The Telegraph
Saturday , February 9 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Smile please, Mr Spider

- Even though I find the eight-legged creatures extremely creepy, a black-and-yellow one caught my eye because it seemed to hang in the air

The big black-and-yellow spider was just about two feet above his head sitting snug on its web. This friend of mine was standing right there, trying to focus his camera somewhere three or four feet away from it and I couldn’t for my life imagine why my friend was doing that!

My love for travelling alone doesn’t mean I’m averse to travelling in a group, especially if it’s a group of good friends.

I usually try to go on a couple of short trips with some of my old friends from school every year. Last year, we had been to Murshidabad in north Bengal during Holi and Dooars, also in north Bengal, in October.

It was our last day at Dooars and we were at a place called Suntaleykhola in the foothills of the Himalayas, about a couple of hours’ drive from Lataguri, where we were staying.

We had to leave our car at a point and walk about a kilometre-and-a-half to a beautiful hanging bridge over a rocky rivulet.

Right at the beginning of our hike, I noticed this spider that seemed to be hanging right in the air. It had actually built a huge web across two trees that were quite far away.

Even though I find spiders creepy, I stopped to take a picture because it looked remarkable.

The friend in question, Abhinava, was very excited to see this amazing creature. He took quite a few pictures of it and asked me to let him know if I saw any more of them. I’d told him once I saw the one he was now standing directly beneath.

“I think you’re looking the wrong way,” I told him.

“Give me a minute. I have it in my frame,” he said, hardly listening to me.

“The damn spider is right above your head, man,” I said.

“I’m nearly done,” he said, still not listening.

And then I saw it — the thing my friend was shooting with such concentration. Half hidden amidst the leaves of a tree, it was a spider, yes, but probably one-fourth the size of the one that just moved its foot number five in a motion that seemed like it wanted to scratch Abhinava’s head.

(Above) The rocky rivulet under the bridge at Suntaleykhola and (below) the spider that seemed to be hanging in the air

I waited for the guy to finish shooting. When he came back, I pointed at the big one and said: “I was talking about that one.”

His face turned ashen in three seconds.

“Holy cow! Was that thing just above my head all this while I was shooting that tiny little creature over there? Oh my gosh... my heart’s beating at double speed and the hair on my arms is standing up...”

But all the horror was forgotten in about 20 minutes when we reached the hanging bridge.

There’s nothing but the bridge over the river. And it’s beautiful.

The river has so many rocks in the middle of it that you can actually walk across it without wetting your feet. But be super careful, because I cannot guarantee that you will not slip and fall in the water! Another friend, who was with us, did.

We spent nearly an hour sitting on the rocks there and taking in the beautiful nature all around us.