It’s been awhile since you have last seen a place this grey and this radiant. The whitish grey fog hangs low in the sky as if it is a giant laundry that hangs on the tarnished-red roofs of the short houses that align the hills around. Between the houses and you stretches a lake whose greyness blends so well into the greyness of everything else that you would not have noticed the water were it not for the abandoned sail boats at the dock. The boats tremble every time a small wave comes by and lifts them up slightly above the usual water level, and you imagine the boats to be on their tip toes and waving a big hi as they rock on their sides. At where you come from, people used to ask you how you were doing instead of saying hi but no one ever waited for the answer to the question. It’s not an actual question, a friend of yours told you, it’s just a casual way of addressing someone. So they aren’t really interested in how I’m doing, you asked back. Your friend looked at you and blinked thoughtlessly. Maybe, she said. Maybe not, she said.
It’s been awhile since anyone has asked you how you are doing, and as you stand there in the brilliant greyness of fog, lake, and dock, you feel an impulse to ask the flying sea gulls how they are doing. The sea gulls look white, whiter than the distant stars in the night sky, and unlike the stars, the birds fly around– the white specks in the greyness fly to and fro, scattered here and there, and they make the grey even more brilliant. It’s interesting to see that the whiteness renders the greyness even more like grey than it would otherwise be without the whiteness. How are you doing, seagulls? You wonder if anyone has ever asked that question to the sea gulls. Has any sea gull been asked any question at all? What happens to the stories of these birds if no one ever asks about them? You and your friend try to talk to the birds that are so nearby that it would be possible for you to jump on one of them give it a hug. You wonder aloud about the chance of encountering any relative of Ramalinga, a pigeon that your Singaporean friend told you of, that had accompanied her when she used to attend high school there. Your Singaporean friend saw it every morning on her way to her school and she attests that she never saw it fly. Curiously enough it would walk, run, and even lie down on the street as if about to take a nap, but it never flew, she said. Whenever it was chased by one thing or another, it would run like the fastest pigeon in the world. Your Singaporean friend had thus named that pigeon Ramalinga, after an Indian runner who was supposedly the fastest runner in the world (not fact-checked). So now you are here, in a bird-crowded place of Switzerland, looking for Ramalinga that you have never seen before and perhaps would never see but nonetheless would look for and be reminded of whenever you see a pigeon or any sort of a bird. You and your friend call out its name in the unfamiliar street, and desperately too, because there must be a sliver of hope in a grey that is so brilliant. There is no doubt that such brilliant grey is wonderful, you think to yourself, as you and your friend shout out “Ramalinga!”