Guess Who Came to Eat Custard Apples?

Last time I spoke to you about my simian visitors, I was concerned they’d blackballed my place for stealing Mrs. Hanuman’s soul.

We’ve been having afternoon storms, and I think my strategic location on one of their escape routes has made it imperative for them to overlook my misdemeanour.   You see, up here on my airy platform, I am very aware of the telltale signs of an approaching storm – the change in the quality of the light, and a freshening of the breeze,  the alarm calls of the fat little brown sparrows – but it is the Hanuman Troupe which sounds the definitive alarm.  All of a sudden, there will be one, then a couple, then, it seems, the entire troupe will stream up from the marshland to the north, bounding and leaping from tree to tree, across my neighbour’s fence, crashing through the leaves of the mango outside my bedroom.  Sounding like a mini-thunderstorm themselves, they tear across the roof, heading south, away from the storm, the rain and the lightening – frightening stuff for outdoor dwellers.

By the end of the week, signs were that we were once again part of their Long Paddock.  Mr. Hanuman senior has been loudly expressing ownership of the cinnamon tree, and various members of his family are loitering in the vacant land beside my house, waiting for a signal that they too, can gather those tiny mustardy coloured berries that grow from little candelabra on its upper branches.  Every once in a while, the youngsters will challenge Papa, to which the old guy replies with mighty whoops, charging after the impudent scamps, who prance along the crest of the roof, leap to the coconut tree near the fence, up into the tall branches of the trees next door, and round, and round they go, till the old guy tires of the chase, and settles once again to forage.

Today, after one particularly boisterous game of rounders, I looked out the kitchen door to see three teenagers, and a preschooler, sitting on the fence near the coconut tree.  Just sitting, their long tails hanging down behind them.  Then, becoming aware of my silent eyes, one by one they rose, and stalked to the end, disappearing behind my neighbour’s garage.  A while later I was sure someone was in the mango tree, but when I rose to check, whoosh!  Onto the roof and far away.  Or so I thought.

Creeping, with loaded camera, to the small window in my bathroom, I saw a young aunt, I think, or a cousin, wrestling with a preteen on the garage roof.  Someone was lurking under the custard apple tree, and on the other side,  three preschoolers were making their way toward them, carefully climbing down from the mango, and along the fence toward the back.

I missed every shot of the wrestling match, and the preteen, but did, eventually catch the aunt, sitting, deciding what to do next.  A long grey tail gave away the hiding place of whoever was under the custard apple, but discovering who, it appeared, would be a waiting game.  So I turned my camera toward the approaching preschoolers, who immediately scampered out of sight, except for one young chap, crouching as still as a mouse, behind an overhanging beam.  By this stage I’d moved from the seclusion of the bathroom and was standing on the balcony, trying to look like a doorpost.  While I was moving, she must have turned to watch me, for there she was, even her eyes like stone, amidst the branches of the custard apple.  And then, of course, she and the bub, the aunt and the preteens dematerialised – over at the edge of the garage, and into the dense branches beyond.

Sad to report, Custard Apple Season has come and gone as far as we humans are concerned!

62 thoughts on “Guess Who Came to Eat Custard Apples?

  1. When I saw the title of your post in my in-box just now, I couldn’t wait to open this post. I knew who I was going to be seeing. Fascinating. I think I would be spending a lot of time on that balcony.Great photos!!

    • Angeline, dear, your message has just appeared – I don’t know where it’s been … I’m overjoyed you knew immediately who you were going to see stealing custard apples! You can be sure I spend way too much time lurking on balconies and the like – but my desk is quite strategically placed for monkey watch – with the opportunity to catch movement in four different directions … 🙂

  2. They are cheeky creatures, aren’t they/ We have to keep our doors and windows closed when the troupe comes around, or they’ll be inside in a jiffy and steal anything they can lay their hands on. Every morning, we hear them pounding across our roof, as we lie in bed. 😉

    • This group is pretty wild, adinparadise, and very timid. These are the first pictures I’ve managed in eighteen months living here. Now, if they were the little red macaques, we’d have had to move out because the dogs would have ben hysterical from their trying to invade the kitchens;0

  3. Brilliant! … and to actually get ANY photos of members of the troupe : the icing on the cake!
    just a note: clicking on the link : “for stealing Mrs. Hanuman’s soul” only leads to a WordPress sign in box and then an error message… just wanted to let you know.

    I LOVE custard apples… I’m not at all surprised you’ve been “forgiven” for stealing Mrs. H’s soul if you”ve got such yummy treats in your garden to make up for it!!!

