We had a Monkey Lockdown early one morning last week at the Residency … well … er … less dramatically … really … I heard monkeys clamoring on my roof early in the morning, rolled over and fell back to sleep … and in this vague sleep-state before one finally decides to get out of bed, I heard some clamoring outside that I later found out was Olga and Navneet doing some vigorous “Shoo … Shoo-ing” It was about 6 am.
Half-hour later, I exit my second floor doorway and … there he is: the Alpha of the troop, just sitting on my banister, contemplating his next move of trickery. Two steps closer and we could have groomed each other … but we’re just not at that stage, yet. I freeze in a ready position. He turns his head. We lock eyes and I let out a battle cry that would have made Vin Diesel’s eyebrows turn white. Alpha jumps up on the wall and scurries up to the roof of the building, out of sight. I think, “Ha. Monkey. I’m ready for you this time. That’s right: use those opposable thumbs to scamper away … At least I can carry a stick … Who has the prefrontal cortex NOW.” Self satisfied I walk to the kitchen to brew coffee and eat some bananas.
Monkeys are so deeply imbedded in the Indian culture that Hinduism has made it into a God. His name is Hanuman, and he has done all sorts of heroic, magical deeds, including leading monkey armies across the sea to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita, his master’s wife, and picking up and moving whole mountains. (a skill I admire). Hanuman is the servant of Rama, who is an incarnation of Vishnu, who is one God of the Hindu Trinity and the preserver of the Universe. Quite a lineage. (FYI: Shiva is another member of the Trinity and he is the Destroyer/Protector; and Brahma is the third and the Creator).