The most common colour reported for a snake is ‘chocolatey’. As a snake rescuer for nearly 10 years now, whenever I hear these words over the phone, “Tumse na ho payega” (This is beyond you) is normally what I say in my head to the caller. Out loud, however, I say: “Pochto 10-15 mintat” (I’ll be there in 10-15 minutes).
It really helps if the caller is in a calm, collected state of mind as opposed to being in full-blown panic mode when they report the snake. Otherwise, the imagination takes over. “10’ laamb aahe!” (It’s 10 feet long!), “Fanaa baghitla hay!” (I’ve seen the hood!), or simply “Layee motha aahe!” (It’s huge!) often turn out to be big disappointments for me, as each time I hear these reports, I hold that tiny hope that there actually is a 10’ Indian Cobra on the loose with world record measurements!
In the case of this video, though, things were very cloudy from the start.
The reporter had only seen a snake crawl up into a car chassis (I think it was a Santro) with no additional information regarding its appearance. If I’m not already prepared, it takes me 5 minutes at most to get on the road after I hang up the phone. In this case, it takes me about 10 minutes to get to the scene in Khadki from my home in Aundh. Once I arrive, I find about 10 people surrounding a car in a covered parking lot. After looking around the car for another 5 minutes, I decide that the parking area is far too dark, and so I have the owner get in the car and bring it out into the open – this is after making sure that the snake is not in the seating area, of course. I also get him to pop open the bonnet… and there it is – a Naja Naja – who had comfortably coiled himself somewhere behind and below the air filter.
The challenge is to get him to extend so I can grab the tail when it’s as far as possible from the head. I prod him a couple of times with my stick to get him to uncoil and move. At one point, I finally feel an opportunity arise, but as soon as I stick my hand in, the head appears mere inches from my fingers. A strong expletive flits through my mind as I remind myself not to be so trigger happy. A couple of more pokes and finally the hoodie (my nickname for cobras) starts to move away – I can see the head, and the tail safely away from it – and... GRAB!
The rest is YouTube history.
As one of the audience watching said, “HORIGINAL NAAG HOTA!”(It was an original cobra!)
Watch the full video here!