Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Omar Shariff or Rom Whitaker?

Even looking at this photo shot hastily by my niece i experience an eerie shiver down my spine as i shudder in fright.From the safe distance from which this picture was taken i have to mention that this time i am going to just narrate all that ensued one morning at my sister's place when this COBRA was discovered on a heap of home harvested onions.But before i proceed i am in my mind trying to tell myself," Relax! this is just a picture". Does that make me snake phobic? Of course this kind of a fear which happens without any actual contact or even by a thought is known as Ophidophobia or more generally as Herpetophobia.

The jack of all trades and master of some cook of my sister's as usual went down to get some freshly harvested onions for the days cooking when dumbstruck and frightened when he skips and hops the stairs hastily as if running to safety which in this case was the master of the house.
" Saheb ji! Saheb ji! pyaaj mein Naag phan mar kar baitha hai !", (Master! Master! there is a full hooded cobra sitting on onions) he breathlessly beseeched  his master, the Senior Forest Officer who was savouring his morning tea with his fresh newspaper in the balcony.
"Naag saanp!! kahan! baap re! (Cobra snake!! where! oh Father!) shrieked my sis who was about to join her husband for tea and stopped half way twisting and shuddering which from a distance would have given the impression of a lady getting electrocuted.
She then ran and clutched her hubby hard as if some calamity had already struck her and she wants immediate respite which none but he could provide.
This was expected out of her as she suffers from the same phobia as me.The kids who were in their respective rooms heard her scream loud and clear to come out and were eager to see the beast, the unwanted intruder sitting on their onions.
The room where the serpent was sighted over a heap of onions is away from the staircase even then the master of the house followed by the rest tiptoed towards the venue eyeing carefully every step in case the venomous beast had slithered across and could be anywhere now.But luckily it was not sighted there nor along the passage which led to the room.It was still where it was but smart at it's senses which i presume the snakes gets through the vibrations, it was now more alert and ready to meet it's opponents/enemy.Coiled into a perfect balance to strike and the hood broader now there was no denying that the cook was justified in his fearful exclamation.The mark of the Cobra was fully visible and the family excepting the Forest Officer was stupified with that strange thrill mixed with fear.Although this cannot be said for my sister who was shuddering and tense enough to chew her fingers.

Heroically the Officer examined the serpent from the doorway and in a muffled tone claimed, "This is an adolescent cobra and not a fully grown one". He should know better as he is the Wild Life Expert.
One by one he let his family member have a good view of the most feared and also the revered serpent.But all this talk and movement was getting the venomous one very restless now as it could sense danger too. Excepting my sis who was still clutching her husband's kurta sleeve, the entire family was thrilled by the intruder and before anything could be done, my elder niece took a shot of the adolescent King from her mobile phone.By the time the younger one could get her cyber shot and take a stance to shoot a better picture the forest Officer was in full form doing a Romulus Earl Whitaker with the help of a hollow bamboo thick enough to house the cobra and closed at the end from which he held the bamboo.
Balancing himself on the heap as the onions slid, he slowly and carefully made his way more near the snake which had started hissing now.My sister who was terrified at her husband's heroism screamed again which led to more hissing which made the officer back out a bit.He looked now more tense than he was earlier as he held the open end close to the snake and kept absolutely still.This is what my sis told me over the phone that he was like a statue legs apart for balance with the pole sticking close to the snake and it was a successful trick.The adolescent Cobra slid inside and the cook who was ready with a gauge of rolled old clothes plugged the open end tight.
My sis who was standing with her nephew slightly away now was shuddering and trembling still.The fact that the Cobra was inside the bamboo which her husband was holding was giving her the jitters and she was screaming asking him to throw it as fast and as far as he could.
The Hero was smiling and just to freak her out a bit more brought the bamboo close enough to make her hysterical while he kept chuckling and even laughing, very amused at my sister's fright at the caged beast.
However he relented and took the bamboozled cobra far away from the colony and released it into the wilderness.
Mission accomplished like a true wild life enthusiast.Hats off to him.
Was my sis all well after that and after what her nephew told her i seriously doubt.Which was something like this, " Chachi Cobra toh gaya par ab iske bandhu bandhav bhi toh yahin kahin honge unka kya karoge?''
( Aunty the Cobra is gone but it's relatives could still be here what would you do about that?)
She must be sleeping with her lights on i know and it is surely going to take sometime when she can be normal again, this i can vouch for.

