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Fang you very much

The sight of a snake can make most peoples' innards writhe and coil like, well, snakes. But are they really as bad and scary as they are made out to be?

Sure, a snake represents the greatest incarnation of evil. The world began not with the Big Bang (capitals included) but with a snake making a quiet gesture with an apple in the Garden of Eden. It's “snakiness” led to humans being banned to earth for eternity. And from there we have the “snake in the grass” friends. A killing machine such as a 15 century cannon was called the serpent. One of the meanest baddest sports cars is called the Viper. Its design is incorporated with the form of a snake complete with slit like headlights. It was designed to kill off competition such as the Ferraris and Porsches. The most powerful Ford Mustang is suffixed by 'Cobra'. The message is clear. Snakes are bad but in a powerful evil sort of way.

My first live introduction to snakes was an unknown black species that was being whirled by the tail above the head of a farmer in my village home. Paddy fields are often the playgrounds of little boys as well as snakes. The black beauty went sailing in a spinning arc. I was eight and the adrenalin rush was too much. I stood there fascinated and scared at the same time. Even a dead snake looked powerful.

The next encounter was with a greenish brown kind. It was a five inch long grass snake that I called Shaap. Well, I couldn't really call it 'Cat' now could I? I brought it home after being told by an expert that it was harmless. Contrary to popular belief it was not slimy. In fact, all snakes have a dry and smooth body.

Shaap lasted for a whole secretive week. All snakes are carnivorous. Grass snakes feed on live amphibious creatures. Grabbing a small frog was relatively easy and Shaap feasted on a four course dinner. Corny but true.

Shaap disappeared at the end of the week. There were no odd smells in the house. There were no screams from my grandmother whom I was visiting during my summer vacation. My pet probably made a smooth escape. Or maybe not. Was it my imagination or did the rooster look especially happy?

The grass snake was so small that it was almost cute. But other snakes kill people and give cute snakes a bad name. The King cobra is one of the most poisonous snakes. It grows fifteen to eighteen feet long and is considered by scientists to be the deadliest of all living creatures. Deadly as it is, its strike is not so fast. People can jump out of the way before it bites. Sometimes.

Most snakes bite to kill but then again most bite due to a perceived threat to themselves. In most cases a snake will just slither away. Rattlesnakes are known as the gentlemen of snakes because they usually warn before striking. Nice as it may sound, this most likely has something to do with nervousness which cause the rattle to rattle. The serpent has no control over this mechanism. Its tail comprises of dry, hard skin at the end that make the noise when shaken.

I was not alone in the fascination with snakes. School years were spent hanging around with a trio who shared similar appeal towards the non-legged creatures. The four of us even had a gang called G.T.O. which stood for Gokhra Terrorist Organisation. That association made us feel bad and mean and BAD again with capital letters. Like snakes, we tried not to blink cause they have this unnerving trait of never blinking. You would lose if you ever wanted to out-stare a snake. This is because they have no eyelids. Over their eyes is an immovable transparent membrane that is like a window and keeps out dirt and dust. They even sleep with their eyes open.

All this conspired to make snakes a creature of sinister mystery. That made them cool and in turn stamped anything remotely associated as cool. But they are not about grimness and evil and black leather cool. They maintain an important function in the balance of nature. Most varieties feed on insects that harm crops. They also feed on rodents. As we all know, rodents are only good as animated characters.

Snakes have an innate allure. They spell danger and that captivates, at least from a distance. So snakes are not all that bad just as long as you don't poke them.

By E.R. Ronny


Mental maladies mentioned

It was Global Mental Health Day just last week, and it was aimed at promoting awareness among the general public and changing their attitude and views towards conditions like schizophrenia, autism, dyslexia and such. However, among the very same people that Days like these are initiated in the first place, roam around individuals, or let's call them “cases” whose mentalities are incorrigible and ironically, roam around freely just because they don't have fancy names attached to their conditions, and frankly, people have accepted them just as they are. Look at some of these "patients"

Kiptomycin: Beware of people with this condition; they could give Ebenezer Scrooge a run for his money. Sure, a lot of people prefer bargaining and negotiating with anyone and everyone, but some take it to the worst possible degrees. Be it hawkers, beggars, labourers, helpers, a deal is not a good deal until it's not dealt with ordeals of squeals, and finally to a much compromised deal. It could be a matter of two takas or three, but as long as it's there, they might as well take it free. No calls, not even missed ones, only SMSs. No wonder why Twitter's their favourite site; they express themselves under 140 characters.

Excretitis: So hydrophobics are positively terrified of water. Then we have victims of excretitis; an incurable disease that involves being too weak towards Nature's calls. Waiting 30-40 minutes till they reach home or a place with proper waste disposal facilities is simply wasting time and so embracing any (literally) place as a haven for disposing is pretty asymptomatic. And no; you cannot just blame those poor rickshaw-pullers or labourers. The actions of the patients are in fact so outrageous they question the so-called 'shikhkhito' protagonists' sanity and make one seriously ponder the possibilities of emphasizing sanitary-education (or rather sanity-education) in the national curriculum.

Gimme Oil Disorder: CODs and their sufferers enjoyed their share of publicity, but Gimme Oil Disorder cases are everywhere and they can be anybody: your boss, your co-worker, your teacher, school-bullies, younger sisters and even you yourself. It seems ridiculous how this disorder will amiably turn you to display the slightest hints of buttering and, when you don't, how victims would vow to make your silly little life as miserable as possible, and inevitably make you one of them. In fact it is so ridiculous it is mentally hazardous on both the victims' and acquaintances' parts. Read: Pagols.

Soap-Philia: The Ultimate Housewife Syndrome: Don't be fooled by the name, this can happen to anyone. Are you addicted to channels like Star Plus and Sony? What about those heart-rending (ahem), overly- dramatic, fatally colourful Hindi serials? Do you feel glued to the screen once these shows start and cannot help gaping open-mouthed like an idiot? Perhaps, even have the urge to compare your miserable life to those serials? If all answers are positive, then congratulations, you are a Soap-phallic Housewife (drumroll)!! Please refer to Pabna Mental Hospital for strapping you to that electric chair.

GB (Gari Bhango) Phrenia/ Genjamism: A disorder of the extreme kind, GB-Phrenia/ Genjamism has been plaguing our 'agitated' population, especially the young-blooded ones, for quite some time. College Principal refusing to postpone exams? Gari Bhango. Have an upset stomach or your girlfriend just left you? Gari Bhango. Though exactly how smashing cars or setting fire to your own pants and others' the ultimate cure to all problems is still a mystery to us commoners. And by the way, did we mention the cars in question absolutely CANNOT belong to the GB-frenics/ Genjamists? Perhaps the saying: “Pagoleo nijer bhalo age bujhe” applies here.

Roughly translated into English is a following conversation:
Girl 1: it's gonna fall.
Girl 2: No, no, I say it's gonna stick.
Girl 1: I'm telling you it's gonna fall.
Girl 2: Keep your fingers crossed then.
The thing that these creatures, otherwise known as teenage girls were discussing about was whether the nearby guy's fastened-dangerously-low-level pair of jeans would finally plummet downwards to meet gravity. Aside from that, what with the current baggy style going on: you know, the one that makes men's jeans do a pretty decent sweeping job of the generally filthy city streets; (how very thoughtful of them) we're sure that the Mayor's pretty pleased with them but we must, sadly, categorize them as mental patients for their unusual flair in style. Symptoms also include “chhira-fata” attires” tali-mara” dresses and see-through burkhas, trousers…weird…

By The Don Khan and Kokoro Chan





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