A few clues from a bike ride today. Yes, my trusty ten-speed bike from well over 20 years ago, is here. The thin tires, the pink and grey paint job, and the gear levers on the supporting bars mark it as very non-modern. But it is in great shape. I rode out with Julia, remembering all my commutes to work in Chicago . . and then looked at my hands, expecting to see the disintegrating rubber smearing my palms. But no. The deterioration of a year or two in Bundi does not even happen in a decade or two in Virginia. Amazing.
And then, later on the ride, zipping down PAVED ROADS (another clue), back on what used to be a one-lane road to the water reservoir through woods and is now a winding hilly unmarked pavement passing monstrous new mansions, we came across a snake in the road. At first I did not even find this remarkable. Because I OFTEN find snakes in the road in Bundi. Dead ones. The preferred method of snake encounter in Bundi is to kill and then throw on the road surface. So I often see dead snakes as I bike to the hospital or to visit. Sometimes I slow down to look better. No responsible citizen would allow a live snake to carry on through their own home area, because snakes are potentially deadly. This time, the snake was a good size, maybe two-fingers thick and at least 3 feet long, jet black on the back and whitish belly tapering into spots on the flanks. So I stopped, right by it, to look more closely, thinking that I should learn some American species. Only then did I see that this snake was NOT DEAD. No one had killed it and thrown it on the road, it was slowly writhing its way across the pavement, little forked tongue flicking out to sense its way, turning its head towards me as the curves of its body rippled. I backed up, wishing for a handy hoe or panga, then wondering if that was considered a good deed here or an anti-environmental faux pas. It was not the snake that jarred me, it was the fact that it had not been killed that shocked me.
We're not in Kansas anymore.