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Chennai News 24 September

Hi Everyone,
Wishing all of you who are fasting a bountiful month of sumptuous vegetarian cuisine. 
I would like to thank Mahesh for his latest article which you will find in pages 3,4 and 5. He has also asked me to add these two sites which he would like you to look at. https://www.facebook.com/nickevanskzn/  (Nick Evans for snake relocations in KZN area.) 
https://www.africansnakebiteinstitute.com/ (Online resource to learn about South African snakes and how to avoid conflicts with snakes.)
I hope you are all safe. I am really sad that so many friends and relatives have passed away in the last few months. I see that SA is now on level two so hopefully that means that the situation is improving.
Please feel free to write to me about what is happening in your part of the world. I believe that I have a reader in Antwerp. I would like to get in touch with him.
I have been asked by a few people to source out some murthies for their temples. For the purposes of shipping and bringing that cost down it will be better if I can consolidate the shipment. So if anyone of you (or knows someone) that wants to also order murthies then contact me. I would like to concentrate on this for the next few months before tourism starts again.    

I still have one more copy of the North Arcot panjangam. If you want to purchase it then please email me at egovender@gmail.com. I will give it at a discounted price.
It is time to kick start our businesses. One of the ways is to advertise whatever you are doing. With our very high readership and very reasonable rates it is worth advertising in our newsletter. You can advertise for a full year (52 weeks) for a cheaper price than a single one time advert in one of the local publications.  Please contact me if you want to advertise your business and services.

I know not much is happening because of Lockdown however if you have any happenings personally or for your organisation to share please send it to me at egovender@gmail.com. Accompanying photos will be appreciated.

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 The Feral Nomad: Mahesh explains his love for snakes and his experience with them in Srilanka. 

Heritage Day: Wishing all of you a very happy and culturally enriched Heritage Day. Since most of you will be busy tomorrow, I have decided to send out the newsletter today itself. 

Tourism: The tourist sector is waiting for an announcement by the government next week concerning tourism into India. We are all hoping that the authorities concerned will allow tourists into India in some form maybe starting with those who are fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated. The blanket ban at the moment just does not seem right for all concerned. So watch this space. 

Abhiyum Anuvum is a movie made simultaneously in Tamil and Malayalam. The movie stars Tovino Thomas as Abhi and Piaa Bajpai as Anu. Abhi an average boy who works and lives a mundane life befriends the lively, vivacious and bubbly Abhi who is a popular crusader of social issues on the internet. They become friends on Facebook and then fall in love. Abhi travels from his workplace in Chennai to Ooty the hometown of Anu. They decide to marry at once and then settle in Chennai. However, when Anu becomes pregnant they find that an action in their past will come to affect them and threaten their marriage. What is the problem and how do they solve it is the rest of the movie. I must tell you that I have not seen this subject before in our movies. The movie also stars Prabhu, Rohini and Suhasni. The movie is streaming on Amazon Prime. 

Krishna and his Leela is an adult Telugu movie and can be seen on Netflix. Krishna, who is a playboy, finds himself in a precarious position when his ex-girlfriend who had dumped him comes back to his life. Krishna’s present girlfriend Radha is in his hometown of Vishakhapatnam and his ex-girlfriend Sathya is in Bangalore where he is transferred to. The whole movie is about how he carries out these clandestine relationships without either knowing. This leads him into spinning a web of lies and deceit. However, he says that he genuinely loves both of them and does not know how to choose between them. After watching thousands of Indian movies, I could guess the end right down to the last scene. Tell me if you also could. The movie stars Siddu Jonnalagadda (Krishna), Shraddha Srinath (Sathya), Shalini Vadnikatti (Radha) as the main players. 

