Contributor : Capt Ajay Sud, co-founder, Banjara Camps
When people see a snake, the instinct is to scream and run in the opposite direction. Captain Ajay Sud – my college buddy and close friend – catches them. Always the contrarian. He and his partner Rajesh Ojha actually pioneered crazy Uncity ideas back in 1994, which resulted in the creation of the fabulous Banjara Camps, now a household name in many households.
So when the Captain saw a pit viper last year – which he knew to be a highly venomous
snake – he caught it instead of running and screaming (the above photo is of that very reptile). I remember a hike long ago to the Sangla Kanda when he had handed me a snake he caught on the jungle floor. Honestly, holding the snake did fill me with a sense of bravado and manhood. I felt like Rambo for the next whole week, even with my humble biceps.
Unfortunately, this time around the snake bit him. This is his story, one year on.
“Sangla (Kinnaur): One year back, on 16th July 2015, I was bitten by a Himalayan Pit Viper. Ironically, I was holding the viper by its neck and finding it uncomfortable under my grip just loosened up a bit only to be bitten by it on my left hand. Tourniquet and squeezing out blood with my mouth from where I was bitten was followed by a visit to the local hospital where I was told by the Doctor that I will be attended to only at 3 pm after he had finished his lunch and had siesta. Meanwhile, to kill time, I ended up with a “jhaad phook wala” who had residence close to the hospital. The gentleman did his tricks and assured me that no one has ever died under his care. By the time I was free to go, the Doctor had landed in the hospital. He observed me and my wound from about ten feet and then instructed the nurse to give me a pain killer and an antibiotic!
By this time, it was getting painful and we decided to drive couple of hours to get to bigger hospital in Recong Peo. A friend who got to know about my predicament said that couple
of “sapera wallahs” have just landed up at his doorstep and that I must give them a chance before going to the hospital. Chance I gave. They immediately pricked my hand with a needle and with a sheep horn shaped hollow instrument, sucked “venom” out of my hand. I could see blood (that they had pricked) and some saliva kind of liquid. For few moments, I thought that the venom is really out and was relieved. But then, soon it dawned on me that how could venom and blood be separate? Anyway, the sapera wallahs made some good money and off they went.
Now, it was time to get to the hospital as it was getting very very painful. On arrival, I was told that I can’t be given anti-venom straightaway without first ascertaining the kind of snake I was bitten by. Inspite of showing doctors the photograph of the snake and also the fact that only Himalayan Pit Vipers are found at that altitude (9000 Feet/2700 M), the doctors went through the drill. The night was something to remember. Only, in the morning was I administered anti-venom and was assured that I can look forward to many more summers.
For the last 23 years, I have been here in high altitude, I had never seen the inside of the hospital. So to my surprise, I got a room with a window from where I could look at the 20000 Feet/ 6000 M) high massif of Kinner Kailash. For just that magnificent view, I could have easily stayed in that room for more than three days that I actually stayed.
It is 16th July again. I will be more careful today – after all it is my wife Chandrika’s birthday.
As far as the snake is concerned, it must be still moving around freely as I told my colleagues that the snake should either be left to himself or caught and dropped on the other side of the Baspa river. After all, it is I who had invaded his space.”
About the writer : Captain Ajay Sud served in the Indian army for five years as an infantry officer, including 2 years in Sri-Lanka. Disillusioned with the experience, he moved out and after trying his hand (pun intended) at various things he enrolled in the MBA program at Panjab University (a.k.a PU) where he supported poor, lovelorn classmates in their courting of long lost female penpals, amongst other things. Some of those social causes ended in happy marriages, including my own. On graduating from PU he tried a regular corporate job, and again found the hollowness too difficult to sustain. So he took off into the mountains, and went on to create the fabulous and highly successful Banjara Camps with his partner. He now travels extensively, hikes and follows his love for Photography with a passion. To see a sample of his work please visit http://www.banjaracamps.com/PhotoGallery.aspx (Highly recommend full-screen).