    • Ha ha ha – maybe you’re right, it was custard apples rather than my direct route to safety that led to forgiveness!
      PS Thanks for telling me about the link. I’ll try to fix it right away:)

  4. Pingback: Guess Who’s Eating Solids Now? « The Wanderlust Gene

  5. That is so cool! Over here, I get excited where there are birds at the feeders and birdbaths – can you imagine if I came upon a monkey?! Great shots (and story to go with!)

    • Hey Zen, it’s petty exciting for me too, believe me! I love that they’re so wild, so I’m pretty chuffed with my little collection f photos – it’s only taken 18 months to capture them on two occasions!

    • She certainly is! I loved the way she was hiding there, and really, except for the tail, I couldn’t have been certain it was her until she turned around while my back was turned. I’m quite happy with the little one peering out from behind the overhang too! Thanks Madhu:)

  6. Great post – I felt like I was there watching their antics with you. It’s great the local wildlife feel comfortable enough, and as you say, these guys are timid, to patake of the custard apples 🙂

    • Well, isn’t she the intrepid explorer?

      But yes, it is exciting, Jo and I’m soooo glad to at last be able to get some pictures to go with the memories I’m gathering of my time with the Hanuman Troupe.

  7. Great photos!! This is so lovely and it must be exciting to watch (and try to capture) their antics! I have a feeling you will be getting more and more interesting photos from now on!

    • I’m hopeful, Petchary, but not so sure they’ll present themselves quite so openly again for a while. With no custard left on the tree that overhangs my garden, and a near neighbour shooting off firecrackers to shoo them away from some prized ripening at his place, they’ve made off again, despite an early start!

    • Ha! Yes, I’d have to say they beet geese – except perhaps Canada geese, with their trans-globel migrations.

      The Hanuman Troupe seem to be hyperactive and quasi-human and I find them fascinating, now that they’re a tiny bit accustomed to me watching and don’t dematerialise the second I look in their direction – which is what they did for the first year or so:)

  8. I think I would be camping out on the balcony to try to catch all the comings and goings. I’m afraid I wouldn’t get much a else done.

    • I certainly seem to have one eye peeled all the time. Luckily I’ve positioned my desk on the landing with a view of the mango tree to my immediate right, and the balcony a little forward and further along! This morning for instance, I caught a new manoeuvre: lands in the mango tree (not sure from what springboard), changes grip slightly, four legged spring to the wall of the balcony, slight swivel before launching itself, like a skydiver, across my back garden to the branches of the custard apple, thence neighbour’s garage roof and off into the thick trees beyond. All achieved in less than four seconds, and only the faintest sound, like a sudden gust of wind, on landing among the leaves.

  9. A fabulous post. I’m green with envy for all your fruit trees. And Oh for fresh cinnamon again! Bark or leaves or berries, all add that je ne sais quoi to the most mundane of recipes.

    • Viv – tell more about the berries! I’ve never heard of them being used. The monkeys seem to adore them. I’m sorry the blighters finished off the custard apples before we even got a look in – I was saving one for you:)

    • I do spend quite a lot of time sneaking behind windows and doors, trying to see, without being seen by them. Sometimes I’m successful, but so far, they still seem to feel my presence and disappear, more often than not!

  10. Your world sounds like a wondrous place.

    “Creeping, with loaded camera, to the small window in my bathroom, I saw a young aunt, I think, or a cousin, wrestling with a preteen on the garage roof.” This imagery had cackling aloud. I could see it all, unfolding, and you, with your trusty camera determined to capture it.

    • A wondrous place? It is Cara – what can I say? It’s paradise!

      But I tell you what else is wondrous: the sleuthing and peeping from behind small dark windows, or standing exposed on the balcony, still as an antelope, trying to look like a doorframe … Watching them, trying to get closer to observe unedited activities, and to capture a moment or two on camera seems to turn me into the essence of me – what a wondrous thing that is:)

  11. Was very interested to read about ‘your’ monkeys. I researched a bit further on Google on aspects of Hanuman as well as grey languars and got to an article on non-aggressive behaviour v. aggressive. Thank you for the journey, as grappling this end as another two baboons are earmarked to be put down due human induced ‘aggression’.

    • Sometimes I wish some cosmic hand would eradicate us and leave the other poor animals to continue their evolutionary journeys without our interference:(

      Glad you enjoyed meeting young Hanuman and his family. I think they might make regular appearances, if I continue to capture usable shots:)

    • Slow, but a great way to travel. There are a couple of swish new cars on the hill country train, and they’ve been relaying track all over the country, so the lines are good. Booking ahead can be a benefit on popular routes, but really, just grab a ticket and jump on – always someone to talk to and help pass the time:)

      • Excellent! Thank you. I plan to take the train form Colombo to Kandy, but my airline cancelled my flight and now the earliest I could fly in is on the same day that I have hotel reservations in Kandy for Perahera. Do you think I’ll be able to get train tickets for the same day at such a busy/popular time?

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