Thursday, 30 April 2015

Cobra Kingdom.

Pure, pulsating energy!  What supreme might and power packed into one long body no thicker than your fore-arm.  No arms to wield mighty weapons, no legs to deliver a well aimed kick, no horns to butt, no weight to crush you underfoot!  Just a sliver of a forked tongue and a strike at the speed of lightening!  Just one strike and you could bid adieu to this world!

What is in a Cobra that invokes such awe that you could stand spell-bound and watch it forever ?  Oh the beauty of its rippling scales, its sharp eyes that watch your every move, its total supremacy over the entire world! 
And if you are lucky enough to watch it with its hood spread out .... you can consider yourself Very Lucky indeed. Because it is such a rare sight.

We see scores of snakes around the farm.  Most of them are the non-poisonous rat snakes (Pytas Mucosa / Deevad in Konkani ).  And I guess if it wasn't for them, we would have had rats around the house.
A couple of Russell’s vipers are sighted but mostly at night -  with their beautiful patterned scales – you bet the pochampalli silk design is a copy of the pattern on the Russels viper! 

See this painting depicting a girl wearing a Pochampalli sari and you will know what I mean.
A painting by German Artist Hermann Linde (c 1895)
An ocassioanl Sand boa has made an appearance – in fact once during the time when we had to sleep in the tent near the rice fields to keepboars at bay, we came home in the morning to find Posha our cat doing what we call a snake dance in front of the fridge. He puffs up like a Kathakali dancer, perches on his toes (okay, call them claws) and lowering his head, moves it – left to right, right to left peering ahead.  It is a soundless dance sometimes, and sometimes he makes a growling sound. We shone the torch below the fridge and sure enough could see some shiny, rippling thing below. It was extremely sluggish and slow, and even when we moved the fridge, it did not try to run away.  Vivek  managed to put it into a large gunny bag and released it in the forest.  We managed to keep the boars away, but came home to face a Boa!

 The dogs are unperturbed by most of them.  Johnny, with his inherent farm skills, knows exactly which snake is poisonous and stays away, but takes pleasure in chasing the Rat snakes.  The rest of our canine brigade, city-bred as they are, think they can chase and play with any snake.  Johnny has a special bark for poisonous snakes and just recently we realised that he has an extra special bark for the Cobra! 
 It sounds like a low gruff warning “GRUFFFFFFFFF”  and he does not run out, but stands still watching it.  You can follow his line of sight to speed up else you will not even notice the slithering soundless movement that barely even moves a blade of grass.  And this is how we caught sight of this royal visitor who deigned to  give us a rare sighting! 

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