Thursday, 2 January 2014

Snakes on a Plain - Part 1

To set the record straight about my hometown, Mangalore is NOT a village. 
Not even a town , it’s a large CITY with buildings and our very own Municipal  City Corporation.Which does not explain why my house and garden, located in the heart of the city,  has been the favourite haunt to many  species of wildlife including different varieties of snakes, mongoose, monkeys, bats, vultures,  Asian palm civet a.k.a  Marapatti in Malayalam( )  ..shudder shudder.

Our neighbours had well tended gardens too but I always failed to understand why the said species always seemed to take a detour from the main tarred road and visit us , without fail every other day . These sightings caused huge panic and excitement, depending on which sibling saw the wildlife  first. If it was my younger sister, she would excitedly yelp and set about following it to observe it in its natural habitat. If it was my brother who spotted these, he would put on a brave front . ( I know he was scared shitless of snakes and after a few years he stopped all  pretence at being brave)

Whereas if it was me  who spotted the snakes , all the neighbours could hear,  was a piercing shriek followed by birds flying away from the tress and a resounding thud , as my unconscious body hit the concrete floor.

My mom has a standing account with Saint George, our patron saint . He was our go – to saint to protect us from all things snake related. And it works, none of us so far have been bitten or injured by a snake till date. 

Not even when I opened the garage door one night and found a gigantic python coiled and hanging down from the roof. I just stared at it and started bawling so loudly  you would think I was swallowed whole by the python .

Then there was a  10 foot snake found hiding on  the coconuts in our kitchen. All I remember of that day was flying from one sofa to the next , without touching the floor and then running out the of the door crying to my neighbours house , declaring I would never set foot in my house again .

My stories could go on and on about Mangalore.  Then my wedding got fixed and my fiancĂ©e was from a big big city like Mumbai  . I had never been to Mumbai before and I always had this vision of Mumbai with tall skyscrapers set amidst a concrete jungle. Surprise Surprise, my husbands company quarters was in a beautiful lush green land spread over  300 acres in the heart of Mumbai . It is the only large green area remaining in Mumbai now.

My heart sang with joy at the sight of the trees and birds. As a newly married bride, I stepped out onto the balcony in the 4th floor, sipping my tea and feasting  my eyes  on the greenery . Other ladies were out on their balconies too and they smiled and waved as they did their laundry and brushed their kid’s hair.

Then I looked down and saw not one but two gigantic snakes slithering away . I screamed and the  tea cup fell from my hand and smashed on the concrete below.
The ladies , not seeing the snake below , nudged each other and whispered “See I told you ,these new generation  modern brides – they are not like us . It’s just the first day of the marriage and she is already fighting with her in-laws and throwing their crockery.Tsk tsk”

Hearing my scream, my father – in law came running out to the balcony .”What happened beta?” When I pointed to the snakes below , he said consolingly , “Don’t worry , they are just baby snakes”. “ Baby Snakes !! Are you kidding me I thought , If these 6 foot ones are babies , then how big is the mama snake ?

Don’t worry '' said Papa again , “You are  safe because we are on the 4th floor. We need to be on our guard in two months as we are shifting to the ground floor apartment shortly''

Faint , thud as my body hits the floor

( Part 2 out soon)