October 20, 2012

One ordinary day in Indira park

15 October 2012: It was a morning like any other, except that I had been delayed and was going later than normal to Indira Park for a walk. I meant to take petrol on the way, but the queue at the petrol pump put me off. It was sunny and hot when I entered the park. On days like this, I take a tree-lined, shady route, one that is more interesting than the well-laidout path. Most of the walkers had left and I was enjoying the quiet.

I was on the bridge over the water body when I suddenly stopped in my track, awestruck by what I was seeing. On the slope next to the water below were two 5-foot snakes entwined and vertical. It looked like they were mating. I could not believe my luck! There was not a soul around and I stood rooted to the spot, looking at the action before me. I had gone to Indira Park hundreds of times but had never ever seen a snake. I groped in my bag for my phone and took a few photos. But my hands were shivering and heart racing. One thought dominated my mind. If they came towards me, should I run straight or zig-zag?

This is the photo I took. Please enlarge and look inside the red circle. Not a clear photo but it is a record of an exciting moment.


I have now read about this and learnt that these snakes are neither dancing (snakes do not dance) nor are they mating. What I saw was a wrestling match between two male snakes of the same species. This is what Janaki Lenin says in her article, "Snake Wrestlers" (The Hindu, 2 March 2012).

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"Duelling snakes twine their lower bodies around each other, rise high off the ground and try to slam the opponent to the ground. Their heads weave higher and higher, midair, as each tries to gain the height necessary to throw the rival down. Their fluid and graceful movements seems more like dance than battle. It can go on for an hour and saps the snakes of energy. Stamina is a prime criterion for winning. The one that tires and gives up first is the loser...
...There’s often a female snake in the vicinity of such coiled combat.
When two snakes are engrossed in each other, they become oblivious to their surroundings. A pair of large king cobras fought a long, hard battle across a bridge in Karnataka while people parked their vehicles and gathered around to watch. Unmindful of spectators, snakes have fought in rice fields, plantations, and the courtyards of farmhouses."
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Sure, they were engrossed and did not bother about me. Anyway, after a while, they separated and one of them moved in my direction. I turned and took a few steps back and began walking away. Then I saw it  go into the bushes. I decided to stand there and watch the other one till it disappeared. 
It was a very exciting moment in my life. I felt that the unusual delay in the morning was so I could see this sight! I felt special and blessed!  This will be one of my favourite stories and I will add it to my lizard-garden lizard-snake encounters (yes, a blog post on that later). And I know that I will feel the thrill every time I narrate this particular incident to someone! 

1 comment:

Dhruva's Grandpa said...

You are twice blessed, Sadhana ! First because you witnessed a unique encounter without any interruption.Second time when the snake started coming towards you but course corrected itself .
Would like to know more about the lizard-snake encounter.