For some reason I’ve been getting a lot of caterpillar association lately. Maybe I am rekindling some caterpillar related relationships from a past life, or maybe it’s just that time of year.
In Mayapur, I saw them everywhere. I thought it was pretty unusual until my friend Jayada Radhika, who lives there, told me that Mayapur has a caterpillar season (along with flood season, hot season and various flower related seasons – oh and my favourite, baby frog season). She said that during that time she can barely walk along the road to her house – it’s literally crawling with them. They’re not the most friendly either. I was minding my own business, chanting a round or something, and I felt a painful chomp on my back. I thought it must’ve been a wasp, until someone cried ‘INCHWORM!’ (the someone must’ve been American).
I kept seeing them in Vrindavan too – even hanging from the ceiling once.
When I repacked my bag before flying in Delhi, I found a stowaway Brijbasi – one inch long. I decided it might be offensive to forcefully remove a resident of Vrindavan from Bharat Bhumi, so I found a juicy looking leaf and left him there. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for his friends, who I discovered, unpacking my bag back in England. I had dried and packed a maha garland from Vrinda Kund, and they had chewed a hole in the bag and proceeded to make a meal of the garland. My brother Mali leapt at the chance to try and hatch them with his new ‘caterpillar home’ he got for Christmas.
After almost two weeks, they’re still alive, and today, they got some friends when Mali’s actual mail order (yes, really) caterpillars arrived. They’re butterflies and I have a feeling the Indian ones are moths – I hope that doesn’t count as different sampradayas in caterpillar world.
(This picture was not staged in any way – honestly. I think this one’s probably English.)