On my first trip to India, back in 1996, I was totally overwhelmed by the strangeness of everything. It was my first time abroad, and during that initial week in Bombay, my encounter with a cobra charmer was one of the quieter moments. I met him down on the beach, and he tried to convince me to put the snake over my shoulders while I handed him my camera to take a picture. He demonstrated the safety of this activity by whacking his cobra repeatedly in the head with the back of his hand to make it strike, which it did harmlessly because it was defanged. I declined his offer, and then he noticed that my fly was down, and he and his friends spent some time pointing and laughing at me.
Now this noble trade in defanged snakery may be coming to an end. According to the BBC, the government is cracking down on snake charmers. In Orissa, the endangered species (charmers, not snakes) has responded by attempting to release snakes into the state assembly.
Ah, Indian politics!