Saturday, March 30, 2013

Monkey Menace

In Varanasi our house is situated near two famous temples. One is Durga temple, which is described in the age old literature “Puran”. The other temple is Sankat Mochan temple. This is the place where Tulsidas wrote “Ram Charit Manas”.  People believe that Shri Hanuman gave him a ‘darshan’ here (rendezvous with Tulsidas).

Beside history and mythology these temples are ruled by macaque monkeys. I never could understand the  logic behind the fact that if  you feed a monkey, you'll be cleansed of your sins and your bad times will go away. These monkeys are eating puree, halaw, besan ke ladoos made of pure ghee (clarified butter) + chana, gur + fresh seasonal fruits. These well fed monkeys have thus increased their population. They are now an  absolute menace for us. We cannot spread our laundry outside for drying. We cannot keep pickles or papad in the sun light. My garden is destroyed and they've even bitten my children. The list is far too long to even bother writing about.

Yesterday I was coming back from an area called Kabirnagar to Durga temple through a narrow lane (called “gully” in Hindi). The lane is barely four feet wide. One side of the lane is an ill maintained public toilet and other side is a personal property with six and half feet high boundary wall. I was walking alone. I saw a young monkey was peeping under the door of one close toilet. Most of the doors have corroded by 5-6 inches from the bottom. I felt pity for the person in the toilet. Suddenly a big male monkey aggressively jumped up the wall. On the other side, 10-12 monkeys were jumping and screaming on the public toilet roof. I was scared. I increased my pace. 2 shopkeepers rushed towards the monkeys with large bamboos. I reached the market. I was breathing fast. The bread shopkeeper offered a plastic stool. I sat down and felt better.

I remember that once Sanju (one of my best friend’s younger brother Dr. Sanjiv Sharma) told us about his experience with these nutty animals. He said -

“When I was doing my MS from Agra medical college I was living in hostel. Our toilets were separate from our residential area. First day morning I was going to toilet with a tin can filled water because most of the time taps were not working. My friends gave me a bamboo stick. I asked them ‘why’ with curiosity. They said  that it would be needed to save the water. I did not understand the use of a stick in the loo. At that moment I push the toilet door something jumped over me and ran away. My tin can toppled down and spilled.
Now I got the answer. I spent the next two years with them. They would enter the toilet from anywhere.”

I now got up from the stool and started walking on the roads of Varanasi. The roads full of idiotic traffic, pot holes, filthy garbage and stupid monkeys. They are always ready to snatch your shopping bag.

I returned home safely. Thank you o’ lord almighty.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The sixth sense of a man's best friend

The Hindus believe that a dog’s howling is a very bad omen. A dog’s senses are much more active than humans. Their smelling ability is used by security department worldwide. Dogs can visualize the paranormal activity. Whether this is true or false, I don’t know but I feel that something is there.

Last year on 13th September my elder brother passed away. I lost the childhood part from my life. There was a stray dog that was attached to his family. Dada (my elder brother) gave it food regularly and pampered it. When his daughters went somewhere it would follow them like a body guard.  The day when he was hospitalized the dog was howling the whole night. After his death it howled for 10 days. Then it stopped coming their house. No one had any logic for this phenomenon.

In the year 1976 I was an 11th standard student. Beside my parents and big brother I had a pet play mate with me. It was a dog named Munmun. Many times my friends asked me “Why does this masculine dog have a feminine name?”  I told them that I wanted to play with girls only and we laughed. The dog did not mind anything because of a feminine name. We were very good friends.

I had a cousin sister at my age. Her name was Shukla. She was very dear to my mother. She had a brain tumour. Those days the survival rate of the brain operation was just 0.05%. My uncle decided that without operation death was certain, so he would take that 0.05% chance. Beside that, the girl’s health was deteriorating day by day. In the month of March Uncle took her to Vellore hospital. This is still situated in South India. For us, March meant exam season. Via land line phone he told us, “Tomorrow morning doctors will do the operation for the tumour.” Next day I and dada went to school. Father went to office but my mother sat down in Puja room (worship place) in front of god and goddess. When I returned home she was still in the Puja room.

At 10’o clock in the night, suddenly Munmun started howling.  My mother shouted at me “Mini! Chup kora oke!!!” (Mini! Make the dog shut up!!!.) and prayed to god “May Shukla be alright.” I grabbed Munmun and settled on my bed. Few moments later, he went to the courtyard and howled. We scolded it but all in vain.

Every day my father called my uncle over the hospital’s telephone and asked about Shukla’s health. She was in coma. Doctors took care her nicely. Uncle said “I hope she will be all right”.

The howling continued for eleven days. We observed that exactly at 10‘o clock it started misbehaving and we scolded it. On the eleventh day it did not howl. My mother said “May we get a good news tomorrow.” Same night at 12:30 Munmun was restless and scratching me. I said Munmun please let me sleep. I grabbed it in my bed. But it escaped an started howling and restlessly walking in and around the courtyard . I tried to grab it, but it react violently. Dada tried to sooth it but it kept reacting violently. We left it there and came back to our bed . It stopped howling but stayed in courtyard. I fell asleep. At 3:30 am, I woke up. My mother was screaming “Shukla... Shukla! Stop… Shukla...” She was breathing fast. This time Munmun was growling aggressively. It was moving around my mother’s bed. I served some water to mother. My father patted her. She said, “Bad dream...  may god bless us all.” Munmun kept behaving in a weird manner. We could not sleep that night.

Next morning Uncle called and gave us the massage “Last night, at 12:30 am the doctor declared her dead.”