Friday, August 26, 2011

Red alert in Tara's 'Asharya'

An Update: 30 June 2012.
It hasn't rained much  so far and it is already the last day of June! I remember Gaythri telling us that rodents get active during Ganapathi festival. Logical as Lord Ganesha is everywhere and so would be his vehicle. A more scientific explantion would be that the low lying areas and drains would flood and turn inhospitable!

It rained a little a couple of days ago. So I took a review of our preparedness to block the expected visitors! The front balcony is now secure with a steel mesh. And the side balcony also has mesh door! We wanted mesh for the bedroom balcony and decided no, it cost too much! All we needed to do was to keep the door closed.

It rained again  in the evening and sure enough I saw a movement in our bedroom as I watched wimbledon that evening. Peeped below the sideboard and the TV table and  did not see anything and went back to watching tennis. When I told Tara, she said she had seen a black butterfly or a moth flying around low and thought that must be it! We were sure of our secure fortress! 

Just in case I borrowed a rat trap from downstairs. Appa had told me that the bread should be warmed a little, the rats would smell it and follow the smell! I toasted a piece of bread, and it was too crisp and broke when I tried to fix it in the trap. So I just stuck a piece of fresh bread and hoped for the best. Checked in the morning, no rat in the trap! 

Then last night I saw a little mouse trying to come into the bedroom, it scurried back as soon as it caught my eye. I thought of Rhea, she would have loved to see the little fellow. Then after a while the mouse came in again and I caught its movement from the corner of my eye. It went behind a cardboard box. No idea what the box was doing there! I went across and instinctively kicked the box against the wall and hoped I had given the rat a scare.  It was still wimbledon time and I decided to deal with the rat menace the next day. In any case Tara was in Kumbakonam for the Sunaad program. So there was no need for immediate action!

Next morning on the way out, I left a message for the maid that there could be a rat behind the box. As soon as I returned the maid reported that she found a small dead mouse behind the box.  Surprisingly I did not feel elated that the menacing mouse was dead, actually I felt sad! Then again, as I think about it, there must be a mother mouse somewhere in the apatment, it is not possible for the little mouse to come all by itself! Now that is worrying and soon we will be busy with 'Operation mouse!' 

I could not imagine that the sighting of a rodent or rodents taking shelter with us (Ashraya is the name of our house!)  would be such a traumatic event. Friend Chandramouli solicitously advised 'Get a cat and you are free'. He also thought it fit to remind me how rodents have been around for a long time and are adept in dealing with humans. 'Remember Tom and Jerry' he said and added 'Jerry always got better of Tom!'  (Just read in TOI that we could have evolved from  rodents which existed 160 million years ago!)

Seeking alternatives I remembered that Rhea on sighting rats in the kids playground(!), was very thrilled and actually wanted to hold them. She loves animals!  I knew that people keep hamsters as pets in the US and saw on the net that one could buy special rodents as pets in India. Disappointing, as I was actually looking  for an agency who caught rodents and trained them as pets.

While we were thinking of the ways to deal with it, Tara set some rules which would have made a special security task force proud.

   Plug the gaps and place a rat-trap!                                                                                     
No open doors!
                                                                        Of any kind!
The next day we were in for a shock. 
    The rat was sighted again snuggled nicely in the shoe rack!    
                                     So we decided to put a mesh in the front balcony!                          
There was more to come the next day! We saw this in our guest bath room! If it was our bathroom, we would have probably moved to a hotel! The only way the rat could have come in was through the machine drain pipe, connected to the main drain which goes all the way down. A mystery!
The same afternoon the maid saw a rat come down the opening for the exhaust fan high up on the wall.
We got it fixed the next day by putting a mesh across the exhaust fan! That was easy! Out of curiosity I went out to see the other side of the exhaust and gasped!
I just could not believe it, but the maid was very sure that it was the route!
In which case we need to cover all the windows with a steel mesh.
 Breaching netlon screen is child's play for a rat! So we have steel mesh in the kitchen. Ramesh, here on a visit, was kind enough to tell us that the rats could gnaw through a steel mesh if cornered!
We now had an answer to the mystery of holes in our 'chinese' chair. We thought it was due to the dry weather.
The following day was intriguing. We decided to go aggressive (I was not totally happy!) and placed chocolate mixed rat poison in the kitchen and also placed a trap in front of the washing machine and the poison below. Next morning the poison in the kitchen was not touched but the one below the WM was missing! But no rat in the trap! No idea what happened to the rat which ate the poisoned choc.

