Part Two: Encounters with Wildlife

A train ride in India is always adventurous and exotic at any given time, especially for the visitor.  The carriages are packed no matter whether it’s the Calcutta-Delhi Express, the Mumbai (Bombay) – Calcutta routing, or on rural trains.   
When possible, it’s good to get a first-class ticket if you wish to avoid the crowds. Not always easy, but they are available if you ask the ticket-seller.  On one of my rural train rides (after experiencing the Calcutta-Mumbai Express), a man dressed in traditional Indian attire joined my compartment, where thus far I’d been alone.
He had the strangest animal with him on a leash. I’d never seen anything like it before.  It had a long snout and was very restless.  I couldn’t keep my eyes from this creature, who although on a leash, was definitely wild. “Do not worry”, said the man. “Does not bite.  Only cobras.” “What is it?” I asked.

Oh, you do not know?  This is a Mongoose.  I am a doctor and visit patients in rural villages where there may be King Cobras.  That’s why I have my protector and friend with me.  Did you know the Mongoose is the only animal that will take on a Cobra and kill it?

Well, what a revelation.  Imagine, a GP who does ‘house calls’ with a Mongoose, protecting him from venomous King Cobras.

Coming soon, Part Three: Encounters with Wildlife

Henri van Bentum

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