The Flying Zoos of Babylon

A few years ago – about the time when I could stroke the daughter’s hair without lifting my hands, or standing up on a stool, we let her paint things on her room walls. Fresh from reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, we were the cool-parents who let her draw on the walls.

Within Our 4 Walls

Her friends trooped into her room with longing looks on their happy faces, and said their parents would never let them do that.  The daughter glowed when she heard that and she painted some more. ‘Sistine Chapel may have a dome, I have a wall’, being the general sentiment. Fat blue unicorns ran from multi-colored balloons that flew at the same height as the lampposts in saffron. Ice-cream cones sparkled under rainbows and Some other pictures that I cannot classify into shapes also dotted the walls. The effect was quite endearing once you got over the shock of it all.

Then, one of her doting aunts got her wall murals for the remaining walls. One wall was a beautiful wildlife themed one. It had wild grass, and in there were rabbits, squirrels, deer and a large tree on which birds sat. Looking down upon this forest floor teeming with flora and fauna was a monkey shaped clock faithfully ticking away. One wall boasted of a height chart with Winnie-The-Pooh themes. I cannot deny that the room looked beautiful. These DIY blogs and Instragram feeds are always showing off that kind of thing. I have seen pictures of rooms like that taken up from multiple angles, at different times of the day, used and reused in multiple posts, with an alarming number of people liking them. We forgot to take pictures. I salvaged a few from the scraps.


Then, the intervening years mulched the room somewhat.  Santa came in one Christmas morning with a large white board to be mounted on the wall containing the wildlife murals. The monkey clock faithfully counted the days as they passed. One fine day, the deer peeled off.

Interior design has never been her grandfather’s strong suit.  In a stroke of brilliance, he decided to save the remaining animal murals. The rabbit took a giant leap for rabbit kind and landed up above the white board cruising at the same altitude as the birds.  It became legend and I am sure he is much bandied about in rabbit-lore similar to that rabbit,El-ahrairah, in the charming Watership Down series written by Richard Adams.


Squirrels (live ones) peeked through windows and confirmed the tale to the animals. It was true – this rabbit (maybe he was El-ahraihrah) was flying at the same altitude as the birds even without wings. The raccoon felt sad at this and though he lost a toe during the process, made the leap too and sat atop the white board. So, the stumps of grass languished below the white board, while the rabbit, raccoon and birds flew above the white board. It truly looked like the Flying Zoos of Babylon.

Monkeys, whatever you may say, have a dignity they like to maintain when it comes to mingling with rabbits and raccoons. They like to taunt and tease and then scramble up to the top. But there was no top to go to now. The status quo had changed. Darwin had not prepared monkeys for this eventuality, and the monkey clock’s life ebbed out. Time stood still as the decor of the room deteriorated. Only magic could save the room now.


Enter Moonshine and Sundrop. A large unicorn mural, featuring 2 unicorns lovingly christened Moon-s. and Sun-d. were mounted to hide the now-hideous drawings.

For some time atleast, peace was restored. The room continued to host hordes of friends.

You know these time lapse videos that show the changes on Earth over the last million years? Something similar would do justice to the changes in the daughters room over the past few years. Poster boards came, photo frames went, wall hangings came, murals went, bunk beds came, bunk beds went,  desks and bookcases came, much larger ones took their place. All under the benign twinkling of the glow-in-the-dark stars on the roof fading with the ravages of time.

There was one thing that was evident. It was time for a change.

That is why you saw the whole family hanging off the walls at various heights on New Years Day. (Part 2)

2 thoughts on “The Flying Zoos of Babylon”

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