Friday, April 8, 2011

Express Youth Forum (EYF) by Indian Express - Katraj Snake Park Trip

Now in my 30s, I have several fond memories from childhood days. One such experience which I had as a kid was one of the many activities with Express Youth Forum (EYF) - which was a club started by Indian Express - a popular newspaper in India. I am not sure if EYF still exists but it was probably the best club I have a been a member of. It was very well organized and had great staff then (in the 90s).

One of the activities organized by EYF I remember was a visit to the Katraj snake park in Pune. The snake park in Katraj was the only snake park around the city of Pune and it was (and still is) quite a popular attraction. The EYF members were asked to wear light colored clothes and a hat to protect themselves from the April heat. The organizers were amazing and I still remember how well the entire event was planned.

We headed out with a team of snake and wildlife experts for a behind-the-scenes tour of the snake park. What followed was a breath-taking experience which still ranks as one of the best in my life. The experts spoke about the difference species of snakes, demonstrated each as we walked thru the park. It was all valuable information about reptiles, especially snakes. I am very fascinated by snakes - they are the mystical and enigmatic creatures, which are scary and adorable at the same time.

The officials had some demonstrations on how snakes preyed on their prey. A rat was let out in a python nest and the way the python tracked and hunted its prey was a very unique and interesting experience. Then there was the best part - one of the officials described how to distinguish the poisonous snakes from the non poisonous ones. And what better way to demonstrate than to get himself bitten by it...yes he did that in front of our eyes. Our eyes popped out! A rat snake bit the official's hand and left two bruise marks on his hand. He just washed it with some water and soap and continued with the discussion about the magnificent snakes around. Talk about practical demonstrations!

We had a nice meal and then continued on a self-discovery tour thru the snake park. Come evening, it was time to board the bus and go home, wiser by a big amount, with our minds enriched with the secret lives of snakes.

EYF and the officials of Katraj Snake Park - if you are still listening, you were amazing and I hope you continue this good work for the youth. And if the officials in that tour happen to read this blog by any chance, I would love to hear from you and your future experiences.

Happy Friday everyone, signing off with this photo of a Skink (something between a snake a lizard) we just came across:

Its a lizard...Its a snake...Its a Skink!

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