Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Just Let Them Be

Where would i be in this hot and humid summer morn when i am always worried about hydrating my greens more than myself. Here...
Sitting on that chair surveying the grass precisely the areas around the small raised mound i made below the Harsingaar/ Paarijaat tree planting it with a couple of Yuccas, Alpinia variegata and lots of Tradescantia to give it some drama and color.

Harsingaar/ Paarijaat my favorite ( Nyctanthes arbor-tristis ) and i remember having blogged about it once. 

The grass required trimming which meant some good patient working there and i didn't seem to mind the humidity that clung to my skin and made me feel quite muggy with all that sweat ready to drip down my face like raindrops early in the morning as the sun was showing up. The greenery made me feel cool from within.

i was ready with my scissors and all to trim the grass which was sort of looking unkempt and overgrown. Besides it was shadowing/covering all my beautiful rocks, when something moved on one Yucca leaf . That slight quiver and thank God i caught it or else this blog wouldn't have happened.

i had no frigging idea if it was a snail sans it's shell or a slug but whatever i could understand the reason for the Yucca having those ugly spots here and there now. But the creature does not scare me nor does it look yuck to me. The ponderous way it moves and the way the body stretches reminds me rather of an accordion. So forgetting the job in hand i just stood there watching it's movement for quite some time.
 i would see it shrink in size like a mass of shapeless fat rubber and then stretch like a wriggled pipe long and thin as it walked along the edges of the Yucca leaf. The feelers moving just slightly. i did not want to scare the peaceful quiet creature but was curious to see how it's face, if it has a face looks like. Must confess though that i sure was getting also distracted by the shapelessness of its structure too as it lazily, seemingly rested and for a moment i thought it had read my intentions for i saw the raised head.
Then for several minutes it just lay there. Sometimes the feelers were in sometimes they were out. One particular instance it looked quite funny. Shapeless just hanging there with only one feeler visible from where i was viewing it.
i kept looking as it's feelers felt the humid air and did it's magical vanishing and appearing acts. The more the merrier numbers. At first i thought it has just two feelers but i was wrong. There was a pair more. Don't know whether they were it's feelers or what but they were smaller and they were there. A couple of them more but smaller than the front long with a drawing pin head tipped type and evidently clear ones were there resembling in structure just the same but in contrast to the long ones that were black the smaller ones were pale white almost translucent white .

There were other creatures now joining the morning sunrise trying to grab my attention as my object of attention just lay there with one feeler and they were in motion much for my attention to diverted briefly from this to elsewhere.
There was a bee which flew by and a Barbet had already started with it's kruk kuk kruk kuk. My gaze chose to follow the bee because the Brown Headed Barbet could not be spotted and was with the bee for sometime as it took it's nectar flitting from one flower to another and when the gaze returned back to the pavilion to where my object of attention lay i realized that all that while i had looked the other way it had sluggishly but definitely almost reached the summit of the Yucca leaf.
i wish i could reproduce what it did there for i can just compare it to acts done by trapeze swinger artist. Balancing there twisting it's body this way and that. Sometimes it felt like only half of it's body was attached to the leaf as it just hung other half part of the body floating in air as it did it's routine act with it's head with it's projecting and clearly visible feelers. All of them...the long and those tiny ones.

i read this article by Mr Ranjit Lal. i am his fan and follower. Don't miss a single article of his ever since we have switched over to The Indian Express replacing The Times Of India which we were subscribing to earlier. Actually i eagerly wait for that magazine section called EYE of The Indian Express on Sundays just for this article by Mr Ranjit Lal.
Am a fan of his writing laced with humor and fun and his intense knowledge on all things not so bright and beautiful as well as those that are. But what i admire most is his honesty. Unlike other naturalists he does not deceive his readers by just sermonizing about all creatures and is quite frank about his likes and dislikes. This one on snails from his column ' down in jungleland' that's how it's given in the newspaper in lowercase published under the heading," The Real Slim(y) Shady'', he calls them immigrants of the illegal kind and has no qualms in letting his readers/fans know why he nurtures his dislike for them. i just smiled out aloud when i read as he sums up his article, '' Considering that in one earlier piece I had defended the rights of "illegal'' immigrant species on the grounds of survival of the fittest and because in the ultimate analysis we're all immigrants, blah blah? Well, I was going through a list of the plants these guys have an appetite for and that includes, bhindi ,( Okra), Bananas, brinjal and papaya-all of which I have growing in the garden. And no darned, snot covered snail is going to get between me and my veggies! "

That explains the chewed up bits of the foliage in my garden too. But as for me i have another take on this.

 Every morning as i take a walk around the vegetable part of my garden i see it brimming with so much of life that i can only thank the Almighty for having given us this earth which produces for survival of all of us. When and if it is tilled and attended to the produce is in plenty. Personally i feel there is enough for me and the creature which glistens with mucous and leaves a silvery trail of slime. Not unless there is a deluge which gobbles up all my green babies. Do i have reasons to worry then if nature takes care of problems that we just conjure up in our imagination. For all i know as soon as monsoon is over they won't be seen anymore. Even Mr Lal informs me now that they can seal themselves up retaining their moisture in their bodies for three years which is called aestivation. 

