Typical Indian Supermarket list:

  1. Shampoo Bottel (Oily hair)
  2. Detergant Soap – 5 No.s
  3. 2 Phenyl – Black
  4. 5 liter oil can (Sunflowar)
  5. ½ Kilo Besan
  6. 1 Packit Aata
  7. Pencil box for Pinky and Sonu
  8. Garam Masala – 1 Pack
  9. 2 Curd Packits
  10. 3 in 1 Agarbathi
  11. 1 Kolgate
  12. 1 Jilkara Packit
  13. Pitambar Packit
  14. Jadu – 2

……Spectacled Cobra!

Not a game of ‘Find the odd one out,’ the above illustration. Rather, the gist of a day’s proceedings in the past week. Finding that difficult to buy? Read on, to know about a most unusual Sssssshoping experience.

It was around 12:10 PM on Tuesday, the 12th of September, 17 when Sardar Adil (aka Adil Bhai), our member got a call from the manager of a popular supermarket in Shivarampally, near Aaramgarh, Hyderabad. The call was regarding a snake rescue – the snake being spotted just some minutes before in the supermarket.

Adil Bhai, who was engaged in a parallel rescue when he heard from the manager of the super market, intimated the helpline number to the caller, and soon got engrossed in coaxing a Red Sand Boa out of a pipe, little knowing that the wheels of his next rescue had already started gathering momentum. In the meantime, as per bhai’s direction, the supermarket’s manager got in touch with the helpline, from where his number was in turn shared with another of our members who resides nearby the shop – Arun Kumar.

Equipped with the caller’s number and after getting in touch with him for directions, Arun was at the rescue site in less than half an hour (our readiness and promptness in bridging such man vs wild conflicts, irrespective of the time of the day is our collective trademark and pride :)).

Upon reaching the supermarket, Arun was escorted by the waiting staff into the premise with the following account:

The snake was spotted around 12:00 PM by one of the staff on the roof of the building (Our best bet about how it got there, given the present circumstances, being that it might have made its way to the ceiling from one of the connecting pipes).

By the time the management could be alerted, the snake which was probably strong on a scent and was therefore slithering in a relatively fast pace, slipped and took close to a 22 feet fall to the ground floor. This unexpected turn of events caused quite a stir among the customers and the super market’s management alike, and the latter acting very responsibly, immediately asked for the customers to evacuate the place while they explored control measures.

Having closed the shop and retained only a few staff for help, they had reached out to us, working very progressively and systematically. One of the staff had even managed to click a picture of the hassled reptile when it hit the ground, before slithering off under one of the many racks flanking the interiors, generously laden with all kinds of knick knacks.

This picture was shared with Arun and he instantly identified it as being from among the big 4 venomous snakes of India – none other than the widely popular Spectacled Cobra. Boasting of having 7,800+ items – from groceries, electronic items, to stationery, and an equally enormous fleet to match the supermarket’s varied articles on sale, were the staff mighty nonplussed upon having a Spectacled Cobra join their crew!

Given that the place is from among the biggest ‘One-stop-shop’ in town, translates to ‘Many many ceiling-to-floor racks stacked with items, thereby providing infinite possibilities for the Cobra to take refuge in.’ Arun easily counted around 22 of such huge racks, these in turn giving way to several rows and columns of shelves. Not to mention, the array of goods shelved to bursting in them!

Phew! A seemingly impossible task alright!

A seasoned rescuer, Arun soon realized that this called for team effort, rather than being an individually manageable feat.

While snakes have no time sense and can therefore prolong their stay in a hide out indefinitely, Arun realized that time was of the essence for the management, who had shut shop so early in the day. He immediately set to work by first reaching out to the helpline for back up and within 15 minutes, Adil bhai joined him – complete with the rescue gear of a handling stick and a bag.

Within Adil bhai’s arriving at the scene and being briefed about the situation, Arun had managed to search through 2 of the big racks by using his handling stick to carefully nudge the products lining the shelves. Once Adil bhai had joined him, the duo set out to carry this operation among all the nearby racks to where the snake was last spotted.

Considering that it was a stressed venomous snake, our team had to tread carefully amidst the paraphernalia and take extra precautionary measures in their every move. Seconding only the herculean task of ‘Searching for a needle in a haystack,’ searching for snake in a supermarket requires some quick thinking, apart from constantly being on high alert. In line, our very resourceful team hit upon the strategy of ‘Trail tracking’, in other words – Coating the floor with some fine substance to track the snake’s movement if it slithers on the floor through the impression it would leave behind.

The shop management was only all too willing to oblige and soon, Arun got busy with sprinkling chalk powder on the floor while Adil bhai, along with 5 of the staff was on vigil in case the snake were to slither out in the meantime.

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To cut short an otherwise tedious list of methods employed, the snake was finally spotted near one of the stationery racks. A close shave moment and another quarter of an hour’s peak-a-boo instances later, the 3 ½ foot reptile was finally caught, and safely bagged. The entire operation – from the time of the call to the bagging of the snake, took a good 7+ hours, and our members, drained out, no doubt, but satisfied at having finally gained the upper hand in the situation exited the shop – amidst many thanks and cheer. The shop’s management, although having lost out on some good business for the day, needless to say, was very grateful and appreciative of all the efforts taken, and for the tips shared by our team to avoid such future encounters.

In all, one hell of a rescue yes, nevertheless, our team managed to add another feather (Or should we say fang?) to our already brimming cap!