Last night we spotted a snake outside our front door. I rushed out with my camera phone but it was too dark to get a good pic and I stood by as it slithered slowly past and into the storm water drain.
I love snakes and having grown up in New Zealand where there are no dangerous animals consequently I don’t have any fear of them. When I see them I just want to pick them up.
The Boss however is completely different. One mention of the “S” word and she is terrified and she didn’t sleep all night convinced that it was going to climb the wall into our bedroom and sink it’s fangs into her while she slept.
She is not alone in her fear. Most people here in India are so scared that it almost borders on the irrational and will go to the extent of concreting their gardens and removing all leaves to prevent any snake habitat.
A couple of years ago I heard screams from the garden and rushed outside to find the maid cowering in fear and screaming “sarp, sarp” ( snake in the local language). Looking in the direction she was pointing I saw a 2m long snake disappearing around the corner and rushed after it. Ignoring the screams from my family I tried to get closer but hearing my approach, the snake took off at an amazing speed down the path and promptly climbed a 2.5 m high wall and disappeared into the park behind our house. The maid was convinced it was a cobra and took a while to stop trembling. However it was in fact a harmless rat snake, non- venomous and having the reputation of being the fastest snake in India, hence the speed at which it set off down the path.
On another occasion I was in Tamil Nadu and discovered a snake charmer by the side of the road. Upon seeing my interest he whipped the top off his basket and out popped two very bad tempered cobras. Fascinated, I, along with a rapidly gathering crowd, moved closer, however as the cobras expressed their displeasure by lunging towards us soon found myself all alone as all the other onlookers scattered. The thought that I might be in danger didn’t once cross my mind, instead I looked around to see where everyone had gone. In retrospect I realise that I may have been a bit stupid but I was just caught up in seeing these beautiful creatures up close. I also suspect the snake charmer had probably defanged his snakes anyway.
I once stayed in a small hotel in Mangalore, and when hearing a commotion outside, went out and found all the kitchen staff outside on the lawn shouting “snake snake”. I went into the kitchen to have a look and sure enough under a cabinet found the object of terror. A baby snake all of 40cms in length. I managed to free it into the garden after about 15 mins and with a complete lack of assistance from the quivering staff.
Maybe if I had grown up here and had the fear of snakes instilled in me from a young age things would be different. Maybe one day I will get bitten and I will be just as afraid.
But in the meantime, I don’t see what the fuss is about, and there don’t seem to be that many around. I have seen about 5 in the wild in the almost 10 years (cumulatively) I have spent in India. Perhaps I am stupid, but any opportunity I can get, I will jump at the chance get a closer look.
Just don’t tell the Boss!