Tyrants, looters, politicians, angry Varuna, and now Snails too – Kodagu under constant attack! 2/2

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Land Snails are hermaphrodites meaning their body contains the sex organs of both female and male. Interestingly they do mate, the very reason for this article is the mating, guess this is one of the rare moments when a mating snail is caught on camera. They mate leisurely like turtles and seem gentle. I sat there watching the beauty and glory of creation in its rudimentary form for a while, oblivious of passer-by’s. Luckily after an hour, my husband was kind enough to let me to go back there to watch them.

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Perhaps these are one of its kinds who can taste sex from both perspectives… wondering if they are more advanced than most beings on earth. Before mating they have a courtship ritual which could last for hours. They caress each other with their tentacles, nibble at lips and rock their bodies back and forth. Oddly I was awestruck to learn that there are many species which pierce the body of the other with a long, sharp spear, called a “love dart”, something like stimulating or to indicate their readiness!

It is said that more than 99 percent of the millions of sperms they’ll exchange are digested by the snail before finding their way to the safety of the storage pouch. In other words it reduces the number of fertilized eggs in a major way. So Nature provided an extreme solution, transfer the (specially ordered)  mucus to prevent a snail’s from digesting so much semen.

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It is said that during the mating action the body is aligned in such a way that male organ of each is inserted into the female organ of the other. During the process they exchange sperm, then each stores the sperm in a special storage pouch and uses it to fertilize their own eggs, some times over the course of several months. In the right environment they can lay hundreds of eggs and seems like these extra ordinary beings are here to stay even after humans manage to kill each other.

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Snails produce mucus, lots and lots of it for lubrication, though it looks repulsive to human eye, the usage is beyond anyone’s perception. Mucus can be thin for easy gliding across a smooth surface or thick to protect them from rough surfaces. To begin with it provides a protective layer between a surface and the snail’s fragile body aiding them effectively when they climb over sharp surface without harm. It helps them move, insulates their body, keep away dirt and germs, and it holds moisture so they don’t desiccate. Amazingly when snails go into a sleep-state (depending upon the conditions either they hibernate or estivate), even it plugs the shell opening to keep them moist and safe. Last but not the least it prevents them from over digesting the semen and like the Indian TV commercial would go, perhaps it might help them find their mating partners! Hahahahah..

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Their glossy shells, usually forming a logarithmic spiral can be sinistral or dextral is made of calcium carbonate which they constantly lug around, protects them from weather, certain predators and most importantly to hold the moisture. Moisture is very essential for their survival. A molluscs (phylum Millusca) with 43,000 species to boast are found just about anywhere from deserts to tropics, from sea level to mountain tops, practically in all parts of the earth were evolved even before the man did. They come in different shapes, patterning, texture – some smooth while some bumpy colours, mostly hairless and sizes including the giant African snails and the shell less slugs which gardeners hate them their love for the plants. If required they can withdraw into the shell to escape inclement weather (too hot, too cold or too dry), protection from predator or simply to take rest and are capable of staying for a lengthy periods if necessary.

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Even though their shell has no life, its start during embryonic development itself and come out from the pearly eggs with it. At birth they are delicate, transparent and colourless, and eventually over a period of time it hardens and becomes colourful. Shell’s shape and form is unique and specific to each species. In layman’s understanding it is something like the human hair or nail! In fact like the human nail, their inimitable rasp-like tongue called radula which grows from the base throughout the life is used to scrape food. They flourish in right conditions particularly with the availability of calcium. It is so important for them that if they don’t get enough calcium, they are known to devour each other’s shells!! If the shells are attacked then you can see the visible dry or dull shells. Otherwise the healthy shell gleams with freshness.

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Life span of snails vary depending upon the species from anywhere between one year to ten plus years. Calcium rich Snails are food for wildlife – birds, reptiles, insects and mammals including man (particular species only – a delicacy sold at fancy restaurants). Even it is farmed, what is known as helici-culture but eating it won’t make someone hermaphrodites. Olden day’s Roman soldiers carried snails with them for food. If some likes to devour them, some consider them pests and yet some others like to keep them as pets too.

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Love & Romance…. Two faces of the same coin! (9/9)

The splendid Taj Mahal exudes romance; Laila-Majnu & Romeo-Juliet made romance eternal and provided it with unforgettable depth. Majnu (meaning mad) is the nick name given to Qais, yes one becomes practically mad & acts like as though the lovers are the only humans left on earth!

