I thought I’d got over monkeys, especially after Varanasi, but when our driver stopped the car on the way up to Dharamsala to change a flat wheel, we found ourselves surrounded by them and I couldn’t resist snapping away like a first-time-in-India-tourist (so humiliating…).

Mostly I’m afraid of them, I must confess, but according to Drubgyud Tenzin Rinpoche, you just have to make the gesture of throwing something at them and they’ll go away. Neither of us managed to put his advice into practice, though, the day we sat on the banks of the Ganga to work and were set upon by two or three, bearing very sharp and possibly rabid fangs. I froze while Rinpoche met the eyes of the gang leader. My only thought was for my computer, which seemed to be the object of their desire, and in a rare show of bravery (and against Rinpoche’s advice) I quickly scooped it up, then started shaking as I realized what could have happened if the monkey has been really determined.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t restrain myself  when I saw these two engaged in heavy ‘preening’—although there were moments when I wondered where ‘preening’ ended and ‘pornograph exhibition’ began!

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