June 27, 2005

the coorgi moorgi returns!

alt title- leechy keen

went on one of those treks that are great to talk about, after you've actually completed 30 hour bus rides, leech attacks and biting cold rain.

yes, it was biting cold in the evening on the windswept slopes near the bramhagiri range. did a quick sweep of the irupu falls. nice, but after a mintute of gazing at gushing water and oohing, i'm usually ready to move on.

coorg was very green and monsoony. the sun rarely peeped out. it felt very familiar, as gaurav put it "almost entirely but not quite unlike mahabaleshwar". but without all the tourists. and with lots of coffee, pepper and arecanut plantations. there was even a sports club in a village we drove through, and i could almost swear it had a squash court. the famed kodava women were absent, and with the way it was raining, who could blame them?

unfortunately, larger forms of wildlife were absent too- we were really close to waynad and saw lots of elephant dung (scat/potty/ poo?) but the animals that were out in full strength were the leeches.

leeches to the left of us
leeches to the right of us
into the valley of death walked the brave six hundred

i shall now launch into a leech-filled post. the slippery lil guys would sneak up ones shoes and stick onto the shin, unbeknown to the shinnee. we werent carrying salt, but a form of perfumed tobacco to get them to loosen their grip and be flicked off. unfortunately, some of the leeches mustve been habitual smokers and were unmoved, even when i made them snort the baccy and rub-a-dubbed it into their skin. a whole lot of the trek was spent examining feet and ankles. my theory that leeches prefer certain blood types could not stand up to the smallest statistical sample and was discarded. my theory (and boast) that i was miraculously leech free came up short when i ended the trek and found huge rusty patches (blood) on my jeans.

(weak stomachs, exeunt stage from left. there's more gore)

some of the fellow trekkers took the whole thing very personally. would mutter "bastards!" in american accents as they threw the lil chaps off and tried to pound them to death. alarmed by their anger, i pointed out that leeches formed a part of the ecosystem and.. shut up because i got the same look the leech had.

it was strange to watch these slim creatures clamber up the shoe, attach itself, commence bloodsucking.. and then swell up mightily and roll off. the fullbellied leeches just lay on their backs, chillin'..

further leech tips from those who know:
wear leech guards
slice off leeches as they suck on you.. the blood apparently gushes out in a pretty fountain.
maharashtrian leech recipe- with sazuk tup (ghee) and all!

read up a bit on leeches in medicine- they were used for bloodletting as a remedy to most ailments from Hippocrates time to the 19th century, but the practise was discontinued when it was found to have small to negative effect on patients. but its now being used post surgery, as leeches thin the blood even after they drop off.

there's maggot therapy as well- to liquefy dead tissue and kill bacteria.

have you hugged a leech today?

(if yes, its probably still attached to your neck. go to a corner and bleed quietly)


Nandan said...

"maharashtrian leech recipe- with sazuk tup (ghee) and all!"
Almost expired trying to gulp down the guffaw, thus saving colleagues from tremendous confusion. Leech-burst type of sound emitted caused some vexation, though.

Orcaella brevirostris said...

apparently after boiling and drying the leeches, they lose their sliminess and shrivel up. when you add the sazuk-tupat- tallela masala, they get plump and reconstituted, like mushrooms in packaged soup.
(this is hearsay. do not try at home. usual disclaimers apply)