Today a friend posted photos of a troop of monkeys—Do you call them that? Google search and yes, a troop or a tribe!—anyway a friend posted photos of a large troop of monkeys (maybe 7 or 8 of them) climbing around her neighborhood houses. The day before another friend posted pictures of perhaps the same troop of monkeys climbing around her compound. Both in Lazimpat. About 17 years ago I lived in Lazimpat also and yes monkeys were frequent visitors. I could also hear jackals barking. Another Google search… I could hear jackals ‘howling’. At that time I think the Indian Embassy trees stretched pretty much to Raniban. With urbanization I doubt you will hear jackals today. On the other hand, maybe there are jackals but unless you are familiar with the sound they make, they can sound very much like a group of young people having a bit of a drunken party!
Back to the monkeys. While one or two are not unusual to spot at the back of Lazimpat, a troop of seven, eight or nine must surely be extraordinary. Can it be a coincidence that the temples have newly opened for pilgrims after nine long months? Maybe with humans coming back into ‘monkey territory’ the monkeys have decided to reciprocate by moving into more urban settings? It can’t be that they are hungry. Can it? Primatologist please respond. (Yes, I Googled that too) Or maybe they are also simply suffering from Covid-fatigue and searching something new.
We have seen photographs of wildlife reclaiming rivers, forests and even city centers during lockdowns around the world. I have personally have had several visits from a squirrel and a not so lovely visit from a rat! Whereas both were thieves, the squirrel was entertaining. Climbing up on several mornings and inching a bright pink small towel used for cleaning my solar panel ever closer to the edge of the balcony. We played a bit of a game… me, replacing the towel to its place, she pulling it out again. I say she as I am convinced the towel was heading to be part of a squirrel nest. I was sure that no way a tiny squirrel was going to be able to drag something equal to its body weight over the plants and carry it down the wall. But it did! I now am a bit more aware when hanging lightweight clothing out to dry on the veranda.
The other, not so cute or entertaining thief was an average sized rat! Why just take one bite out of something and leave it to move on to the next? I’m sad to say, after a few attempts of catching him humanly it came down to him or me. I won.
I should also mention here that since the beginning of lockdown I formed a daily habit, which I am still doing, of taking my early morning drink on the veranda. Along with my breakfast muesli. It became a daily event that one, always just one, and there were several of them (yes, eventually I came to recognize the differences) in rotation came for breakfast. Crows I am talking about. Always one crow for his/ her muesli. It became quite a thing… still is quite a thing.
I learned during the earthquake time that crows are very intelligent and so I am happy to observe them close up. Those incredibly noisy flashy green parrots that live, it would appear, in the ventilation pipes of the building next door, never drop by. Yes, maybe those bright, young things are too full of themselves to visit. Leaving it to the drab ‘old’ crows! The only thing I was worried about was with a daily crow sitting and eating on my balcony about six inches from me, the neighbors might think I am a witch. Or a bit of an ‘old crow’ myself!