am the only character walking around at that time in the morning.
(b) I am always alone during my morning walks, but invariably with some other people in the evenings. So are they (the flies) there to give me company?
Q2. If they are, who ordered them to do so? Being a soldier, this obviously had to come to mind. In any case, even if no one 'ordered' them, how come they always come in a gang? Who, or which one of them is the leader, saying "Guys, there comes our man. Let's buzz him." No probable answers here.
Q3. Is it the same gang which comes along every day? Not having a particularly good memory, even for human faces, I really doubt I could recognize individual flies. Also, since I do keep changing my route every now and then, it's not possible for the same gang to catch me on all the available routes. So, the gangs possibly have demarcated areas of operation. But then do they have some sort of signalling system telling the other gang "Hey, that guy, the morning walker is headed your way today", or do they simply lie in ambush and wait for me. No answers here again.
Q4. This buzzing around my head, is it business for them or is it pleasure? I'm inclined to think that it is a combination. Some unknown powers-that-be have ordained that they must buzz somebody (which in this case happens to be me), so that is their business. That some of the individual chaps skim my hair, making my scalp tickly, or buzz my ears, is the pleasure.
Q5. Can flies actually differentiate between the front of a person's head and the back, and if they can, why do they prefer to stay at the back? I mean are they scared to confront a person 'face to face'? No answer.
As far as philosophy goes, this discourse on flies and my manner of putting it across may seem trivial or even humorous, but there is a far deeper meaning to it. That these little insects started their daily journeys with me around the same time that I received the invitation to join the Hubpages is no mere coincidence. Their daily buzzing removed the junk I used to think of during the morning walk, relieving tensions, which otherwise would continue through the day. I started thinking of hows and whys of nature instead. Do they communicate with each other? Do they have leaders telling them to do things? What do they do on the days that I miss out on my walk? What do they do when I'm out of town? Do they think about me as I do about them? Their daily buzzing became so important to me, that I was forced to write about it. And, ofcourse, if my fate to gaining greater wisdom lies in the hands of these diminutive creatures, then so be it.