This weekend, I was walking down the street in my neighborhood and I heard a cockerel crow. It was five in the evening and I was amazed to hear this sound in the middle of no where. I scanned the environment and found the most amazing sight: right in the middle of a large tree, were 1 cockerel and 2 hens comfortably perched, looking mighty proud of themselves. I was fascinated and charmed by the level of comfort they possessed in the mega city, rather envious of them. I quickly pulled out my phone and clicked a snap:
Of course, nobody else on the street batted an eye and I was the only one who appeared to be so enamored by the vision above. I mean, who in San Francisco has seen first hand one cockerel and two hens perched on a tree, without a care in the world? Only in Mumbai would you expect to see something like that!
So I thought to myself, things can’t get any more strange, and I continued to make my way to my house, when I noticed a few people scattered around, all eyes gazing in one direction. Following their gaze, I was met by a bunch of monkeys hanging out in the balconies of a building, scoring for food. I noticed one even get into the kitchen of a house, grab some food, and munch on it. Here is evidence of the monkey business that was the focus of entertainment of many a people on a Sunday afternoon:
Apparently, a bunch of monkeys have infested my neighborhood and have made my neighborhood their home since the last 4-5 months, scouring buildings and roof tops in search of food and shelter. Again, I was mesmerized by what I was seeing, smack in the middle of a bustling city. As if seeing cows, bullocks, stray dogs, cats, and rodents, were not enough!
The next day, I made my usual trip to the bazaar for my veggie shopping and happened to look at the tree tops. What do you think I saw? There was a family of monkeys hanging out right above the stall of a vegetable vendor, looking downwards toward the food. I asked the vendor if he was concerned about the monkeys or if he was bothered by them in anyway. He was not. Not in the least bit! Au contraiare! In fact, the vendor took a tiny plastic bag, filled it with sprouted chick peas, and threw a couple of such packets to the monkeys who immediately grabbed them and started devouring the goodies:
I was amazed by the fearlessness and conviction of the vegetable vendor, until I reminded myself that in Hinduism, the monkey is symbolic of the Hindu God, Hanuman. Considered one of the major deities in Hinduism, Hanuman is revered (colloquially) as the “monkey god”, one that plays a major role in the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. Since Hanuman is so ardently worshiped by the Hindus, the vendor feeding the monkeys came as no surprise to me.
However, I was concerned that the feeding of these wild monkeys may make them get habituated to the city life and they would lose their natural and predatory skills of the wild.
So far, as far as I have heard, the municipality has not taken any affirmative action around this monkey business, and I have a feeling that this is the last thing on their mind.
One often hears the slogan, “Incredible India” as a means of marketing and advertising the many splendors of India. But I say, to hell with that! Welcome to “Incredible Mumbai”, a city of milk and honey, cows and monkeys, and many other stupendous sights that promises to take your breath way!