every day is the year of the rat

Its the dark side of the Indian dream for those who do not live in the youthful promise of freshly minted millionaires and the Bollywood ideal of the ideal Indian and his possessions, taking in a cricket match in fresh pressed linen. But this other Mumbai is a nightmare. Tens of millions of rats that threaten to bring back the Black Plague or Bubonic plague. Although the rat is not particulalrly venerated in India, it is still home to a Hindu temple erected in homage to the rat goddess Karni Mata where 20,000 rats live in comfort. The holy animals are called kabbas. Its a very strange take on reincarnation where a matriarch’s tribespeople from the fourteenth-century would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan. But until that messianic moment arrives…

It is after midnight, and Sheikh is after the rats. He listens for them. He tries to catch their red eyes in the sweep of his flashlight. Some rat killers say they can smell them in the dark. Sheikh, 23, is a night rat killer, one of 44 employed by the city of Mumbai to wage its long, losing war against vermin….The competition for rat catcher jobs in Mumbai is stiff. Only men aged 18 to 30 need apply. They must be able to lift a 50 kilogram (110 pound) sack and run a few kilometres (miles). They must demonstrate their ability to catch and kill a rat in the dark within ten minutes. Each rat catcher must kill 30 rats a night, six nights a week. If he does not make the quota, he does not get paid.
Arun Bamne of the city’s insecticide department, which oversees the rat-catching, says people badly need jobs. The last time the city recruited, he said, over 4,000 people, some with university degrees, applied for 33 rat catcher positions.Read More:http://www.680news.com/news/world/article/132009–mumbai-s-night-rat-killers-toil-on-the-dark-side-of-india-s-rising-prosperity

---The trick is to catch the rat's eye and shine a flashlight in its face. The rodent freezes like a deer in headlights. Thwack! If perfectly aimed, a single blow can kill a rat. But most do not surrender meekly. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! And so it goes until the rat lies windmilling its legs and expires in a final, furious shudder.--- click image for more..

aaa aaaHenry Mayhew (1851):The rat-catcher’s dress is usually a velveteen jacket, strong corduroy trowsers, and laced boots. Round his shoulder he wears an oil-skin belt, on which are painted the figures of huge rats, with
fierce-looking eyes and formidable whiskers. His hat is usually glazed and sometimes painted after the manner of his belt. Occasionally — and in the country far more than in town — he carries in his hand an iron cage in which are ferrets, while two or three crop-eared rough terriers dog his footsteps.Sometimes a tamed rat runs about his shoulders and arms, or nestles in his bosom or in the large pockets of his coat. When a rat-catcher is thus accompanied, there is generally a strong aromatic odour about him, far from agreeable; this is owing to his clothes being rubbed with oil of thyme and oil of aniseed, mixed together….

---In 1851 Henry Mayhew published London Labour and the London Poor, a ground-breaking examination of the condition and lives of London's poor. Mayhew carried out interviews of the people he came across and in volume III he wrote of the lives of the 'Street-Folk'. One of these was Jack Black, professional rat catcher to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Not only did Black destroy the vermin, but he supplied the demand for live rats for use in ratting competitions held in many taverns where terriers fought live rats while their masters bet on their prowess at killing rats.... click image for more

…This composition is said to be so attractive to the sense of the rats (when used by a man who understands its due ap- portionment and proper application) that the vermin have left their holes and crawled to the master of the powerful spell. I heard of one man (not a rat- catcher professionally) who had in this way tamed a rat so effectually that the animal would eat out of his mouth, crawl upon his shoulder to be fed, and then “smuggle into his bosom” (the words of my informant) “and sleep there for hours.” The rat-catchers have many wonderful stories of the sagacity of the rat, and though in reciting their own feats, these men may not be the most trust- worthy of narrators, any work on natural history will avouch that rats are sagacious, may be trained to be very docile, and are naturally animals of great resources in all straits and difficulties. Read More:http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2 id=MayLond.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public∂=296&division=div2 aa

Robert Peluce. click image for more...


For Menacherry, 35, director of the production house Filament Pictures, the rat killers are a reflection of the city. “This is a story of the survival instinct of the city, the need to go out and earn a living,” says this former journalist, who has been working on the documentary for eight months….

---When he caught any unusually coloured rats, he bred them, to establish new colour varieties. He would sell his home-bred domesticated coloured rats as pets, mainly, as Black observed, "to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages". Beatrix Potter is believed to have been one of his customers, and she dedicated the book Samuel Whiskers to her rat of the same name. The more sophisticated ladies of court kept their rats in dainty gilded cages, and even Queen Victoria herself kept a rat or two. It was in this way that domesticated—or fancy—rats were established.--- click image for more

…The Rat Race is based on research and paper clippings about the BMC’s rat killers. From shooting during Ganpati Visarjan in blinding rain to the crew getting arrested, the film is a fascinating work in progress. “Some of these rat killers hav

worship the mushak (rat) during the day, but at night they go out and kill them,” she says, adding that many of them face opposition from society for their work. Read More:http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_film-made-on-mumbai-s-night-rat-killers-to-face-the-jury-in-cannes_1362606 aa

---Ancient Central Asian Rat God–VN print–mouse wedding The Kalighat pilgrim paintings of the 19th c in Calcutta also featured rats, musk-rats, jackals, raja animals. --- click image for more

Read More:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0628_040628_tvrats.html

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