Now my creature i don't know if it's the same species as the one species of land snail Mr Ranjit Lal has talked about but it regaled me nevertheless to know of their sex life...and that in that what was most interesting to know was about the orgy of these hermaphrodites. Did not know that.
 What more was enlightening was when i learned through this article that the peaceful quiet creature of mine can infect one with a ''nasty'' form of meningitis if they are handled or eaten under cooked. Maybe the Chinese eat them although in his article i read that, " they are considered a good source of protein in their home continent and for army troops."  His dog however sneezes in disgust when he sniffs at them says he...​http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/the-real-slimy-shady-digging-up-the-dirt-on-snails/#.U8UYlYUOEUk.gmail

At first i thought of sending my picture to Mr Ranjit Lal to ask him if the creature i saw was it a slug or a snail but then i thought it better to blog about my trapeze swinger blob of a shapeless mass which reminded me of an accordion as it stretched, first. i sure have my doubts although somewhere in the ground i saw a shell too but it could belong to some other creature and not this. On second thoughts maybe sometimes snails do take a walk without their shells...do they...or don't they. i guess i shall learn all about it soon. 
Till then...i can only say this. Snails or slugs...slimy yes both but let's be kind to them. Just let them live...let's just stop all the cruel things we do with them. Just let them be...



Who could have dreamed them up? At least snails
have shells, but all these have is—nothing.
Small black antennae like fat pins wave
as if they could take in enough to get them through.
Turn them over, they’re the soles of new shoes,
pale and unmarked as babies. They flow,
the soil itself learning how to move and, moving,
almost staying still, their silver monorail
the only evidence of where they’d been.
And they die quiet, or at least (thankfully)
out of the human ear’s range, between two stones,
under heels, shriveling in salt or piss, at the tips
of sharp sticks. Fight back, I hear myself say,
do something. Don’t just take it. But they die
as they had lived, exuding slime, like
the smaller boys, who’d just
stand there, miserable in short pants,
school socks down to their ankles,
school tie unknotted and askew, and flowing
from noses slow cauls of snot that
from time to time they’d lick or sniff back up
part way, until it flowed again, coating
the upper lip, falling into the mouth, mixing
with tears before anything had been done,
the fear itself enough, so even if we wanted
we couldn’t let them off. Sometimes it was
the knee “where you daren’t show your mother,”
other times the kick in the shins, the stick over
the head, the punch in the mouth, while they
just stood there, or double up, gasping
for breath, and we did it again.
Slug or Snail who are you...ponderously you move...ahhh can't focus properly...


  1. Nice post! I hate people who kill such innocent beings for fun. i have never read Indian Express, will try a copy now! Nice poem and very good pics :)

    1. Thank you Ankita. Yeah i have seen kids treat it cruelly and often it is killed just because it looks slimy. i feel awful about that. Yeah The Indian Express and 'down in jungleland' you sure will love it.
      Thanks also for appreciating the poem and the pics.

  2. right .. well I know its wrong to kill and all but slugs have spoilt the whole of my garden, and its a constant pain to go out in the morning and see the snail path and the plants destroyed.. and you cant keep them away ..

    that is a slug i am sure a snail has that hard shell on the back .. :)


    1. Dear Bikram i know how upsetting it is when ur garden is all chewed up. Voracious they sure are but i was wondering in nature aren't there supposed to be something that keeps their numbers in check. Maybe we sure have disturbed that chain so we suffer the consequences. The sight of a snake and the poor creature is bludgeoned to death...what do we have then perhaps a deluge of rodents like rats bringing in plague and spoiling harvests isn't it. i was driving at that Bikram.
      Thanks for not only being so prompt but also for clearing my doubts. Slug it is then.
      Oh dear now i am anxious about my veggies and greens too but on second thoughts...let them eat...i shall plant again. Howzaat !! :)

  3. Nice post and some gorgeous shots...and I agree with your point, that they are growing in numbers perhaps because we screwed up their chain...

    1. Hey! i bet ur friends call u Sid...feel so great to see ur smiling face in ur dp and have ur comment here which conveys that u understand exactly what i'm trying to say. Am not very gud in communicating strongly as you can see i write as i speak. Yeah we have messed up with the chain not them...for that matter all of the species...then we complain even about something as harmless as a caterpillar. But it's not surprising Homo sapiens i suppose we have been selfish from times immemorial ever since we were hunters. Now we produce build expand all at the cost of the poor creatures who have nowhere to go and then we what is unbelievable is we are the ones to raise a hue and cry while they silently go extinct...
      Thank you so much...seems like you are one too...wait i'll come and see what you talk when u talk...so nice to have met you here...NOW...cheers to that. :) :) :)

  4. Like its said "the slug too has a right to live"
    Nice macro pics of the slug.

    1. Thank you Haddock for your appreciation and your words. You just made my day. :)

  5. Amazing pictures...

    1. @ Anonymous that you found them amazing i am glad. Thank you so much. :)

  6. Even I loved to read the IE Sunday pages, but that was when I was at my father's place. Here, I subscribe to two papers & have no time to read as they get piled...:)
    You see, Shivani, I am staring at the computer screen most of the time :)
    Lovely to be treated to green pics :)

    Shivani, Admirable how you have clicked the creepy-crawly hero, or is it the heroine?!
    Let us say 'Model' :)
    Got to see so many Model-pics from so close :)

    Keep clicking & sharing!