Monkey Poop on my Head: Is it Lucky?

In England, it is said that if a bird poops on your head, it’s going to bring you some good luck. But, what if it’s a huge monkey who see’s you from high up in a tree and defecates on your head? Is that also lucky? My initial feeling is that it’s a case of extreme bad luck to have poo fall on you from the sky.

It took me several seconds to realise what had just happened, at first I thought someone had thrown a rock at me! After inspecting a piece which had falling onto my hand (which was outstretched as I was holding Alfonso’s lead), I looked up and saw a big monkey bottom. More pieces of poop started to fall, so I ran away, covered in the warm, smelly monkey poop.

monkey bum, the source of the lucky or unlucky poop!

The culprit, shamelessly waving his bottom at me. I am beyond certain he did it on purpose!

Anyone who has been pooped on by a bird is usually told immediately that the smelly situation is very lucky. If the pooed upon then protests, ‘but, how is getting covered in bird poop going to bring me good fortune?’, a common response to this obvious question is ‘well, you’re lucky that horses can’t fly!’.

Well, monkeys too can’t fly (well, Lord Hanuman could in the Ramayana), but they do climb trees. Trees which I casually walk under with no idea of the risks. Hinduism has so many auspicious signs and symbols (swastik, rangoli, holy basil etc.), I wonder if this is one of them.

Do we just tell people who are pooped on that it’s really lucky just to try and add a little silver lining to a disgusting situation? Should I be buying a lottery ticket today? Have you been pooped on and then have something lucky happen?

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Watch Out, Mummy Monkeys About

My first ever morning in India, I looked around and two monkeys were in our kitchen! One on the fridge and the other on the dining temple, both enjoying snacks they had found. We had several similar visits after that, monkeys just wondering in the house taking what they fancied, but now the tree which they used for access has been cut down. I don’t think Alfonso would like it if he was face to face with a monkey.

This morning I was standing on our balcony watching a flocks of bright green parrots fly by and eating a peanut butter covered banana, and some commotion made me look down. Two monkeys carrying their little babies were being chased out of an apartment opposite by screaming women, it was amazing to see them swinging from balcony to balcony with ease, as if the apartment building were a tree.

Monkey Mamas in India

Whilst being scared down, some men on the ground were throwing stones up at them. Not just pebbles, huge rocks. I know that monkeys can be dangerous but this seemed completely unnecessary, especially as they were carrying small babies. For a while they didn’t know what to do, up or down, men with rocks or women screaming? They both sat on the roof of the apartment parking before jumping down past the rocks and running into the nearby restaurant! I tried to see what happened next but I couldn’t see from my balcony, I am sure it was dramatic.

Monkey Mummys

Monkey Langur and her Babe!

A couple of days ago I saw three huge male monkeys wander into someone’s front door! They were the size of four year old humans, I can only imagine the surprise someone got when they saw them in their kitchen. Living in India is certainly full of surprises!

Ramtek: An Ancient Temple of Monkeys & Myth

On top of a mountain near Nagpur, sits an ancient Lord Rama temple.  According to legend, Lord Rama resided on this mountain for a while whilst he was in exile. Lord Rama (the seventh avatar of Vishnu) was a beloved king, husband to beautiful Sita, and the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. 

Here is my own short and sweet retelling of the Ramayana:

Thousands of years ago, the king of Ayodhya had four sons and three wives. Lord Rama was the eldest of these sons and next in line to the throne. Lord Rama’s step mother tricked the elderly king into sending Lord Rama into exile for fourteen years so her son, Bharata, would be the heir to the kingdom. Lord Rama’s wife and his brother, Lakshmana, followed Lord Rama into exile to keep him company, they lived a happy and simple life together.

Their tranquil life didn’t last for long. The evil ten headed demon, Ravana, kidnaps Sita wanting to make her his own wife. Lord Rama and Lakshmana, with the help of the mighty monkey Lord Hanuman, assemble an army of monkeys to rescue her.  The bloodthirsty battle goes on for many days, finally Lord Rama’s army is victorious. Ravana is defeated and Sita is free.

Once the fourteen years of exile were over, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya as a King and Sita returned to Ayodhya as a mother to twin boys. Sadly, the citizens of Lord Rama’s kingdom were suspicious of Sita, they assumed she must have had an affair with Ravana whilst in his clutches. The kingdom demand that she prove her purity by walking through fire, if she was pure, she would remain unharmed. Sita walked through the flames and emerged untouched, she was indeed pure. Unfortunately, the people were still not satisfied and refused to accept her as their queen. She looked at the people as they protested, unconvinced of her purity. Sita called out to Mother Earth, ‘if I am pure, let the Earth consume me’. The Earth opened and Sita was never seen again. The people of Ayodhya got their proof but Lord Rama lost his wife and his son’s lost their mother.

