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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, March 7, 2014: The snake charmer


Today's Pic of the Day is simply a favourite photo of mine taken whilst I was on what, on reflection, was probably the most dangerous holiday of my life - two weeks of motorcycling around Goa in India in March 2008.

The notion of a couple of weeks on two wheels cruising around an enchanting part of India looked highly attractive when I decided to book the holiday. It was only when I finally eased myself onto the saddle of a Royal Enfield 350cc Bullet and took to the roads of Goa with a handful of other similarly deluded folks that the truth gradually dawned on us.

Far from being the Kings of the Road that I must have imagined in my fanciful thoughts, I rapidly found that being on two wheels put you pretty much right on the bottom rung of the ladder of importance on the highway and therefore very vulnerable. Not only was every other vehicle much bigger than me, but they knew it and used this knowledge to push, shove and otherwise bully their way through the other traffic - and me!

Most fearsome were the intercity buses, who were bigger and faster than everything else, and consequently went everywhere at full throttle only swerving to the side of the road to collect another passenger. You quickly picked them up on your 'radar' when you head the continuous 'tootling' blare of their two-tone air horns approaching from behind at a great rate of knots.

These buses had another reason to make me particularly wary, as the passenger windows were always wide open and the bright red streaks and stains of the spat betel-nut spittle all down the sides of the bus attested to the habits of the passengers. If you didn't look out, you became just another target for an ejected stream of the steaming red juice....

Everyone used their vehicle horns, pretty much continuously, as it was about the only way of say "I'm here, keep out of my way" to every other road user. Needless to say, most horns wore out pretty fast with this treatment and real loud after-market replacement horns were red hot sellers!

As if it was not enough to have to put up with the scares of buses , lorries, micro-buses and cars - but then there were the sacred cows, monkeys, elephants, dogs and random humans all who contrived to stroll out onto the road just as I was about to pass that very spot!

Ah yes, that was a holiday to remember! Even when the normally warm, dry weather changed dramatically as a cyclone dumped inches of rain on us - and me with no wet weather clothing (well, it wasn't going to rain was it?). Riding along pot holed Goan roads with the deep holes obscured by deep water was fun (?) even when the rain turned the red earth to the consistency of soggy cement.... Ah those were the days....

Anyway, today's photo is of a snake charmer who took advantage of a multi-vehicle highway accident (which always attracted a good crowd of onlookers) to turn up with his coiled Cobra in the basket and set himself down in front of the crowd and give us all an impromptu performance of his skills for a few Rupees. Just surreal. India, I love you!


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  • Snake charmer in Goa: An impromptu performance by a snake charmer

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

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No, everyone appeared to throw in a few (very small) coins! I loved his thick specs - I wonder if he ever saw his performing snake properly!

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

Maybe the thick specs were to make his eyes look huge -  and scare the snake !

If any readers have a chance to stroke or hold a harmless snake then you must try it.

Its amazing how many of your fears just vanish. Just do it in a zoo under supervision !

Last edited by GarryRF

We need to hear more about that fascinating motorcycle journey, Mac!  I'm sure you've more photos and more tales to share!


Anyway, I love these snake charmers.  The cobras are, of course, devenomized and safe, but make an imposing sight as they rise from their baskets, their hoods extended.  This pair had their eyes on a performing monkey, whom they obviously instinctively loathed.


Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie


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  • Hooded cobras, Sri Lanka
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