“Monkeys May Attack Without Warning”
Today we ventured out on the other end of Vrindavan’s parikrama, the dusty road that circles the city.
We walked one hour to Pagal Baba temple, a palace-like structure visible from the rooftop of MVT, the ashram where we are staying. The journey to Pagal Baba was strenuous. Though the road is more passable than yesterday’s time on the parikrama, this also means that there is more traffic (e.g., bicycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, cars, and tractors). More traffic means more calls of “Radhe!” and “Haribol!” as we stand out dramatically as the only Westerners on the route.
We chose to rest once we arrived at the temple, enjoying the peaceful sunset at the Pagal Baba’s entrance. We noticed a man with a pair (mother and child) of grey and white monkeys (gray langurs) much like the two we had seen earlier at MVT walking the grounds with their owner. Different from the run-of-the-mill thief monkeys that plague Vrindavan, we wondered if this breed was used for keeping the riffraff at bay. (Editor’s note: Indeed, this breed is used to help alleviate Vrindavan’s monkey problem.)
Their owner sensed our intrigue–and he tied them to a pillar near the bench we were occupying. We watched their play and inconspicuously took photos of the baby and mother.
Not long after the last photo was snapped, Mama Monkey jumped behind me, grabbed the back of my hair and put her feet on my back. She began to groom me, and Fred feared that 1.) she would steal my hair pins, and 2.) she would hurt me (in that order). Fearless husband that he is, he put his arm out in a “shoo!” gesture. Mama didn’t appreciate said gesture and was quite offended that her grooming (of me) had been interrupted. She bared her white teeth at Fred, flailed her arms, and jumped on his head. He pushed her away, she lept to the ground and showed her teeth again–this time with a special threat of doing more damage.
By this time we were the (Western) spectacle of the entire establishment. Indians were yelling at us, “Come inside!” and we ran to the steps of the temple (with our shoes on–oops!). Embarrassed and frazzled, we slowly backed our way out of the temple grounds and back onto the busy street. That’s right, we didn’t even get inside the Pagal Baba temple.
Given the monkey fiasco, we decided to forgo the chaotic walk back to MVT and got a rickshaw ride with a young man who had six fingers on his right hand. That’s right, folks. Six. Fingers. Welcome to India!
To see all the pictures we took during today’s adventure (including a few more monkeys, a cow and a camel), click here.