Baboons, Bananas and Breakfast

Rishikesh IMG_5762

Day 16 – let the travel circus begin

“There are monkeys everywhere,” Karin announces as we are packing a little before breakfast to prepare for our departure at 10 am. I drop what I’m doing and grab my camera. The monkeys, or baboons, the black faced placid variety in any case, are collecting in a tree a few buildings away from us.

I snap a couple photos. They show as grayish black figures in a grayish green tree. You can see they’re there and their number but nothing noteworthy. Karin tries the same with similar results. We stand on the balcony silently beckoning them to us. We ask politely, without making any promises of food or a cozy bed to nap in, that they come a little closer so we can see their sweet faces. Slowly they begin to oblige. One by one they drop from the tree onto the building beneath it. Some linger there for a while, the babies chase each other. Mom watches. Then out of the corner of my eye I see movement below us. One has taken a different route and is on the ground a few floors down.

Suddenly one comes from next door to share our balcony with us. Our inclination is to dive back into the room, but he seems quite content with his handful of trash. We back away nonetheless, poking our camera lenses and iphones out through a gap in the screen door to capture this marvel of nature we’re not privy to at home. He really doesn’t mind, he’s got some food and if we don’t have anything better to offer, he’s happy with what he’s got. Out of view we hear a thud. Another one has landed just behind the door. Very close to us. As we jump inside and grab the screen door, he is doing the same from the outside. We tug and he releases. With the door closed he is still curious and looking for ways in.

Now we understand the sliding locks at every corner of every screen.

There is a noise above us. A baboon has taken residency on the ledge, in the window, above our door. Just checking the place out. Now there are two. A much smaller baboon joins the ledge-sitter, they snuggle together. The whole family, four in total, has chosen our balcony. As other monkeys try to encroach, papa – the trash eater, who mysteriously now has a pristine banana – bars his teeth and swipes them away.

It’s quite a show and very hard to walk out on, but we have a breakfast date with the rest of our group. We check all our sliding locks, thank them for the photo sitting and entertainment and duck out.

Rishikesh photo (16)In the restaurant we find the remainder of the baboon tribe. Well, not actually in the restaurant. Surrounded by glass on two sides we have a beautiful view of the Ganges most days. Today, just above the breakfast bar a baboon is casually sitting on a railing with his feet pressed against the window – defying us to take his bananas. We do, but with the appropriate amount of guilt. Through every window we have front row seats to high flying baboon antics. Best breakfast by far.

It’s our last morning in Rishikesh. I at once am ready to go and wish I could stay. We have not seen eye to eye, this town and I, but it’s mostly me so I want to stay to make amends. Instead I’ll have to plan to come back.

We have a long day of travel ahead of us. A bus, a plane, a bus, a hotel in New Delhi to drop some things off – we’ll be back here tomororw, a bus, a train, a bus, then Agra for the night. The Taj Mahal is tomorrow, then more travel back to New Delhi, then on to the airport for home. A whirlwind, designed perhaps to keeps us busy so we don’t pine away for the loss of our new family prematurely.

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