I’d been following up on the sound of the troupe crashing up the hill along their aerial highway, and up through the mango tree across my roof – camera loaded, ready to go. I missed them all, of course. They were at full stretch, leaping and running almost faster than my naked eye could catch up with them. A little despondent, I turned to leave the balcony, when, out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed something in the old tree just the other side of the fence. Snap. Two tails. Two monkeys, then.
Yes, it was! I wondered whether I could get closer, and be less exposed, if I went to the window on the landing. The lighting was bad – into the dense shade of the old Ficus, with glary copper-tinged afternoon light behind – but the tails kept giving away their positions, the whole troupe seemed to be there. I took the risk – and shot, unremarked, for half an hour or so.
There he was, young Hanuman – the centre of his family’s attention – as mother, aunts, cousins, and uncles congregated on the apartment-like branches. It was siesta time. Barely any chatter. Everyone had a turn at being groomed, braced against each other or with legs propped up on branches – Hanuman sprawled on his tummy, four legs trailing around the branch as though it was mummy. After the grooming, those who couldn’t find a fork to wedge themselves into, turned and sat back to back with their grooming partner – a smart way for a nap, I suppose. A couple of monkeys had brought along a ripe banana, or a mango. Every so often an animal would change position, climb higher up, or join another group – but they seemed to prefer being close to each other – in groups of three or four.
When I downloaded the photos, they even were worse than I feared – so I didn’t post them, thinking I’d catch our friends next time with my other camera, when it came back from repairs.
Sad to report, yesterday my neighbour chopped down the old tree. The monkeys have lost one of their siesta spots – and are now missing a vital link in their aerial highway across the hillside. And these are the best photographs I will ever get of the Hanuman Troupe taking siesta.