View from Ramtek

Lord Rama is our family deity. My husband’s grandparents found gold statues of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman on their land and worshiped them ever since. I have looked forward to visiting Ramtek temple since I moved to Nagpur, and according to the guidebooks, Ramtek is the only place worth visiting around these parts (a little bit harsh). My family coming to Nagpur was the perfect excuse and Ramtek was definitely worth the visit!

There is a vertical drive up the mountain and a steep walk after that but the scary drive and sore calves are worth it, the view you get from the top of the mountain is breathtaking. You can see for miles across lakes, villages and trees. It seems that Lord Rama’s monkey army never left Ramtek, the monkeys are the personality of this holy site.

Welcome to Ramtek, please leave any edible items you have with us. Thank you, enjoy your trip. (Check out the baby, reclining)

Welcome to Ramtek, please leave any edible items you have with us. Thank you, enjoy your trip. (Check out the baby, reclining)

The monkeys of Ramtek welcome you by kindly taking any edible items from you, by force. They are not aggressive but they sure are determined to relive you of your food. You can buy bags of chickpeas to hand feed the monkeys from the stalls outside the temple. These stalls display food in monkey grabbing distance but the monkeys do not touch the food until you have bought it. As soon as money has changed hands it is fair game. Either the monkeys have learnt not to touch the shopkeepers food the hard way or they are just that respectful (I am guessing a stick may have been involved).

These monkeys are really intelligent, a large monkey opened my Dad’s clenched fist, when he finally pulled open his hand and found it was empty he looked up at him and with a look of annoyance he slapped himself on the head, as if to say ‘are you serious, man!?’.

My Dad @ Ramtek

My Dad

Sleep dog

On the ancient stone temple walls there are ornate figures, beautiful patterns and of course, monkeys. It was a hot day and when we took off our shoes to enter the temple, those ancient stones burnt our feet!  There is a beautiful atmosphere inside the temple, well, if you can ignore people taking photographs of the foreigners. One guy begged my husband to let him take a photo of me posing with his family, didn’t have the heart to say ‘no’ to the group of girls waiting expectantly.

Ramtek carving stone

Monkeys at Ramtek

Monkey helping with the washing up

Very helpful, doing the washing up

Beautiful little girl and a cheeky monkey

Monkey Twins

Monkey business

My little sister

I find it quite interesting that Lord Rama’s monkey army has never left Ramtek. They live in harmony with the visitors and shopkeepers, keeping close to the memory of their beloved Lord Rama. It makes Ramtek a very special place.  I loved it and my family loved it!

The deity of the temple is known to grant wishes, so if you ever visit Ramtek, don’t forget to make a wish!

Ramtek, Nagpur

My mum and youngest sister walking up to the temple

Monkeys in the Kitchen!

My first ever morning waking up in India started of being very relaxing. My husband had gone to the office and my mother-in-law and I were sat in the living room, we were getting to know each other. My mother-in-law can understand English, but finds it hard to find the words to speak it, whilst I struggle to even count to ten in Hindi or Marathi. Communication is difficult but fortunately we both laugh in the same language, and we laugh together a lot, mostly at the fact we are constantly misunderstanding each other.

I told my mother-in-law that my little sister was learning Arabic and she suddenly started to march on the spot. I was completely confused to why she started exercising randomly whilst I was mid-sentence. Was this a kind of Arabic dance she had learnt somewhere? What actually happened was that she thought I said my sister was learning aerobics! 

A couple of minutes of laughter and tea passed and then suddenly her eyes widened, ‘Lauren, get out of the house’ she shouted! My first thought was that there was a huge spider or maybe a mouse, but no… MONKEYS. There sat two monkeys happily eating our food, one on the dining table and one of the top of the fridge. There were monkeys in the kitchen!

We both ran out of the house and my mother-in-law told our gate-keeper about the monkeys. Our gate-keeper is a funny and fearless woman, she grabbed a stick, puffed out her chest, rearranged her saree and bravely ventured into our house. She then chased them both out of the window. 

The excitement reminded me of the thrill of when a bird would accidentally find its way into our house when I was a child. The cheeky monkeys had managed to get in by jumping from our neighbours tree to our balcony and then causally walk through the door. My husband told me it has happened a couple more times since this occasion but when I was in England.

Meanwhile, I continue to daydream that one day a monkey will come into our house, abandon its baby and then I have to raise it has my child. I would probably call it something obvious like ‘bananas’.