On my conversation with my younger niece i realised how upset she was to miss out on her father's brilliant Operation Cobra and heroism which merits a national award.
''Mausi i had to search for the camera upstairs and by the time i came down the entire thing was over", she complained in her sad voice.
i tried to pacify her and tell her that hence forth she should take complete charge of the camera and keep it handy so that next time she will not miss a thing.As if the relatives of the Cobra will come looking for it and the entire operation will be repeated. Anticipating such, her innocence soon replaces the sadness with excitement
when happily she starts mimicking the hiss that she got to hear in real and  narrate the day's incident with much enthusiasm of a 11 year old.She went on to inform me with a sense of pride in her new found hobby as a shutter bug that the second shot of the swaying Cobra was taken by her.Also that her pet Pomeranian Buddy had just few days back saved the cook from another snake which lay coiled below the scooter in the garage.As i listen to her another thought crossed my mind and i spoke aloud my thoughts to my 11 year old darling," Wow what a family where Master toh master but Doggy bhi... baap re baap!"

Now i sit and think about this fear that my sis and i share.What is it about the snakes that causes this shiver and this eerie goose pimples to appear at the mere thought of it. i wonder if i would've acted any differently.
Is it it's slink and slither or even it's sinuous ease? Why is it that a mere sight begets fight or flight and even intense fright?Why does it look so eewwww so yucky?
It is not as if the snakes will come get me no matter what but then why this fear? Is there any way to get rid of this? So once again i sit and Google about Ophidophobia and i am informed of many solutions including knowledge about snakes and hypnotism but none is a full proof method.
I guess some fears still remain no matter what just like the fear of darkness.However some thoughts  expressed and more findings were impressive enough to link them here.

Before quitting i must say however that though he has his own idiosyncrasies like all of us do i am only more impressed with this man my sister is married to. If there is one person i know in my life who followed his heart in choosing his profession it is him.i can say this with certainty because the love that he exhibits for flora and fauna is not only evident in his day to day routines which he executes with sincerity and committment befitting a Forest Officer but also the values for nature and its creatures that he has instilled into his children.
Thank God Shiva that His ornament which bedecks His blue neck had accidently ventured into my sister's house and not somewhere else in the colony.Or else today instead of living it's rightful life it would be mercilessly clobbered to a very painful death.
i have been educated by this wild life enthusiast about the snakes too when he once told me about the venom types of snakes.Explaining Neurotoxic Venom he had informed me that snakes like Cobra and Krait have venom that is neurotoxic which affect the nervous system leading everything from seizures to death.But snakes like Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake has venom that is hemotoxic that affects the blood and organs causing a breakdown or inflammation of the body.These bites are more painful as breathing hurts and tissues begin to die.He also told me that most garden snakes are non poisonous and that they are just killed out of fear.
As a mark of my intense respect now for this handsome Officer who sort of resembles Omar Shariff i will try and convince myself that SNAKES like all creatures are beautiful and my fears are dumbfounded.
And to those who call me crazy for identifying snakes as beautiful i say, ''Go Hang!!''


  1. Very good read indeed. You have a flair for writing literally in real time.

    Pass on my respects to your handsome Omar Shariff who might have had the maximum high while all others were at different stages of highs and lows on that eventful day.

    Humans have a natural fear instinct of snakes and we are quite quick in detecting these creatures. A study by psychologists showed adults and 3-year-old children images of a snake surrounded by objects of similar colors such as frogs, caterpillars and flowers. Then they showed them pictures of a frog or a flower surrounded by snakes. Both groups were able to identify the hidden snake faster than the other hidden objects.

    So rapid detection is to our advantage and has evolved since pre- historic times.

    Snakes are so widespread in India that you could encounter a snake on a day-to-day basis in forested areas and farm houses and hence the phobias you mentioned.

    That’s exactly why you don’t see lion, tiger and bear phobias as often. It would also have to be something that was around and dangerous while humans were evolving.

    Shivani, things that are really dangerous right now are guns and terror activities. We haven’t had enough time to develop a predisposition to detect these menaces really quickly.

    Today I personally fear it the most whenever I am in India, as directly or indirectly I have had some personal loss due to this menace.

