Of superstitions and crowshit and other BS!

brinjal curry brinjal curry

If a bird shits on your head or shoulder you should get unexpectedly rewarded. Normal droppings (non-bird, that is) have the same effect! Vive la Italia!

If a bird shits on you, or if you accidentally step in shit (any old shit will do) – you’ll be (filthy) rich! Long live Lithuania! 

Just be thankful cows and elephants don’t fly. That’s the luck about having a bird do its business on you! – Yahoo answers zindabad!

It is very lucky and unlucky at the same time, unlucky, because it could be a flock of birds and they could cover you – unknown wag – may he never have a crow shit on him!

“It’s considered good luck because the odds of it happening to you are like one in a billion, which is rarer than winning the lottery.  So statistically if you’re able to get bird poop on you, then you should be able to win the lottery.” – Sheldon Cooper’s identical twin, I’m sure!

It’s quite amazing how superstitions around the world tend to be the same – whether it’s black cats or crowshit or shaking your legs while seated, whistling indoors and many, many more! There are culture-specific ones, of course, but the commonalities are really mind-boggling…

As kids, one accepts these blindly – yawning in the evening means a pishachi (ghoul) would fly down your throat and cause you tummyache. If you sneeze when you’re leaving the house, you have to sit down and rest awhile before you can start out again – imagine if you’ve got a cold coming on and you’ve to catch a train and… phew! My parents were not particularly superstitious and so we didn’t get to hear about many of these, much less experience them except through friends and their families – it was strange, it was new… ergo, it was exotic! I was fascinated with superstitions!

So there was this one superstition at school called kaaki engili (literally crow’s saliva/jhoota). In general, Indians are very fastidious about sharing food – particularly taking a bite out of someone else’s apple or a taste off someone else’s plate – because it is then contaminated with that person’s saliva. There is some sense behind this as most colds and coughs and infections spread this way. But then, like most things in India, there is always a way round the rule! If you had to share a toffee or a guava with your best friend, you would carefully cover the area you were going to bite into with a piece of cloth or a bit of paper and bite through it! You were still contaminating it, of course, but conscience was satisfied!

Having been brought up with principles of hygiene firmly embedded into our heads – much more than any superstition, I’ve never been able to share engili/ contaminated food! Most mothers of young children I knew would happily polish off the leftovers from their childrens’ plates rather than waste food – I could never bring myself to do it – much to their disparagement! My argument was – same germs – child or adult and if I catch a cold from my kid, then who’s going to look after the sick child?! Leftover food from the kids plates went straight into the dustbin with a lecture on waste and “not having eyes bigger than your stomach!”

But my anti-superstition stance has been vindicated – new studies (yesterday’s Times of India) show that crow droppings contain loads of disease-carrying bacteria, viruses and various other creepy crawly things which can give you the heebie-jeebies in various parts of your body! Urrrrr! And that is the reason why (not because I’ve had crows drop their loads on me at half a dozen times – choosing their timing well – every single time I had no access to water, the very first time being when I was just three years old!!) I hate the fellas so much!

One grows out of childhood hates – like every kid’s pet peeve – brinjals/eggplants which most of us grow to love later in life, but I’ve never grown out of this crow aversion…

But here’s one of my favourite outgrown-from-childhood favourites


  • Small, tender brinjals – 1/2 kg. Wash, remove stalks, cut into 1″ slices and dunk in water till needed


  • Peanuts – 2 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Desiccated coconut/copra – 1.5 tbsp
  • Red chilies – 4-5
  • Coriander seeds/dhaniya – 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds/jeera – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Saunf (fennel) – 1/4 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida – 1 pinch
  • Salt
  • Oil – 1 tbsp


Mustard seeds, urad dal and jeera

Roast the peanuts, sesame, copra, red chilies, jeera, dhaniya, saunf and powder to a grainy powder

Heat the oil in a pan, add the tempering ingredients.

When they splutter, add the asafoetida and turmeric and immediately add the drained brinjal pieces. Add salt.

Cover and cook till half done – about 5 minutes. Add the powdered masala and cover and cook again for a few more minutes till the vegetable is tender. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or rotis.

And don’t go near those evil crows!