One monkey, the length of two palms, hooks his legs on a stone peg jutting out and stretches his body to reach a pool of water. The more he attempts to grasp the water with his small pink fingers, the more his grip loosens and slips from the peg. His mother finally spotting him, begins to lick and clean him in front of his friends, punishment for any adolescent. Such is the life of a monkey at Swayambhunath, more commonly called Monkey Temple for the vast amounts crowding the aisles and trees surrounding.
Dipika had been there earlier that day performing social work with their equivalent of Girl Scouts. She had planted trees for 3 hours. Proud (and rightfully so) of the work she had done, she stands positively beaming in front of one of the 10 she had planted that day.
Pouring at the monkey temple, at the end we had to descended nearly vertical stairs (117) whose width was less than a foot. Telling myself it was an adventure, I raced Dipika down and defeated my stomach-dropping-vomit-inducing fear of heights and the grapefruit sized raindrops pouring down on me.
That day was a holiday1, so to celebrate we went over to Pramila’s Aunt’s home. We were told when we arrived, we had just missed the dancing, but not to worry since they had just begin eating. I tried to tell them I wasn’t hungry and that I just ate breakfast in the small amount of Nepalese I knew. Needless to say, it didn’t work and if anything, encouraged them to feed more. At one point, I actually put my hands over my plate and the women with gray and white weathering hair shoved Khir (Rice Pudding) through a crack between my index finger and thumb.
1. I couldn’t figure out what the holiday was called or what it was celebrating. Upon each question, I was told, “This is only the holiday for women.”