Imagine getting up from where you are sitting to get a cup of tea. Turn around and look back to your seat – a HUGE male monkey is sitting there, dead-pan expression, eating your rice mandala offering while sitting bare butt on your meditation cushion. EEK. Trapped in the teeny galley kitchen, your primal fear response triggered, heart beating rapidly, your brain quickly scans escape plans and ways to protect yourself. But then the higher brain clicks in, Oh I want to protect my mandala. He is eating my holy rice! I start throwing kitchen items at him. He doesn’t care. He just stares right at me, stuffing his face with organic brown basmati and brightly colored pulses. I don’t want to hurt him. But I desperately want him to leave out the open balcony door and back into the concrete jungle he used to call home. Finally out of the corner of my eye I spot my running shoes. Alas, Adidas to the rescue! With a loud shout and a carefully hurled pink and orange size 8 trainer, he slowly lumbers out the door. Well-fed and now karmically connected to the the Path.
Daily life is full of animals here. It is one of the small joys of India. Cows and monkeys and dogs and goats. There are three small ponies who walk themselves to somewhere every day and then back again. Are they going to work? The neighbor puts out a small bucket of water for them. Sometimes I feed them carrot peels. There is the huge ox with a gray coat and big bright blue eyes. He is one of my favorites. Always a surprise to see blue eyes!
Yesterday on the bus I saw a sign: Shiva Shakti Dog Farm & Driving School. With a well-groomed german shepherd on the side. I don’t know why but it made me laugh all day upon reflection. I sort of want to go there, play with the pups and have a short defensive driving lesson if there’s time. My other favorite sign is at the temple above the shoe rack where you are required to leave your shoes before entering the shrine room. It says “Make sure your shoes are not stolen by someone”. So true.