Tea with Monkeys

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Every day early morning, after coming from walk, I have a set ritual to follow, on the balcony of our house in Dehradun. Mornings of Dehradun, due to proximity to Himalayas are pleasantly cool, when it is warm and hot in Plains.

On the balcony I go thru a sequence of yoga regime, followed with a cup of hot detox tea, which is a concoction of Green Tea, Lemon Grass, Hibiscus, Ginger, Tulsi, Lemon and Honey. Sipping this tea and reading a newspaper on the balcony is heavenly. Whenever I am away from Dehradun, I miss this morning ritual.

Every day as a routine, a troop of monkeys, come jumping on the massive tree, which we have right in front of our house. After monkeying on it for some time, they take a round of the neighborhood, obviously hunting for food. Their routine is as fixed as mine. Number of monkeys in the troop are 9, five adults and four kids. Kids are as naughty as they could be. Running and jumping playfully. Adult are a serious lot.

Since they are regular visitors, as a general courtesy, I thought of inviting them over for tea, which the head of the troop readily agreed to. Date and time were mutually agreed upon.

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The family of nine came over on the date and time as agreed. Nobody from my family participated and chose to abstain from the event. The family though, helped me in laying the food on the table of the balcony.  Choicest of bananas, peanuts and biscuits were spread. Main door of the house was shut. This is as far as the Indian hospitality goes.

Guests seated and helped themselves with the food. Obviously they did not believe in rituals and formalities. Once the supper was over, we started talking.

I asked the troop leader why they venture so far away from their habitat and what is their story.

Troop leader gave me a very sad and also an annoying look. He said that the onus is on your race. You do not know how to contain yourself and are greedy. You keep on destroying forests, rivers and fountains and keep on constructing. There is no end to it.

You do not realize that you are destroying and compromising on future of your race as well, along with that of ours and our fellow animals. With destruction of forests, rivers are drying up. Mountains are going barren, which is causing more and more landslides and earthquakes. The whole cycle is getting disturbed. Glaciers are melting. With the melting of glaciers, flow of water in rivers is weakening day by day. You will have no water to grow your own food or to drink. Forest fires have become a frequent thing.

With reduction in forests, we are losing our homes, so also our friends like leopards, tigers and elephants. They have no choice but to come to your habitat to look for food. Here, as you now say: man and animal conflict begins.

Today we just look for food outside your house and in the neighborhood. In future who knows, more monkey troops will join us and we will start attacking you and forcefully enter your house. After all, we must have food for us and our family. If it is not available in forests naturally, we will seek from you. So will the elephants, tigers and leopards. Already it has begun.

As one of your famous writer once said ‘You stole our homes; we steal your pastries’.

Being a representative of the human race, I kept my head down, accepting as truth, what was said, and ashamed.

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For my grand children: Manya, Vrinda, Unnati and Sarthak, expecting them to be good human beings.

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