November 25, 2007

Hey, Hey We’re The Monkeys

Sunrise Santa Cruz is back after a weekend of family fun, gluten free stuffing and enough cranberry sauce to make a pilgrim blush. I hope it was a somewhat enjoyable weekend for all and that everyone had a moment where they felt thankful for something. Like yesterday, when I felt grateful that I was able to turn off my satellite TV and not watch the pathetic Eli Manning and the New York Giants lose to the Minnesota Vikings.
On the photo front today we are heading down to our familiar haunts of Lighthouse Point and Steamer Lane. The first four shots are from yesterday’s sunrise before the sky clouded up and the sun disappeared quicker than Donny Rumsfeld from the Bush’s inner circle. The last two shots are from Saturday’s sunrise, so it’s your weekend daily double. I don’t want to say the sand has been a bit chilly in the morning but my toes warmed up once I entered the 50 something degree Pacific Ocean water. It’s the story of my life, just another case of cold feet.

Here’s some news from India I found interesting that didn’t involve the Taj Mahal, sacred cows or those incredibly helpful call centers. The city of New Delhi has a soaring wild monkey population. The authorities weren’t doing much about it till the deputy mayor fell to his death from his terrace as he tried to fend off a gang of the animals. The official was reading his Sunday morning paper in late October when four monkeys appeared. As he brandished a stick to scare them away, he lost his balance and fell before finishing the Sunday crossword puzzle.

This monkey phenomenon is a side effect of India’s rapid urbanization. As New Delhi expands, with a half a million residents moving in every year, the green areas around the capital, which for centuries have been the monkey’s habitat, grow smaller. To cope with this encroachment, many monkey’s settle in the city center in luxury townhouses, affordable condos and rent controlled apartments.

Particularly irritating for the authorities is the monkey’s attachment to some of the capital’s most prestigious monuments. Hundreds of monkeys swing along the walls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the stately sandstone presidential palace. At dusk, mother monkeys bathe their infants in the ceremonial fountains, males fight noisily on the clipped lawns while the kids play human in the middle.

Politicians with residences in the area have resorted to hiring private monkey catchers who use a larger, dark-faced monkey, the langur, to scare away the smaller wild ones. Recently the monkeys have been entering some of New Delhi’s leading hospitals. Who even knew they could afford health insurance? According to lawyer Meera Bhatia, “They attack patients who are being rolled inside the hospital, pull out IV tubes and scamper off to drink the fluids.” And they always leave without paying their bills.

The mayor, Aarti Mehri, plans to hire a total of 100 monkey catchers that will work in 14 teams. The monkey pitchers will report later in the spring. She estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 monkeys need to be caught. Part of the difficulty lies in people’s ambivalence towards these monkeys as they are treated as descendants of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, and most Indians believe that killing them is unacceptable. On Tuesday and Saturdays, their followers risk being fined by feeding the monkeys. As the mayor says, “We have a serious problem because of our religious ways. But they do attack. In the past three years, there have been 2,000 cases of monkey bite in Delhi.” Could this be another case of monkey see, monkey do?

Wildlife advocates say the growing tension between man and monkey arises not so much from the animals as from humans. Just as monkeys are losing their natural homes to developers, so, too, are the tigers of Rajasthan and the elephants of Assam. According to conservationist Ranjit Talway. “We are continuing the deforestation so fast that all kinds of wildlife are finding themselves suddenly homeless. That’s why we are seeing more attacks by tigers, leopards, monkeys, elephants and little baby chipmunks.”

Final word on this subject goes to Sonys Ghosh, an animal rights campaigner advising the government on the monkey removal. She says the residents should try and live in harmony with the monkeys. “The only way is to ignore them. Never look a monkey in the eye, never raise your eyebrows at one; it’s interpreted as a challenge.” That’s why I always wear sunglasses when I hang out with wild monkeys. She conceded that the abundance of monkeys was an unwelcome reminder that New Delhi was still far from its goal of transforming itself into a world-class city. “These people in the new residential areas, these newly rich, have different sensibilities. They want to pretend they are living in New York.” Suddenly, everybody’s a Yankee fan.

So that’s your New Delhi update. Personally, I prefer Sherman’s Deli with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Love that fatty corn beef and the chocolate rugalah. There was a beautiful sunset that I caught down at Natural Bridges last night. Having it in the can and ready to go for Wednesday’s blog reminds me of the words of Bill Murray, who played Carl, the wacky grounds keeper in golfing classic “Caddyshack.” After caddying a round for the Dalai Lama, who was a big hitter, Carl said, ‘Hey, Lama, how about a little something for you know, the effort. And he says, There won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consiousness. So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.” Enjoy the light and we’ll catch you for the dusk experience.

1 Comment »

  1. I see that all that food didn’t dull your sense of humor but i have to wonder if cold feet is really the story of your life. It seems like lately that a more appropriate theme would be that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, if you’re a really a connoisseur of both you owe it to yourself to make regular visits to Great post today!

    Comment by Brad — November 26, 2007 @ 3:55 pm

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