Friday, December 13, 2013

Pamboo Hunter

My job in Chennai brings me into contact with many interesting people. So far, many of them--the most memorable--are students who want to study in the United States. I meet lots of people travelling to the United States for work. A lot of them work for companies like Cisco, Intel, and ADM. Every once in awhile, I meet someone who does not fit nicely into any neat category.

Yesterday I met a small, old man. He had dark skin that was two parts weathered by the sun and three parts tinted by his Indian heritage. He had deep wrinkles on his forehead, denting the red and white tilaka powder mark smeared there, and a frizzy thatch of bone-white hair.

When I asked him in Tamil who he was going to visit in the United States he gave me a passionate and enthusiastic response little of which I understood. One word did stand out to me, though, "pamboo" (snake), and I wasn't sure at that time if he meant it literally or figuratively. Then, he showed me a letter from the University of Florida Department of Zoology. The man was a member of the Irula tribe, a small tribe world famous for their prowess in catching snakes. He had been invited to wrangle alien pythons from the Everglades.

Only three weeks in and I had already met my first bonafide Indian snake-charmer!

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