The 'Monkey' God

Himachal Pradesh a hill station in the Lower Himalayas

There was one occasion whilst we were in Shimla that initially was frightening but then became amusing as we realised what had happened. Shimla, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, is a hill station in the Lower Himalayas and was, during the British occupation and for Indian Royalty (and still is) a summer destination away from the heat (35 to 44 C) of the lowlands of India. At 6,000 feet above sea level the temperature drops around ten degrees at 28 to 30 C, making for a far more comfortable climate to do many activities. We have been there a good number of times but the occasion I write of is probable the most memorable, well for Teresa it was anyway!

We were visiting a temple to Hanuman, The Monkey God.

Shimia Map Area

He was (we thought!) a poor man
and needed some extra income.

Whilst walking round, Teresa was hit by a tremendous thud on her back. Luckily Teresa did not fall or topple over but was very obviously shocked and shaken. At the same instant her sunglasses were whipped off her face, with great skill and speed. A large monkey had stolen her sunglasses and run off with them. On her back were two large dusty footprints of the monkey showing his precision of impact!

The speed and skill in which the Money achieved ‘the steal’ amazed us! Chasing the monkey was to no avail and we both thought the sunglasses were lost forever to the Money. That was until a local old man we had seen a few minutes earlier holding a baby monkey, caring for it while mother was elsewhere, came over to us asking for ten rupees for a small bag of nuts with which he said he will get the sunglasses back for Teresa.

quote left

We thought we’d lost Teresa’s
Sunglasses forever to the Cheeky Monkey
at the amazing Temple!

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I dully gave the old man the 100 rupees as an incentive!

He duly retrieved the glasses from the monkey and returned them to a much relieved Teresa. Later, whilst discussing the episode, it occurred to us that that was a clever scheme to earn money. The man was obviously close friends with the monkeys and they trusted him. But rather than condemn him for what might be his ‘con-man’ activities, we felt we had, for what was no more than the cost of a cup of coffee, seen a very clever ruse and enjoyed the experience.

He was (we thought!) a poor man and needed some extra income. But thinking about it – how many times had it happened over time and how much would he be earning day by day? But, be warned, we have seen this in large cities, like Jaipur and you will not get your bags or sunglasses back! Indian monkeys are very intelligent and do not need an ‘associate’ to assist or reward them!