Tara in any case closed the kitchen  the next day. Made sense!  I just read today, 26/8, that a girl was killed as she unknowingly ate a jalebi meant for rats. Her mother had mixed it with rat poison. Terrible news!

27/8- We watched the success of Team Anna on TV in the night and later Tara walked out to make a final check before retiring for the day. I suppose it was pure instinct! She heard a metallic noise and walked into the kitchen and saw our Visitor scurrying down and hide under the Fridge. I chased it out and it scampered towards the main door and suddenly I lost sight of it. Luckily Tara located it behind the howda and finally I chased it out of the main door and saw it get behind the screen in the front veranda. I hoped that it would go down the window from there. In any case I placed the rat trap hoping to see our friend in it the next day.

I guess it was always hiding in some part of the living room or was sneaking in whenever it had an opportunity. Actually I had this strange feeling the last few days and smelt rat in the living room! I guess it emanated a kind of vibration, which I received, as from one mammal to another!

 My last thought for the night was if one Rat could give us so much trouble: 'How can one Lokpal take care of the millions of corrupt rats? Thankfully Anna says it is just the beginning and he plans to continue his crusade! I guess it is time to be optimistic!' 

But surprisingly the event has already affected our psyche. I look around as soon as I enter any room. Open the shoe rack door very gingerly and peep in and jump if I accidentally brush against a soft surface! Probably it is due to the million years of interaction between us two mammals.

 28/8- Next morning I was thrilled to see the rat trap door shut but sadly no rat in it. Reason was that the trap door was not big enough for the rat!
29/8 Anyway as soon as the screen door is in place, the carpenter reported sick, we hope to have covered practically all the (loop)holes! 

Also discovered this website and wonder whether it will work. It is an Ultrasonic rat and rodent repellent. Will talk to them! Hope these guys  will also work on a model which will drive away all the 'corrupt' human rats?
And as we add up the cost for all the effort needed to keep the rats out,  I feel it would have been cheaper to go Rhea's way and keep them as pets, except we have not found a rat trainer as yet!


BSIK Murthy said...

Dear Nidhi,

Rodents are very intelligent. They are always ahead of you in bypassing the obstacles.

We were in the first floor flat in CME. We had rodent menace, with rats comming down the water and sanitary pipes, had a hell of time catching them. Rat trap was the only alternative. Fortunately, we moved to a ground floor quarters.

We had the same problem in Karkala.

Wish you all the best in your efforts to stop rat menace.
Regards, Kittu.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nidhi Uncle,
I was rolling with laughter when I read this....
"if one Rat could give us so much trouble: 'How can one Lokpal take care of the millions of corrupt rats?"

Steve jobs is out of job & he is a "iconic" inventor who also developed the mouse. See if he can develop something that you can point to & press right button, choose delete option :-) _0o
- mohan

ramasamy said...

We had a rat in Vidya's bedroom upstairs which chewed the door ( there were shaving of hard wood ). Rat probably wanted to escape but the door was shut.Bought a cheap trap and after a day or two of disappointment we caught him.
Samething happened at our ourside open air kitchen. I use a piece of banana as a bait. Other options are some rat poison pellets. Rats eat them and get very thirsty. Apparently, they die out of thirst!! We also get a GUM ( very popular ) This is 100% guaranteed method to catch these rascals. You apply on a cardboard or piece of wood. Smell attracts rats and they get stuck. Inhuman way to kill but the choice is yours. ( I will bring this for you on my next trip ) Ultra sounds: not sure of success. Indian rats too clever and they may start dancing to the tunes. // Prasad

Srihari said...

