Wednesday, 5 December 2018

The Breadfruit


The breadfruit (Neer phanas or Div Kadgi) seemed to take forever to peel and cut. I had planned on making a delicious stir-fry and I was already running late. As usual when I am in a hurry, I start heating the pan and dunking in the pieces as they get chopped up.  I just put in the last batch of pieces, when the gas fluttered and gasped and went out!  The gas cylinder was nearing its Finish Time and it chose just this minute to wind up!

Well, no worries, we have a spare cylinder. I started moving out the stuff from the front of the cylinder to be able to pull it out. A spare bottle of liquid soap, a bottle of coconut water collected for the Panchagavya that I was planning on making later this week and a plastic bag filled with waste plastic bags. Oh I hate this non-biodegradable thrash – everything from wheat-flour to sugar and all essentials come wrapped/sealed in plastic and there is no way I can avoid this. I collect it in a plastic bag for disposal later. As I pulled out the bag, I noticed what looked like a  brown roll of paper just behind the cylinder.  Thinking it was the roll of postal paper in which I had received some mail, I bent down to pick it up –but  wait – did it just flinch a wee bit?  I put on my spectacles  – and yes indeed – it  had flinched at my outstretched hand .... and was now staring back at me with beady eyes.

What.......... was ...................it......... ???? 

 I needed more light and got my torch and shone it into  the shadowy part under the kitchen platform – I could now see the small head and a muscular swathe  of  brown circling behind the cylinder. I called out to Vivek and we both debated on the next course of action. It looked sluggish.  The first step was to see it properly. We pulled out the gas cylinder carefully to see this humongous guy all curled up in a perfect camouflage! 

What a perfect Camouflage!


Could it really be a python?  I quickly clicked a pic and sent it to our vet Dr. Gourish Padukone who is an expert on snakes.  “Yes, it does look like a python.  If you can – then grab it by its tail and lift it high up so that it does not get the leverage to wrap itself around your arm” he advised. “And be careful – it can whip itself around your arm or leg in an instant”  he warned.

Now the position being in that little niche under the cooking platform, it would be difficult to pull it out and up swiftly and we could not assess how long it was.  We got a big sack and a large pipe.  We closed one end of the pipe by stuffing some cloth into it. The other end, we pointed towards the snake.  Most often, the snake seeking refuge into what is most comfortable for it, slides into the pipe and then the rest is easy. All we need to do is block the other end too, cart the pipe and its occupant a safe distance away and release it.  But this guy was  too woozy after what seemed like a heavy meal – we could see the tell-tale bulge  around his middle. He kept turning away from the pipe and trying to seek an escape path into the granite of the kitchen platform.  And every minute’s delay was making the half cooked breadfruit turn into a soggier mess.

 Finally Vivek put a sack over his hands and grabbed its tail.  This jolted Mr. Py  enough and he slithered right into the awaiting pipe.  The length of the pipe seemed a wee bit shorter than its occupant and we had to tap his tail a couple of times for him to retract it completely into the pipe.   Now what next ?  Our vet had offered to release it the next day into the deep forest which he was to traverse through for a visit.  It is not advisable to release such large snakes near human inhabitation. So I quickly emptied out the box in which I store my quilting materials and the sluggish giant was unceremoniously tipped into it. We closed the lid before he could right himself and rise up. The box has a latch, but when compared to the sheer muscle power of the inhabitant, it looked really flimsy and could just snap open. So we placed some weights on it, kept it in one of the spare rooms, and closed the door and windows. 

How puny the weights look!

As you can well imagine, dinner was delayed, the breadfruit didn’t turn out to be the perfectly crisp edged stir fry that it usually does, but we were too excited to mind.  It is not everyday that your dinner gets delayed and ruined by a guest of these proportions!!!

The next day, our vet called us on his way and we handed the basket over to him.  On taking a closer look, he clarified that it was a Sand Boa. 

We were expecting human guests at home for lunch, else we would not have missed the opportunity of  a ride into the deep forest to bid adieu to this very rare visitor.





2 comments:

  1. OMG !!
    Tanuja,do be careful whenever you access nooks and corners. We recently found a mouse colony in our electric fuse box in the field that was kept covered for monsoon. The mice had built an elaborate nest in there with loads of dry leaves and other softer, insulating materials to make a bed for the young ones. We initially thought it was a bird nest till six beady eyes peeled through to check on the intruder.

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  2. Welcome back. Love your stories of life on the farm. This one gives me chills and goosebumps...

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