As if there are not enough real-life oddballs, freaks and other anthropomorphous aberrations on this planet, humankind often talks up undiscovered neo-mythical creatures still lurking in high mountains, deep waters and far-out space. Recently, the Indian army put a Bigfoot in its mouth by claiming that its “mountaineering expedition team has sited (sic) mysterious footprints of mythical beast Yeti”, also known as the “abominable snowman”. How one concludes it is abominable or obnoxious is questionable since no one has met the creature, which could well be cuddlesome but shy if it really exists.
Also in the eye-roll category is a claim by Oxford’s Oriental Institute instructor Dr Young-hae Chi that aliens are breeding with humans to produce a new hybrid. Not much has been heard lately about Nessie (the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti’s chimerical big sister), or the Ogopogo (a Canadian sea monster), but stand by for updates on these and other creatures such as the Mokele-mbembe (the African Nessie) and Chupacabra, the Latino goat-sucker that thrives on the blood of livestock. Apparently, the gratuitous excesses of our own species are not sufficiently alarming so we have to invent others.
The term for the subculture that aims to prove the existence of such entities is cryptozoology, and the creatures and critters it engenders are called cryptids. Because the subculture forsakes scientific methods and relies more on inauthentic sightings, dodgy pictures, rumour and hyperbole, the academic world considers it a pseudoscience. Much of its output is derived from mythology and folklore, built both on vivid imagination of sighters and gullibility of its recipients. Decades after they were first reported, there is yet no authentication of even a single such creature. Still, tales of sightings and existence of cryptids continue to beguile even such a (reputedly) professional army as India’s, although it must have stung to be schooled by its Nepalese counterparts that footprints in the snows of time the Indian military recorded were nothing more than bear tracks.
Considering Nepal has been merrily (and cleverly) milking the abominable snowman industry by issuing licences for Yeti spotting and hunting, it was cruel of them to so publicly needle New Delhi, the rebuke doubtless accompanied by the unspoken taunt of it being a case of “So near Yeti so far”. Hopefully, the mighty Indian army has learnt a salutary lesson from its Himalayan blunder and will not yak back with “You ain’t seen nothing … Yeti”. One should draw a line between guarding one’s borders and going on a fishing – or Yeti – expedition.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.