One of the Guys – June 2008

Shot of the Month – June 2008

Once you know the story behind this photo, you can’t help but smile each time you see it.

This shot was taken at the entrance to the Ranthambore National Park in the Rajasthan Province of India.  Ranthambore is one of the best places in the world to go if you want to see tigers in the wild.  This was my third visit to this park and we had some unbelievable sightings on this trip.

At this park you can only visit in the morning for a few hours and then all vehicles must leave to allow the animals some peace and quiet.  In late afternoon you can enter the park again for a few hours to try your luck in finding the elusive tiger.  There are several different entrances to the park but this one is found at the base of a fort.  In the upper reaches of the fort is a Ganesh temple which attracts pilgrims from around the country.  As the fort is located far from the nearest town, many worshippers cram into taxis to reach this holy spot.

In this photo we see some of the taxi drivers waiting patiently for the worshipers to return so they can take them back to town.  At this same spot, twice each day, a handful of safari vehicles sit with expectant tourists while guides complete the paperwork necessary to enter the national park.

The parking area is typically a hubbub of activity.  Peacocks preen and call exotically from the nearby trees or from atop the fort ramparts.  Langar monkeys are ever present–some playing in the trees while others run over, under, and into the vehicles.  Pilgrims often dressed in bright, techno-color flowing outfits take water from the nearby fountain.  Drivers joke with one another, safari guides share stories of tigers almost seen, and the park guards and wardens chastise, usually mockingly, the guides for some infraction or another.

But I digress. On the wall, we see a line of taxi drivers, hanging out, watching the scene.  If you look closely you will see that one of the characters is not like the others.  It is a langar monkey.  A moment before the monkey had come up from behind the wall and tapped the guy with the red scarf on the hip, and nodded to the small space to his right.  The man looked at his colleague, who shrugged nonchalantly, and slid over.  The other men, domino like, all slide down and made space for the monkey.  The langar monkey jumped up and sat down with his buddies.

And that was it.  No fuss, No amazement.  The guy in the brown shirt made no comments, no questioning.  The guys went on with their stories and conversations.  The monkey sat there and took it all in.

For all parties involved, everyone acted like it was perfectly normal to have a monkey tap you and ask if he may cut in and join your group.

 

See, you’re smiling, aren’t you?