    I have never heard of any of my dear or near ones even hurt by a snake, leave alone being bitten to death.

  2. younger niece - YajnaseniMay 19, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    excuse me, i took one of the pics ... but..........
    you forgot to mention our ever faithful dog Buddy....who save our Ashoo from yet another snake just the day before.....
    and i am not even 11 years old !!!
    but it was very interesting to read our story on your blog
    love you ....

  3. Can't say I find snakes beautiful but do agree to what you say about these creatures being killed indiscriminately.
    Your sister must be very proud to have such a person who acted like a true eco friendly guy.
    The least we can do is try and shoo them away instead of beating the 'yucky' creature to a pulp.
    Great grit and compassion shown by your own Rom I say.
    Keep the posts coming :)

  4. excuse me...i took one of the pics...and i am not even eleven years old ...i will bi 11 this July... but leave it ..i reeeeeeeeeeeeely liked this story about us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. @Tandarin i can identify with all that u said about our evolving fears and i read about these as i googled.Thanks for putting it up for all of us to read and understand.
    And so correctly u have pointed our the real fatal creatures the real snakes in the grass,the humans who either as terrorists or even as someone gone bonkers to go on a killing spree are the ones we should fear now.
    Snakes have caused the least and that too if they were threatened.And just like you i have not known anyone as such to be bitten by a snake and die.Thank you so much for that enormous and helpful response. :)

  6. @Anonymous thank you for encouraging me and reading my posts.And thanks for giving due credits to our 'own Rom'.Shall convey this to him. :)

  7. I don't like snakes as such, but don't feel any urge to kill them as well. I grew up in a suburb and there were plenty of snakes. I haven't heard of anyone getting a snake-bite, but people still used to kill every snake they could see.

  8. @Raja thank you for going through my post.Yeah it's kind of sad how this fear of this reptile has led to it's indiscriminate killing.If only people can live and let live...

  9. @Yajnaseni terribly sorry for that error on my part.Sweetie pie i shall make the changes.Apologies on defaulting twice but very happy that u liked the story.Do read it later after i have made the changes.PEACE!! HUGS

  10. snakes are really beautiful creatures....
    one of the most visually appealing ones that i have seen is the milk snake, but i fear it a lot because it is a deadly one . So , for people whose love for a creature is hampered because of fear from it (although snakes do not attack humans unless we cause them harm or irritation ) - the coral snake is someone you may love . with the beauty of a milk snake , these shy and harmless snakes fool their predators .

    anther snake that i admire is the vine snake who looks like a vine hanging from the trees while waiting for a nice little birdie(food) to come by .

    mausi , your description of the chain of events is accurate to a 1000 decimal places and very interesting too.

    mamma's heart missed a beat when papa moved the bamboo with the snake inside it close to her ..... and at that moment i just tried to bottle my laughter in fear of getting a shout form her .... he he he

    u have done great job !!! we really enjoyed reading it !!!

  11. they take care of rodents!! and we seem to take "care of ourselves"....

  12. @Aranyanee a.k.a Anni deary you have made my day by adding some more.Now i shall google on the beautiful creatures u talk about...Milk Snake,Coral Snake and Vine snake...
    Thanks for giving me credits on the accuracy of my narration'
    Haha i can picturise my sis and all her clenching of teeth and the ensuing gaalis in between as a reflex to combat her phobia, LOL.
    Now i wait cause i feel u can do a still brilliant job with your intense passion for nature and the creatures.For starters why don't you blog on the lizards that you have observed so well?
    Will wait for yours which i hope is soon enough not to try my patience :).

  13. @Aakaash thank you Sonna but let me remind you that you took care or a rodent too which ventured into ur room one day remember! only thing you were too freaked out at holding the creature by the tail and threw it too hard away that probably the impact of it against the wall knocked it out.And none of you guys knew whether it was poisonous or non poisonous.It's normal and u should not feel too bad about that.
    Thank God you are now taking care of the rodents and yourself.All the best on all your endeavours and may you succeed with the success you desrve.God Bless beta :)

  14. Saanp-seedhi baat hai. I don't mind snakes that much now either. On the one hand, we worship them; on the other we kill them indiscriminately.

  15. @Anirban thank you for reading yeah saanp seedhi...and sure we get so spooked by the mere sight that instaneously KILLL seems to be the only answer.:)