Jungle in the city

I’m sitting in the airco (it’s very hot today) with the ever-present chanting of the students in the background, contemplating life after a morning of teaching. The subject today was ‘assessment’ and the topic, not simple to begin with, seemed to increase in complexity as the lesson progressed. I was glad when it was time for lunch. It’s the rainy season now and life seems to have settled into a regular rhythm of teaching, eating and sleeping. But we did have one adventure this week… a snake in the bathroom! Catherine spotted it on the wall just as she was about to step under the shower. Her scream brought me and Tim running, Tim brandishing a broomstick and me cowering behind him. The snake had by this time hidden itself in the ventilator situated behind the toilet, with just a tiny slither of coil betraying its presence. We had to get rid of it though, no-one wants to sit on a toilet with a snake behind their back, but how? Tim tried to frighten it away by banging on the ventilator with the broomstick, but only succeeded in breaking the fan, which sent the snake twisting and writhing over the bathroom floor towards us, quick as a flash. I never realized how fast snakes could move! And then it hid behind the door and stayed there. After some banging on the door and wondering what to do we decided to shut the door and hope it would leave via the drain under the sink. Which it did … at least we hope it did! Unfortunately I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a photo but it was about 80 cms long, green with a yellow underbelly, and looked a bit like this:

Later we discovered it was a vine snake and ‘only mildly venomous’.

Our campus has a rich assortment of wild-life. There are packs of dogs which sleep in the corridors during the day,  strolling in and out of the classrooms,


and by night roam the campus, howling loudly at the moon.

There are also birds which flutter in and out of the classrooms andan annoying cat (or maybe several) which likes to sit in the lesson and miaow. It also likes to cool off in front of the airco:


Around the bungalow there are squirrels which run over the electricity wires and have regular jumping sessions on the roof, making incredibly loud and rather alarming thuds. And of course there are numerous columns of ants which march resolutely up and down the walls as if following the orders of an unseen commander. I carry out regular ant massacres in the bathroom but as soon as my back is turned they reappear, doubled in number, as if bent on revenge. Here are some dead ants which are not very picturesque, but serve as ‘evidence’:


And last but not least, there are our faithful house companions, the ever-present gekkos, which are not at all scary and eat all the unwanted insects:


They also chirp surprisingly loudly for such small creatures and leave large amounts of black droppings on every available surface, which I’m forever clearing away.

We are always surrounded by wild life but the rainy season is when nature takes over, when snakes invade the house, when trees becomes green and massive and when large fish appear from nowhere in the puddles left by the rain. When the seasonal blue chameleon appears and horrible centipedes and flying beetles and scorpions. In the rainy season there is simply more of everything. It does indeed feel, as one of my TEs put it while we were sitting under this Banyan tree, like our campus is a ‘jungle in the city’.




One comment

  1. Somehow, back to nature doesn’t sound so appealing anymore: snakes, ants, gekkos, bungee jumping squirrels around the house, it’s a miracle you’re getting any sleep at all ;-). Your blog reminded me of an essay I once read by Aldous Huxley “Wordsworth in the tropics”. This is a link, if you’re interested: https://danassays.wordpress.com/collected-essays-by-aldous-huxley/aldous-huxley-essays-wordsworth-in-the-tropics/. And perhaps you could get an ant eater somewhere to help out :-). Good luck, keep your feet dry…


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