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Guess Whose Aunty Stole a Giant Manioca Root?

Foreign?  What’s foreign to me is part of someone else’s everyday life.   Yet somehow everything foreign is photogenic and when we’re away from home we snap at everything we see, gobbling up manifestations of different cultures and customs, incomprehensible languages and writing symbols, foreign food – and drinks –  for sure, and music and dance, even politics and religion.

Like Angeline, I was a bit stumped by this week’s WP Photo Challenge.  Everything outside on the streets where I live could be considered “foreign”.  Almost my entire photo library is of things foreign, starting with the file “1972 – Abroad!”.  But a peculiarly Sri Lankan piece of serendipity occurred after breakfast, when I went to brush my teeth.

As always I glanced out the bathroom window – the storm will be early today;  look at the sky.  But what’s that?  It’s one of young Hanuman’s aunties … no, it’s two of Hanuman’s aunties – and look – two new babies!   And just look at the size of that manioca root she’s stolen!  And here comes another fellow – another piece of root firmly in his hand.

In all, I think I counted eight monkeys on my neighbour’s garage roof.  After the first mother ate her fill, she handed her prize over to the second, before bounding away via the coconut tree just outside the bathroom window.  There were no fights or squabbles, very little jockeying for position;  obviously there’s a pecking order, and by and large they waited their turn patiently.  Unfortunately I didn’t see subsequent hand-overs – I broke the sequence, sneaking out to the balcony to catch mother number two just as she landed on the coconut frond …

It was the longest monkey shoot I’ve managed, and I’m sorry there are so many pictures in the gallery, but I hope you’ll enjoy watching my simian visitors as much as I did.  To them, we’re foreign, and they pay as little attention to us as they dare.

If you’re not sick and tired of monkeys, the category The Hanuman Troupe will lead you to posts of my earlier sightings.

Pop over to this week’s challenge for more “foreign” entries.

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83 thoughts on “Guess Whose Aunty Stole a Giant Manioca Root?

    • The final shot is an absolute prize, Marianne – I’ve been trying to capture landings on that tree for years … and with a tiny baby in tow – it’s a winner!

      Go for a drive, think about it – something unexpected will present itself I’m sure – something beautiful, and foreign. :)

    • My mother didn’t like monkeys, and she’d have said they were ugly, which always made me so mad – some people are beautiful to some and not to others … The monkeys are certainly cute as, and definitely foreign, as you say Viv!

  1. That baby is so tiny… So adorable! Last week we had monkeys travelling in the local bus. The big one sat on the roof, and the little one, which was terribly scared, kept hiding and holding on to the ‘owner’s’ leg… Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good picture, even though the little one was so close to me… He kept his tiny hand on my knee, while trying to look for the bigger monkey…

    • I love that story, Kasturika! In some cities we’re accustomed to seeing people with their dogs on the bus or ferry, but I’m smiling to imagine the monkeys coming on the bus with their owner! Poor baby – must have been terrified!

      I don’t know whether it was just the sun in its eyes, but the ‘first’ mother’s baby didn’t even seem to have its eyes open. Extraordinary. I’ve never seen one so young, let alone capture it!

  2. Your simian neighbours dare to pay scant attention to you, and yet they are well aware of your proximity. I’d be very surprised if this doesn’t get you Freshly Pressed, again. The photos and your interpretation is very impressive :)

    • A lottery win twice in two weeks Ella? Last week was the first win in over 50 years – i think it’d be pushing my luck a bit much to think it’d happen again so soon! But thank you dear for the compliment – I’ll treasure it. :)

    • The landing upstairs – which I made into my study – has become my all day room – and my friends are the reason why. From here I first hear the telltale rustles they’re in the trees – and where – and if they’re moving on or staying around … The trick is to get the camera armed and ready to shoot before turning into a Bushman tracker and creeping up slowly enough not to scare them off.

      I’m just laughing, because I sometimes see them in the cinnamon tree when I’m in the spare bathroom … there’s no help for it, I just have to sit and watch whatever it is they’re up to :)

  3. That’s truly fascinating and brings a sensation of hot warm air to me in a very chilly Scotland. Thank you. I think the tiling effect arrangement of the gallery really serves this photos well too.

    • The new tiling effect looks good in the blog, doesn’t it? I’m concerned though that people don’t click it into full-screen display mode – but hey, I don’t suppose I should worry about that!