Remember Tom Cruise love struck shenanigans on Oprah’s sofa? (Watch it here if you haven’t)One can blame it all on chemicals in the brain… in that state the whole world seems like you’re the proverbial kid in a candy store! My doctor friend (love marriage) would say you can talk, walk, sleep & eat love. Everything is fair in love (& war). Love is blind & Romance is deaf & both are dumb (clearly, Tom Cruise gets speechless!) It’s something thats so very beautiful & tingling!! Love is intangible, just a feeling that cannot be explained, nor can you make someone else understand or experience through your experience. It is like the scent of musk which cannot be hidden: it’s beyond control & will express itself somehow or the other. The beauty of Love is that it is an unplanned natural process & no one has control over it. It is almost always instantaneous, a random act that cannot be bought or sold like a commodity or force someone to fall in love. There is no age bar for Love/Romance & it goes hand in hand. However, in a human relationship there is no Romance without Love but there can be Love without Romance.

Then the question is what is Love or Romance? Do we have the chicken and egg? Is it the same in totality? I am not sure if Love & Romance are two different things or the same… guess it’s a mindset & varies from circumstances to circumstance & time to time & persons to person. However, all said & done I guess they are interchangeable faces of the same coin! It’s an emotional attachment or involvement between two people. It results in a chemical process triggering the chemicals in your brain to kick in & you feel an emotional high, exhilaration, passion, & elation. Like my colleague put it, “Romance is the expressive & pleasurable feeling from an emotional attachment towards another person associated with Love”

Then is it limited to human beings alone? In general Romance is the name given by us humans for expressing the Love between two sexes. Yet the word is rampantly used in varies forms… Only individual perception differs. It is there all around us from a small bug to the greater beings… for those who want to see & feel, the air is filled with Roooooomance………. in anything you like a beautiful flower, misty morning, gleaming dew drop on the grass, muddy smell from the first shower, a nice fragrance, full moon, the fresh air of the mountain, sound of the ocean, birds, country, etc., etc., which really recharges anyone. So again it comes back to the chemical factor: all that we have to do is open our eyes & ears to see/hear it. That’s why the Romance is in the air… murmuring the sweet nothing.. just look up & smell it… gather it…pull it down.. and bag it! One of colleagues scream there is no such thing as love and romance. Any one says there is I will hit them!!

In an era where the divorces are increasing in an alarming rate a couple could get few tips from certain reptiles… why reptiles.. Well we are not very different from them: they shed their skin like we do. Come-on everybody fill your life with Roorooomance not with neigbour’s partner but with your own. Romance & courtship is the most important thing… it makes the Love strong & bonding… & you will feel good about yourself. Up until 80s, a majority of people had arranged marriages, some even meeting for the first time on the wedding day!! Does that mean love-romance was absent from their life? Love can be gradual too & changing into Romance is a choice, an art where you are the artist. Paint it red, blue whatever your favourite shade is. By the way upto 80s the percentage of happily lived ever after was indeed higher!! Common getup & rekindle it in 2014. Don’t wait for the snakes to knock on your door. It’s the tool which spells the beginning of happily lived ever after!!

I would like to conclude my blog for the YEAR 2013 which saw too much destruction in too many ways with this most beautiful romantic picture… (This picture was supposed to be the concluding part of my coffee series… but 2 more is still pending, but I had to share it!). I found this picture posted a couple of years ago by an unknown source on the kodava.org site… What timing & presence of mind to click such an amazing picture…

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WOW (positively) in case you are wondering what is the red & green spread on the ground? Well its fresh coffee beans of course… don’t worry the beans were not contaminated… both of them were so caught up with each other… & normally they don’t harm you unless they smell danger from you… don’t you think COFFEE is kind of romantic… I find the flowers romantic & the snakes find the beans romantic… (We are cousins!!) what about you? At least have a coffee on me… try full bodied Nespresso Indriya which is the blend of the marriage between Arabica with a touch of Robusta Coffees which probably came from the same yard, the bed of Romance of Mr. & Mrs. Snake!

A big thank you for all of you for reading my blog & encouraging me to write…… I have expressed my opinion on love & romance, but it differs from person to person. I would love to have your comments & thoughts on this.

Wish all my Readers a Very, Very Happy NEW YEAR….. A snaky Romance & a big god bless you… lots of Love… be romantic & get lost in the Love/Romance… high time to recharge and rekindle and bring back the sparkle. This year for the second time in my married life, I will be celebrating my New Year over Skype with my husband even that is kind of romantic… he will sit there blowing fish kisses.. waiting for each other to close the Skype… hum if we can feel it why not you?