100 Days in India Project

Monkey sitting on the wall of the Galta Gi Temple in Jaipur

33/ 100 The Photo I wish I had Taken

We’d had an eventful journey from Varanasi to Agra and so Fiona and I decided along the way to check into a nice hotel for a bit of luxury. We definitely aren’t shy of budget rooms but we were tired and grimy and needed a break. We ended up in really quite a nice colonial-era hotel with a walled garden that offered a tiny bit of respite from the noise and chaos of the outside world. It even had hot water and a mattress more than 2cm thick.

As with all the places we visited in India, Agra was full of monkeys. Most commonly the red faced macaque. They are quite cheeky and undoubtably very entertaining to watch, but then they can also be a bit of a pain. They like to steal things, and they crap all over the place, but we whiled away many an afternoon watching them play with things like pairs of jeans, taken from distant washing lines and then carried to the highest point on the roof where they were discarded. They also have a tendency to get angry when they are in a group and you accidentally bother them, particularly if there is a baby monkey there.

All this leads me to the time I perhaps most regret being too lazy to take a photograph. There have been several of these moments where I am disappointed in myself. Stunning views of the Scottish Highlands passed by in the car on the way home from a particularly long day photographing a wedding. A woman carrying a dog bigger than herself along a busy street in Paris. Just about anything at all when I am hangry and simply can’t be bothered to get my camera out and also all those times I was too lazy to even take my camera out with me.

On this occasion, however, we had been busy on the dusty streets of Agra so in the afternoon we were sat enjoying a gin and relaxing in the garden in our fancy hotel. One of the overly large and shiny gates to the garden opened and in walked a sulky teenage boy with a much larger monkey on a leash. The boy had striking features and never once smiled as he walked his monkey all around the hotel grounds for about 20 minutes before collecting, what I assume was his envelope of Rupees, and leaving. 

After quizzing the staff for quite some time (seemingly these boy / monkey combinations are so common that they didn’t think we were actually asking about that because surely everyone knew? The receptionist asked me how we controlled the monkeys where we live.) I discovered that these odd duos are hired to scare away all the macaques. The boy’s monkey, the black faced langur, is much bigger and greatly disliked by the small macaques. By simply walking around with one you can scare them away. However, the macaques always came back as soon as the big monkey left so I couldn’t really see the point.

I was far too lazy to go and collect my camera from my room, which still annoys me to this day as the boy with his monkey would have made a really great portrait.