Sunday, October 10, 2010

Serpent in the city

One often reads stories in newspapers in the city columns, of some wild animals venturing into the city...and then some wildlife NGO rescuing them. They are stories day you find yourself in the middle of one.

I live in Dwarka and was driving home one afternoon. Dwarka has very good roads, three lanes on each side of the road with a road divider in between. I was driving in the middle lane...having to go straight.

And suddenly I find this 'something' wriggling on the road. In a second I had applied the breaks when I realised that 'something' was a snake. It was crossing the road from its edge to its centre towards the road divider or median. The taxi in the lane right next to the road divider had also stopped. I looked at its driver and smiled as the snake crossed our part of the road and went straight on to the road divider. There was a pruned bougainvella plant there...and the snake climbed that bush and settled there on the road the middle of the road.

The taxi driver pulled away and something happened to me and I parked my car on the side of the road. It was a special day for me that day. Had just finished the Landmark Education Advanced course on Sunday. At such moments the past comes in front of you immediately...lets go home...the snake will find its way. Who will get into the rigmarole of saving a snake? Can it be saved? It will involve a lot of time to do it? I dont even know how to do it etc. etc. favourite line..."Are yaar kaun pade iss pachre men' i.e 'Who wants to get into this botheration?'

But as they say in the advanced course…one puts the past behind and new possibilities arise. Where was my possibility? I knew that if the snake tried to get out of the road divider and start to cross the road on the other side…it will get crushed under somebody’s car. Or even if the drivers were considerate on the other side. People would get together and kill that confused snake.

But as I had parked my car aside…I had decided I wanted to save the snake.

The traffic on the road had smoothened and every body was zipping by, oblivious of the fact that there was a serpent on the road divider. A few passer bys who had seen the snake were looking into the bushes identifying in which bush it had gone. There were others who were curious about what were the people looking at. They were equally excited, when they got to know that there was a snake in the bush.

Anyhow, the first thing which came to my mind was the brandname ‘Friendicoes’, a popular NGO in Delhi, which rescues dogs and other such animals. I wasn’t sure if they were into snakes but still I made a call to my wife to get their number. My wife had got some dog pups rescued from near her office as they were starving. Wife replied that she would sms me Friendicoes number in a second.

Within that second I thought of my favourite number – ‘eight times 2’ of Just dial. Called them up and asked for numbers of NGOs who rescue animals. The first name was the NGO- ‘Wildlife SOS’. I knew they were the ones who could rescue that snake. But would they respond?

I made a few calls and got in touch with this person from Wildlife SOS called Kartik Satya. The guy was sweet. He first appreciated me for having made a call to them and second he said that there was a rescue team at the International aiport…which would come to Dwarka immediately. He just requested me to just stand around that bush with a stick in hand so that the snake does not come out.

I was scared but I did stand near the bush. But the traffic was zipping by at full speed. What if the snake decides to take the plunge…it would be crushed in seconds. Delhi gives you ideas and suddenly one came in my mind. How many times driving across Delhi have we seen some workers blocking one of the lanes on road due to some reason…may be for sweeping near the road dividers, or tankers giving water to plants on the road dividers or may be even some minor repair work on the road…or may be even a car breaking down. All that you find on the road in a stone or some branches of a tree. And sometimes a man standing and moving his hands signing you to move into the next lane.

I decided to do the same…take the city in my hands. I decided to block the lanes right next to the road divider. So that even if the snake tries to come out in a split second…we have some breathing space to distract it and get him back inside.

There was a vegetable vendor on the side of the road..who was kind enough to give his plastic crate and I placed it in the middle of one of the lanes along with a branch of a tree. So, one lane was blocked. On the other side I put some stones and whatever I could lay my hands to near the road. Some dry branches, a broken wash basin, a polythene with something. But still some zipping cars just broke my assortment of stones and everything got spilled on the road.

In a few minutes I was doing an assignment…I had never imagined I will ever do in my life. Standing on the road and directing the cars to move into the next lane like the one I explained above.

A kind rickshaw wallah, his name was Gautam helped me out in getting the road blocked, as a number of other people just watched the show.

In all this action, I was also keeping an eye on the snake in the bush. He was rolling away to glory with his tongue coming out and going out as they do in discovery.

Well….lets cut it short…in no time the rescue team was there and I was all set with my mobile camera to record the action. But don’t know what happened…my phone stopped working… ‘hang ho gaya’.

The rescue team came in a Tata 207 truck with two dogs in the lorry in cages. And out came four people with some sticks and all…probably to handle the snake. Their leader asked me…where is the snake. I pointed towards the bush. He almost peeped into the bush. He face was so close that I wondered…what would happen if the snake just shot at him. And just as I was thinking about it…he put his hand in the bush and pulled out the snake with his bare hands. The snake wriggled and actually wrapped around his tummy. Was this man mad…I thought. And suddenly it dawned on me that perhaps it’s a non poisonous snake. I asked him and he replied in affirmative.

Well the snake was rescued and put in a piece of cloth to be released in some jungle area of Delhi. I signed a form of the NGO, made a small donation and was at home in no time.

When I reached home…I had two thoughts in mind

I checked my mobile and found that I had made the call to Wildlife SOS at 3.18 pm and the time in my mobile at that time was 4. 20 pm. Which means the entire operation was over in just an hour. And I was thinking of shying away from it… ‘kaun iss pachre men pade’. The entire ‘pachda’ was just for an hour. I seriously don’t mind giving an hour to rescue a snake…any day. And moreover, what stops most of us from doing it is that we think..we don’t know and it may take a lot of time to rescue an animal. I think I would have also driven by had I not done the Landmark Advanced Course…where you learn to live in the present and leave the past behind. I parked my car aside and just jumped into action because there was no past stopping me to say ‘it will take a lot of time’ or ‘I wont be able to do it’. I just lived the moment and did it. Thanks Landmark
The second thought I had was that had I known it is a non-poisonous snake. I could have myself rescued it and released it somewhere. All of us read and brag about the fact that 90% of the snakes in the world are non-poisonous. But we panic when we see one. Most of them are killed just like that. If there is one snake expert in one region of the city…a lot of these snakes could be saved…as people would call up the snake expert and rescue snakes. Now I am planning to ask Wildlife SOS…if I can learn to identify snakes by volunteering with their team for an year or so. I think in an year…people in Dwarka and areas around can certainly bank on me.

I need to stop now and write a mail to Wildlife SOS.

P.S – If you see the picture of the snake above…I am sure you will also think it’s a dangerous snake…so did I. I thought it was a cobra…but it was a rat snake.
- The phone number of Wildlife SOS in Delhi is 9871963535


Aanchal Gupta said...

Great job Shankar!!! I am proud to be your friend... Keep up the good work

saurabh said...

I feel so proud of you. Your story will inspire lot many. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

i was with you ,remember . it was a good job.

sn said...

great !!i listened to this story twice n reading now...still touches'moves n inspires me !!
thats the power of landmark !!
keep up the gud work !

Parvarish said...

Sir, Tussi Great Ho!!

fakhra said...

Shankar! that was some courage! very happy to read the story..You might be feeling so proud of yourself! bahut badhiya!!

Amita said...

One of the things I already loved about you - your idealism! Now there's another - your bravery!

bobby said...

An extremely encouraging experience. Am happy to know people like you do exist even now. Thanks for sharing the Wildlife SOS no. I have saved it, in case i ever need it.