The other night I was deep into my new favourite activity – namely checking out rats from window – when we heard a wedding band playing from the slum. And here we were, at midnight, my friend and I, getting down to the slum to check out a wedding! I agreed to go on the one condition that if we saw a rat we would turn back. And I am not talking about mice, but these gigantic rats (called Bandicoot rats) that measure 30-40 cms with an equally long tail and weigh up to 1.5 kilos*! The only thing that equals my fascination for me is the disgust and fright they inspire…
I even put on my rain boots (just in case) but thought they might feel insulted – a foreigner wandering at night in the slum with big blue plastic boots because she is disgusted (they wouldn't think my disgust would be of the vermine)…
I grabbed my friends’ arm and could not look at anything but my feet – expecting one of these GMO modified animals to come out from nowhere at any point of time. My friend did not understand and thought I was scared of people! Well, if I was scared of people I would have never agreed to stroll in the narrow alleys in the dark… Coz people slice throats and rats, well, they just behave erratically. Ahem, theoretically at least. Because if you see the Pest Control Site of India, they are “large, aggressive animals that erect their guard hairs on their backs and emit grunts when disturbed. If caged with other bandicoots, it is likely to fight to death within a few hours. […] Like its smaller cousin, it is also a carrier for many diseases [including leptospirosis].”
So no need to tell me non-senses like “it is not the small animal that will eat the big one” or “they won’t do anything to you”!!
You may have heard of these heroes, the “rat killers”? These 44 guys roam around at night, a spear in hand, to put rats on a spit…
Basically each guy will catch their quota of 30 rats per night (hence in total 400 000 rats per year would die like this). And the city will pay them about 8 rupees per rat so 240 rupees (less than 4 euros) per night. The killers put the dead bodies in a bag and get them counted in the morning. Some sampling will be done and checked for diseases by a city laboratory because “Black Death or Bubonic Plague, officially declared as wiped out nearly 30 years ago by the Indian government, still poses a real threat to the country and to Bombay (Mumbai) in particular.