Thursday, April 09, 2009
Chameleon on a Suicide Mission
Last Sunday was going to be one of those boreing weekends, or so I thought. As I contemplated my camera bag I remembered that the E3 had not been on a trip for a awhile. Siruvani has been an enduring attraction but poor planning always ensured that I never got there. So I thought, why not today? I hadn't anticipated any obstacle but I had underestmated my mother. She wasn't very keen, especially with a suspect ear problem that had the penchant to act up at all the wrong moments.
I loaded my gear into my car and thought I'd take a drive closer to home. There was Kava & Valiya_erie. So off I went to explore the world. As I reached close to my destination my phone rang. It was a friend from Coimbatore inviting me to see some fancy new equipment they were installing. I did not need any other excuse and pointed my car north-east on the NH 47.
After the formalities and a brunch I was wondering what to do with the rest of the day. Siruvani beckoned, but I wasn't sure. Uncharted territory for me and an unpredicatble ear problem, so I decided to explore a straight forward route I was familiar with. The road to Silent Valley National Park through Anaikatti. The drive out of Coimbatore was uneventful as we drove past the Salim Ali Center for Ornithology, some spiritual Ashrams and hamlets, unless of course, a pile of dried elephant dung can be termed interesting. The blue jay was too busy chasing dragonflies to be interested in giving me a pose.
Some fifteen kilometers before Mukkali the dashboard clock told me it was time to return. Disappointed with a half-finished drive I turned around to head back, not anticipating I'd be involved in aborting a certain roadkill.
Just after Anaikatti the road goes parallel to a little rivulet and as it crests ridge the road dips and turns to the right. I saw something green on the edge of the road and slowed down. Then I slammed my brakes and jumped out. It was a chameleon crossing the road.
It was literally on its toes, only the claws touching the hot asphalt, as it verrrrrryy slowwwwly moved toward the center of the road. The situation was alarming. Any moment some speeding vehicle could run it over. I had to head it of.
I went in front of it and shooed it. It just turned further towards the center of the road, gave me a backward stare with its highly mobile eye. It seemed to be asking me,"Who in the hell are you?"
For the next few minutes we were hopping about on hot asphalt. The creature trying to go south across the road and me trying to head it north, off the road. This bizzare dance had it attarct someone and it did. An old lady sitting under a tree waiting for a bus saw the commotion and ambled across to investigate. What she saw must have had her in splits but she kept her composure. Perhaps, pitying me because she would have thought the baking sun must have garbled my brain. Then she saw the cause for my strange behaviour and advised me, "Pachondi saar, pudichukonge" (Chameleon sir, catch it).
I would have, if not for the two kilograms of E3 and lens in my hands. I've always wanted to do a Jeff Corwin and why would I forego a chance.
Then providence decided to intervene in a dramatic fashion. A Tamilnadu State Transport Corporaton bus sped into view as I was doing a jig on the road. Certainly the driver must have seen me and decided I was having a sun-stroke. As he closed in on us I waved frantically to the other side of the road. He swerved to the left, missing the chameleon and me by a few inches, glared at me and sped onward.
I gasped in relief, partly because all the dancing was making me pant, and partly because I noticed the cause of my exertions going off in a hurry; and he was going the other way.
Maybe the mad cap dancing in his way or maybe a few tons of steel & rubber whizzing past his nose. Whatever it was he'd shelved his plan to cross the road and had returned to the safety of the roadside scrub.
As for me, I was tired but proud. I'd prevented a roadkill. Even if it was only an insignificant creature, it still was God's creation.
Rakesh, Soumya & gang would have been proud of me!!