Annabelle Sethupathi is a story involving ghosts but not the frightening type but rather the comical type. The main stars are Tapsee Pannu and Yogi Babu who is just superb in his role. Tapsee acts as Durga a member of a family of thieves and also as Annabelle an English lady in the flashback story from the fifties. The movie is basically two parts ie a comedy filled present and a beautiful love story between Annabelle and the Raja (Vijay Sethupathi). Yogi Babu is the cook of both the Raja and in the present. You have to watch the movie to understand this. My wife liked the comedy part, and I liked the love story flashback a little more. It is an entertaining movie that will keep you laughing. The palace is simply beautiful. It is showing on Disney Hotstar. In addition to the Tamil, you can also watch it in Telugu under the same title, and in Hindi as Annabelle Rathore

The Feral Nomad – Reptile Life in Sri Lanka 

It was a usual morning at Matara. I was sipping a cup of coffee before I could start my day. Suddenly I noticed the caretaker of my house frantically running to the beach. I followed him to the beach and saw a whole bunch of my local neighbours and my classmates standing on the beach. I joined them to find a small crocodile basking on the other end of the beach. It was a sub-adult saltwater crocodile, and they are adapted to live in saline conditions. They spend most of their life in estuaries and use the sea to migrate between the estuaries. That individual must have been brought with the current and too tired to swim against the waves. Later that day it was gone. Ever since we always had a watch out for the salties while taking a dip in the water. 

The most frustrating part of doing my previous semester in Belgium was not able to see my favourite kind of animal, the reptiles. I have been fascinated by these creatures since my younger days. As a herpetologist, I have spent the last seven years working with these gentle creatures. I also spend a good portion of time explaining to people my work has nothing to do with herpes. For a very interesting and adventurous field of study, they didn’t put much thought into the name. 

I was looking forward to my semester in Sri Lanka. Although I was underestimating the abundance and diversity of reptiles that I would encounter in my backyard in Matara. I remember the very first day we moved in I stumbled upon a common rat snake in our garden. With absolute excitement, I grabbed the snake and saw the frozen expression of my housemates. At least they were glad they have a resident snake whisperer. 

Sri Lanka is home to many species of reptiles, and one does not have to hike through dense forests to find them. As we walk through the streets a very common sight are the monitor lizards. Belonging to the same clan as the mighty komodos they have a very dragon-like stature. They move around slowly but shoot off with a hiss if we get too close to them. Even tinier are the kangaroo lizards getting their name from their bipedal locomotion which is very kangaroo-like especially when they hop off the plants when I try to catch them. 

Not all reptiles are fun to have around though. I remember one afternoon I got a message from my friend that there is a cobra in the neighbour’s house. I quickly put on my shoes and ran with my snake hook. There was nothing but absolute panic and the whole village was there. The snake was under a slab, and it slithered into a nearby burrow as we tried to catch it. I helped them to dig up the snake from a burrow. We noticed the tail. I set up the snake bag and turned with my hook only to find that my neighbour’s father had already caught the snake bare hands. Something I would never do with a venomous snake. We bagged the snake, and I went with a local wildlife department staff to release the snake in a nearby forest patch. Although it is exhilarating to think of having a snake in your backyard. They do good and little or no harm at all. Snakes are excellent pest control and munch on all those unlimited rats in our backyards. In this case, it was hard to convince them to leave the snake as such. I was just glad that it was not killed. 

Another interesting encounter with a snake happened on the university campus. A green vine snake. Their bright green colour makes it impossible to find them when on vegetation. But we were lucky to spot it on our university entrance resting on the contrasting brown gate. I bumped into at least one vine snake a night during my transects in the rainforests in the past. Usually seeing them sleep on the edge of the forests on branches all curled up and eyes wide open. It took me some time to get used to the fact that snakes do not have eyelids. I even spent the initial few nights gently moving my hands in front of a curled-up snake to check if it is in sleep. Some nights I encountered a bunch of these sleeping beauties in consecutive trees. I crossed them singing pointless lullabies knowing that snakes do not have ears too. 

Why is sighting such a common species special for me in this case? I should take you to its scientific name Ahaetulla (genus) which means ‘eye poker’ in Sinhala. They might have received the name from its characteristic defensive position looking straight into someone’s eyes. It makes more sense knowing that most encounters of this snake are at eye level as they are tree-dwelling species. But they do nothing more than the awkward stare in the eye. 

This is pretty much the story of all reptiles. Highly misconceived and misunderstood. It made sense to have various myths and tales in the olden days toward people from getting too close to these animals. Unlike other animals, reptiles are highly adaptable to human-dominated conditions as long as there is enough food. We have no choice but to co-exist with them. With a little awareness, I do not see why it is not possible. Now go around your room and find that gekho with whom you have been sharing your room with and thank them for feeding on the annoying mosquitoes. 

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Also read: Chennai News 20 August

Chennai news 30 July

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