Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
The concepts of mythology was always one that could not explain itself. For, ideas like dragons and demons (and flying chariots) were always written off by the modern world as imaginary and unreal. Yet slowly, scientific discovery caught up with the real world. And found fossils of dinosaurs.
The ‘mythological’ dragon had been found!!
And so, my knowledge that was already scanty, was declared false and needed corrections!
On top of the list of interesting creatures that survived whatever killed the dinos is the Komodo dragon found only on Komodo island in Flores region of Indonesia.
KDs are super-large reptiles that are predatory. They pretend to be sluggish and lie waiting for prey but within a flash they move with lightning speed and bite their prey. And their strategy of choice is biological warfare, as they inject lethal bacteria into the prey through their saliva. This unusual weapon is no match for the unsuspecting deer or human! KDs can eat up a human – bones & skin and everything in between- in a single meal! Further, these creatures can smell blood from a distance of 6 miles. So we were repeatedly told that menstruating women or people with open wounds were not allowed on the island!
Last month, chance took me to their forested island.
All islands in the Indonesian archipelago are breathtaking and the ocean is dotted with stunning land chains formed by volcanoes.
A ride on the boat was followed by a long walk through the jungle to the watering hole of deer and other animals.
The accompanying park rangers gave us strict instructions on the behavior expected of us in the presence of the beasts to whom the land belonged.
And so after trudging in the humid heat for awhile we reached the clearing and saw a bunch of the living relics from the past.
On my daily walks in Singapore, I come across large 1 – 1.5 m long monitor lizards all the time so these creatures, though much larger, looked familiar.
But that feeling of familiarity was born out of a visual similarity and ignorance of their capabilities.
For, one can never confuse this creature whose jaw-hold can break a human leg into two with the benign monitor who always runs away from humans instead of towards them.
There were about 6 dragons in the area. One of the males did lunge at us … but the park ranger shooed him away with his large stick and saved us from joining the dragon for lunch.
It all seemed pretty movie-like. Raised on adventure films and save-the-world-from-attackers type of shows that are served on TV these days, there was a latent assumption in the crowd that everyone would be saved in the end, and all would be well. None of us I ‘felt’ the real threat of the dangerous situation.
The silence of the jungle, the lack of dramatic mission-impossible type of music made it difficult to remember that we were in the presence of deadly animals. Had this been a tiger pack or a lion pack we would have all been far more worried. But then we have hardly fed our imagination with stories of Komodo Dragons … This lack of prior build up deprived us of an enhanced real life experience! Twisted logic right? But the mind is a strange thing!!
Only after getting back from the island did I read about the various attacks on humans – some on clueless tourists who were prone to making mistakes and inviting trouble – and others on the locals of the village.
The most dramatic attack story was one of a diving group that was shipwrecked and landed on the island. They were attacked by a pack of dragons. After fending off the dragons for 2 days they were finally found and rescued.
And so the full impact of the kiss of a Komodo dragon was delivered only through my computer screen – while looking at my photos and reading about their attacks!