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India Insight Out

Photo by Susan Hague Long-tailed langurs look like they would like to hotwire and drive this Jeep at Bhagira Nature Reserve in Central India.

Photo by Susan Hague
Long-tailed langurs look like they would like to hotwire and drive this Jeep at Bhagira Nature Reserve in Central India.

By Susan Hague

Monkeys. They look cute and smart, but they are also mischievous and unpredictable.  They populate India, both village and city, and Hanuman, the monkey god, has  temples where he is revered and fed.  They are the main reason I added the rabies vaccination series to the roster of immunizations that Fulbright either required or strongly advised that you take before travelling to South Central Asia.  Immunizations for overseas travel is Western medicine’s version of deep acupuncture, and I felt like a pin cushion after getting shots for yellow fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis A and B, the flu,  and the usual DPT booster.  I resisted getting the rabies series of three shots spaced two weeks apart because of the cost in time and money.  Then I thought about a monkey dropping down on me from the trees, biting me and then disappearing back into the trees, and ponied up the $840 for the rabies shots (Blue Cross does not cover immunizations for overseas travel).

So the monkeys are legion, and in Goa, they wreak havoc in monsoon season on the clay tile roofs of the old Portuguese bungalows.  The rain softens the old clay tiles, and when the monkeys leap onto them, they crack or get moved out of place, making the roof leak.

Another thing monkeys like to do is snatch whatever is in your hands and take off into the trees with it.  One of my colleagues at Goa Institute of Management said she was eating a banana, and a long-tailed langur grabbed it from her.  Another had her shiny silver-shot camera taken away by a langur, never to be returned.  And at the South Central Asia Fulbright conference, I overheard colleagues complaining of how monkeys chewed and shredded their clothes they had put out on the line to dry.

I tried to take a picture of a long-tailed langur, and it let loose a stream of urine to discourage me.  I dodged it and took the pictures anyway, but monkeys will throw their feces at you and try to hit you with their urine.  It’s one of the ways they let you know how they feel.

When my friend and I were on safari at Bhagira Nature Reserve in India, we stayed in the middle of the nature reserve in cabins. Langurs smelled the mangoes we had left inside while we were out on safari, and tried to break into our place.  When we came back home that evening, the smell of stink hit me before I could get to the door.  Unable to gain entry, langurs had peed and pooed on our porch to express their anger.  “Monkeys!” my friend exclaimed.

 

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