1 February 2007

The Hubulkok Effect

The hubulkok is a colourful bird. It travels a long distance, on an instinctive route, to mate and nest. En route this long flight, only some 700 kilometers before touch down, it passes over the hot and sunny beaches near the Great Pillar cliffs. Here, if the sea lashing the cliffs brews up something special a few hubulkoks may stop for a travel break. An oceanic rubbish sludge current sometimes crosses the local gulf eddies to cough up a humid stench. A very thick storm of flies hovers over the seas. The swarms of flies and the stench also attract fishes of all kinds and in turn these fishes attract the sharks. The situation normally stays only for a couple of hours or a day if it happens at all. If coincidently the hubulkoks fly over this place at this time, then the some of the hungry hubulkoks dives down into the fly clouds to swallow in mouthfuls. Then these snacking hubulkoks with their bellies full are unable to continue with their overhead friends on the remainder of the journey. They decide to nest on the nearby land itself. They fly an hour inwards into the greener parts of this land and settles near a farming village. A reason to select this place is also the access to seeds, grains et al in plenty in the barns. Just before the mating there is a cooing-the-female ritual with a display of its pinkish wings and a cry that goes 'hulhulhul'. Now, the villagers who heard this cry are tense! The elders of the village have taught them that to hear the 'hulhulhul' sound is inauspicious. And it is not wholly false; they were hit the following day with the news that one of their beloved was killed in a shark attack the day before!

Local Superstition: Hubulkoks augurs death.

How can the harmless hubulkok signal deaths?
The islanders here are mostly agricultural and close knit, mostly related one way or another. They have their own religion, traditions and superstitions. One such superstition their grandparents passed on to them is the relation between death and hubulkoks based on actual sea death incidences observed through the centuries. Many islanders have also lost their fishermen folks to the notorious whirlpools. This too happened after sighting the hubulkoks nesting near their villages. They accused hubulkoks to be death itself.
The reality is that: it is the time of year when the islanders' produce are brought to the old market ten miles off the beautiful sandy white beach near the Great Pillar cliffs. Having made their sell many of them decide to take a day off and go swimming or boating. Normally it is quite safe but not if it is the sea mood is as explained above.

Rationality: Hubulkoks sightings on that island may signal dangerous seas nearby.

Musings: Thankfully, for this particular case we can observe and understand the whole scene on a macro level. It can be explained with appropriate scientific principles we know. But imagine a situation where it involves sciences beyond our understanding or maybe even those we haven't yet formalized. Then superstitions and omen readings could just be reliable.

Morals of the story: Don’t ignore everything you can’t explain today, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


  1. Excellent. I couldn't get more details of the bird though. Does such a bird exist?

    It is also important to note that incorrect omen reading could lead to dangerous results.

    Well we need to distinguish Men from O-Mens :)

  2. Thanks. No the bird doesn't exist...just imaginary ;-)

    Yes, people tend to believe in specific omen interpretations. Actually the same omen can mean differently at different timings, geographical locations etc. As this as per one symbolic analyst I know.

    Having written all this, I have to say that I am a skeptic at heart actually. :-o