Our rat got into one of the speaker of the music system and could not get out.
We of course smelt the dead fellow after a few days.
Smelling speaker had to go to Sony service to get it removed and rewired.
Service people did the job on top speed obviously keen to get the smelly stuff out of the shop asap.

srinidhi said...

Nice to read the comments!
@Hari- Interesting anectode. Hope they did not overcharge because of this.
@Mohan- Good idea about asking Steve Job to invent something. Wish Jayanthi had taken a picture when you rolled with laughter.
@ Prasad- Thanks for all the gyan. That will be a sight to see. Rats dancing to the ultrasound tunes!
@ Kittu- You are comments about rats being ahead of us not very encouraging.

Gayathri said...

This is such an entertaining piece, truly! So here's my story. You may remember it. Am sure Tara will! While in the Ramkhamhaeng house, a rat would come in only a couple of days in the year - exactly coincided with Ganesh Chaturthi. So with Ganesh Chaturthi round the corner, remove the rat traps and keep pieces of kadabu outside the house. And then there shall be peace!!!!

Narsimha said...

Hi, I used to have the same problem. The rats were coming through the kitchen exhaust fan in spite of having covered it with mesh. But there was a small gap thro' which the rat was making entry. Now, I have removed the fan for good and covered the hole with close fitting mesh. Also, use "ratoban" or such ratkillers, they are very effective. All the best. Narasimha

N L Sriram said...

Symbolism of mouse:
"In the representation of Shri Vinayaka, we always find a mouse sitting amidst the tasty ready made food, but if we observe closely, we find that the mouse is looking up at Lord and does not touch anything without His command.
A solitary mouse can bring great disaster. Similarly, the mouse within each of us is the power of desire and can eat away a mountain of merit in us.
Once the mind says, 'I want it' one may even compromise with the values one holds.
The wise person has so perfectly mastered the power of desire that the mind is completely held in obedience. When we listen well, think, discriminate, and store the wisdom, we become the master and our desires."

N L Sriram said...

I'm sure that they pre-date Mahabharata, so let's give them due respect!

N L Sriram said...

Peanut butter is supposed to be a great bait, with its unique aroma.

There was absolutely no way we could prevent rats from getting in at the Malleshwaram house, with its old tile (later zinc sheets) roof and the ventilators, windows and doors which never sealed completely, so it was a fairly peaceful co-existence as far we were concerned and we could not understand the anxiety of the visitors and guests who took fright at a mere glimpse of them and needed to be escorted to the Ugrana and bathroom at night! Appa would forever be tinkering with the traps, trying to adjust them so that they would close at the lightest pressure, but we would invariably find the bait (mostly warmed up copra) gone in the morning, but no mouse. The days we did catch one, it was a feast day for the cat which would come around to check. If the tail was poking out of the trap, us kids would also tie a long string to it, release the mouse and wait for a crow to swoop down and grab it. I doubt that the present day kids will ever have such experiences!!

Chandra Mouli said...

The real rodents( heggana) are the neta, the babu, the lala, the jhola and the dada; their myriad ilk are the goondas; their alliance has brought this nation into a state of extinction. Witness the monsoon( failure); my vegetable vendor said in tamil: what else can we expect when the country is packed up with evil( he said: Periya Eli :) !!


srinidhi said...

You are right!
Time for an Avatara Purusha?

Chandra Mouli said...

In the last century alone, there were atleast 4 considered as " Avataras"; Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharishi, Arobindo(?), Shirdi Baba, Satya Saibaba, + assorted holy men.
Who is the one for this century ?
When the " Good " keep silent while the " evil" spread their tentacles, the balance tilts towards destruction; and that is the message of Vyasa;

Have a good time at Rishikesh.