Lifescapes Gallery

12 / Jun / 2014
And the ‘Best Actor Award’ Goes To…
Checkered Keelback, Coorg Photograph: Ganesh H. Shankar Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

And the ‘Best Actor Award’ Goes To…

“A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma…” Churchill’s famous words may well have been said of the Checkered Keelback at the Oscars presentation ceremony, for this serpent is the ultimate thespian, playing multiple roles with effortless ease. Like the best ‘method actors’, Mr. Keelback must have studied his objects of inspiration intensely so he could copy their mannerisms and body language whenever the need arose. And, in the teeming wetlands of Coorg, threat and conflict are omnipresent and constantly test his skills. An extremely aggressive water dweller, what he lacks in venom, he makes up for in attitude, and a ready stock of dramatis personae. When disturbed, he’ll instantly slip into the role of that reptilian hero, the Cobra, by flattening his fore-body, raising it off the ground and presenting a passable imitation of the famed hood. If this doesn’t work, and the intruder comes closer, he sheds his Cobra skin and slips into that of a Shaolin monk, by putting on a martial show; leaping off the ground, lunging and snapping even while airborne. These histrionics are usually a ‘moving’ experience for the audience, which beats a hasty retreat, but for those who need more sensory convincing, the Keelback goes into ‘Skunk Mode’ and releases an extremely foul smelling odour guaranteed to repel anyone without a cold. Our protagonist, however, saves his best performance for the most demanding audience, usually natural predators like the Mongoose. When his strikes prove impotent against this aggressor, he sinks to the ground, and, in slow motion, turns over on his back, maintaining a slow, muscular movement like a snake with its head bashed in. He draws out this tearjerker moment, much like a popular Bollywood superstar (who endorses everything from glycerine to snake oil) till the audience departs, sniffing into its hankies, and he can spring back to life and slither away into the sunset.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2014 at 6:46 am and is filed under Coorg, Reptiles . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Ganesh H Shankar says:

    Thanks Sekar! My privilege too!

  2. Srinivasan Sekar says:

    Privileged to have known both Ganesh Shankar and Rajesh Ramaswamy as close friends/associates. What a great photo and what a great write-up. I feel proud to have been associated with both of you.

  3. Dr.U.Ravi Rao says:

    What a beautiful photograph by Ganesh Shankar.
    More than that Rajesh Ramaswamys story makes it so very
    Interesting!
    Keep up the good job!

    • rajesh ramaswamy says:

      Thanx so much Doc….if you’ve been a regular reader you’ll see that there are some specimens of the medical community who’ve contributed hugely to the success of Lifescapes. Tnx for the kind words, btw 😀

  4. Reshmi says:

    Fab fab write up. Made me look at my phobia with new eyes. The image portrayed here both in picture and in words conjured up an almost ‘humane’ persona and I could not bu6 go ‘awww’. 🙂 My memories of the care at Orange County, Kabini when I stayed there is superb although I was so unwell I could only eat ragi porridge. I would like to return one day and enjoy the stay properly like it ought to have been. 5 star service x

    • rajesh ramaswamy says:

      Dear Reshmi….we’d all love to have you back with us when you’re fully well, and able to get out into the wilds. Cheers and hope to seeya soon 🙂

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