      So glad we wafted some warm air into your Scottish Saturday morning – hope it stayed and kept the room warm all day :)

      • I’m afraid the cold is very determined today, getting us all ready for the change of the clocks tonight which always heralds the real start of the long dark days of winter….heyho!

        I think you just have to relax and leave it to the reader; some will click through and others will simply admire the arrangement and the multiplicity of shots and think how clever you are!

        • You can see what a control freak I am, right – I want my readers to see what I see when they come to ‘my’ space! But you’re right, good you reminded me :)

          Admirable you don’t abandoned ‘home’ altogether for the southern city at this time of year – burrr!

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    • It seems as though they’re a gift from the universe!

      They’ve used the roof of my house and adjoining trees as part of their superhighway for years, but it’s only since June that they’ve begun to hang out in the trees around me. Whether that’s seasonal, or that they’ve become accustomed to our non-threatening presence at last, I don’t know. I do find it extraordinary that the dogs don’t bark at them, but they don’t, so perhaps the animals have figured us out :)

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    • I live on the outskirts of Colombo, Deepa, on a ridge that used to be cinnamon plantations. All our houses are still surrounded by lots of old fruit trees and rice paddies dot every low-lying patch of ground.

      I have a friend who lives further around the ridge, a couple of kilometres away, and there’s a small troupe there – but I really don’t know how many wild troupes there are around me. I’ve never heard any territorial disputes, though ‘my’ male swings through booming his proprietary rights to land (and females, presumably), every morning.

      In the main we co-exist – though one of my neighbours (I don’t know which) is letting off firecrackers or a bee bee gun to frighten them away from his bananas or mangoes.

      In the five months since I managed my first ‘capture’ we’ve had four babies, and there seem to be quite a lot of juveniles, but I’ve not been able to count them, nor the number of adults, though I think maybe as many as ten.

      They don’t always visit – or pass through – every day, even though the male comes through daily. But if i don’t have a two or three, at least, playing on the roof of my neighbour’s garage, or in the shade of the cinnamon tree above my garage a couple of times a week I’m both worried and lonely. They’re so much fun to watch, even if their games are too boisterous and fast for me to photograph most of the time.

        • I spend more time upstairs where I’m close to the action if they do stop by than I probably should! But beside the window wouldn’t work – they can sense when I’m there and just keep going. The only times I’ve been able to capture them is when I sneak up on them, camera armed and ready to shoot. Somehow they’re spooked by the sound of the camera turning on and if they hear that, they’ll have disappeared before I’ve even raised the camera to my eye!

  6. You know I can never get enough of the Hanuman troupe :-)
    The first baby does seem like a new born! And the last image is so precious :-) We have invaded their habitat everywhere haven’t we? We are certainly the foreigners.

    • I know I can’t get enough of them, Madhu (especially knowing my time with them is on the stopwatch now), so I’m really thrilled you – and hopefully others – are enjoying them too.

      I’m sure you’re right – that first baby must be a newborn – so different to Hanuman and his cousin a few months ago, and in comparison to this ‘second’ baby – who’s also younger than Hanuman and his cousin were when I first met them.

      I’m thrilled about the last shot. In a way I’ll be content if I never get a better one, though there are a couple of captures I’m still striving for. Sometimes four or five of them sit on the edge of the roof overlooking my garage, their tails hanging down below the gutters – I’d love one of that, and yes, I’d give a lot to get some shots of them playing. Oh, to see them playing is just pure joy – for all of us :)

  7. Lol! I think about the only foreign about them to me is that your monkeys have tails and mine don’t :D

    Don’t you think it is so difficult to think of something ‘foreign’ when you have lived elsewhere for years?

  8. Amazing! You must have had such fun taking these. I find it almost disturbing how human like the baby’s head looks when it is partially hidden. I had to do a double take in the first shot that shows it.

  9. First of all, thanks for the mention! And second of all….these are fabulous photos. You have had such a wonderful opportunity to be a part of all of this, for the years you’ve been the foreigner in the Hanuman world.

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    • Yes, they’re sometimes domesticated, Lynne. In the old house we had an ‘escapee’ who came to visit sometimes. Poor thing was lonely, and bored, I think.

      Other people report them being nuisances – coming into the home and steeling food.

      Here, they luckily have enough food in their range area that they have no need to take the risk of house invasions to survive – though they do steal from our trees, ruthlessly – and these manioca roots – I don’t know where they’re stealing them from! One of my neighbours is letting off fireworks or something to try to shoo them away, but mostly people accept their right to exist.

      I could hear her crunching into the root, as clear as day from their perch on on my neighbour’s garage, about 30 feet away, across a courtyard at the back of the house. From this vantage point it seems I’m just far enough away they don’t bolt immediately they see me at the window, the way they do when they’re on my garage roof, when they’re about six feet away from the spare room windows.

      • Would seem pretty strange to me, from Canada, to look out my window and see these fellows – chickadees and nuthatches, that’s what we watched today :) – although we do get a wild turkey parade once in awhile, and the song of the howling coyotes, deer grazing in the field … that’s about it. Watching the antics of these fellows could be very entrtaining I should think.

  11. What incredible pictures. Like others, I love that last shot . In the group of 4 vertical shots I look at the adult peering up over the roof while the large one is holding her baby and eating the root and know he must be staring at you. How fortunate to capture this all in your back yard.

  12. I risk sounding trite, banal, naive, foolish, liberal, choose your adjective,… But I wish as humans we could reach the point where nothing is “foreign” and we recognize all the world and its diversity is our common home.

    • Now wouldn’t that be loverley :)

      There are times, and this seems of those times, when I feel we’re further away from the ideal than ever, when the ‘other’ is more foreign than ever, more looked at askance than ever … Dear me, very pessimistic these days!

    • We hear those stories about the macaques, not so much of the langurs, though I’m sure they must steal from homes in places where their habitat has been invaded by humans to the extent they can’t graze for survival.

      Here they’re very wild, and in two years I’ve only seen them close to the house on two occasions.

      Where were you (before France)? Thanks for stopping by. I had a little browse around your blog, but you don’t have an ‘about’ page (or a ‘like’ button!) so I wasn’t sure – beyond South Africa somewhere :)

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    • I think there must be close on 20 of them now, Nicole – though I’ve never seen then all together, so It’s hard to say, especially as the only way I can distinguish them is by relative size. The only one with a telltale mark is one with a long red scar down the inside of her leg – but it’s hard to see unless the leg is exposed …

      I wonder whether I’ll be able to find a cottage in the bush that I can afford to rent so I might have the opportunity for some marsupial visitors when I go ‘home’ – wouldn’t that be cool?

      • Wow, 20 of them!!!! Do they always run away when you come out? Are they afraid of you? What kinds of noises do they make? I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a whole troupe of monkeys in my backyard. Pretty amazing! Yes, you will have to find a place in the bush to continue having your time in nature. Knowing you, I’m sure you’ll find some place grand! :)

        • They’re wild, Nicole and yes, if they see me move, they’ll move faster – if they see me standing still, and they’re over on my neighbour’s roof they may stay a while, but the slightest movement will send them bounding off!

          I’ve never seen the whole troupe hanging out together. The most I counted was on my second sighting, before my neighbour cut down the old tree next door – there were probably ten or fifteen that day.

          My place (my roof, actually, though they do like my two mango trees, and the cinnamon) is part of their foraging route down to the forest and swamp at the bottom of the hill – I’ve no idea where they go to sleep, or wait out a storm – and they don’t pass through here every day, but most days – say five days out of seven.

          Haha – grand I can do without, but character-ful in an interesting (interest over beauty every day) location would be an absolute joy!

  15. How lucky you are to have such an amazing extension of your human family to watch. You must think of them as family. Those pics are so sharp and clear. How many photos did you take? Thank goodness for digital…

    • With this troupe, in this setting, I couldn’t agree more. I wonder how I’d feel about them if I were a farmer and they came through and devoured my mango crops, or broke the growing tips off new coconut trees, or smashed holes in my roof, landing en-masse from the trees above …

      I know it sounds weird, but I try to imagine what it must be like for the poor people who are in direct competition with the monkeys for survival. It’s an even more intractable problem with the elephants and I marvel that the elies are still – in the main – revered in this culture.

  16. That last shot is a real stunner with the fixed and very protective gaze of mother and infant!

    (BTW, doesn’t “foreign” seem such an outdated concept where anything on the web is concerned?)

    • Outdated, certainly, and a little insular I felt.

      I’m so proud of that last shot Patti – I’ve been trying to capture a monkey on that frond for months but they’re always half a bound ahead of me and all I usually get is a retreating tail, or one hind leg!

  17. A wonderful post… and the context that we are ‘foreign’ to their environment. Nice to see good detail, and love the last picture. The near bald-headed baby, but with plenty of chin ruff/ fluff. Aunties sure did get a fabulous prize in that manioca root, it’s huge.

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