It’s been three years since I moved into this new city. As a localite or a Jayanagaran (a name I coined for myself), the best place Bangalore has offered me is Lalbagh – a not so tiny botanical garden where I often find something new. It was in one of the mornings of December 2014 when I met the monkey man – Shivshankar who is quite popular among the monkeys, the morning joggers/walkers and also with the admins of Lalbagh for feeding the four-legged mischievous wonder for quite sometime now. He has also appeared in some of the local papers but I wasn’t aware of it when I met him. My interaction with him then was brief as I was intrigued by the number of monkeys that kept coming towards him to grab a bite of carrots, fruits and biscuits, which he carried in a bag along with some water. For an animal lover like myself, this was one of those ‘aaw’ and ‘I want to feed them too’ moments. I noticed how he would either place a carrot or some other vegetable/fruit on his palm so that the monkey could pick the item itself or simply point the food towards the monkey. He then offered me a carrot and asked ‘why don’t you feed them?’ ‘They won’t harm you.’ I gladly took few carrots over the course of few minutes and fed the hungry ones before bidding them bye for the day, and returning the next day with some carrots for them.
What’s special about this gentleman is that he continues to bring food for the monkeys three times a day. I caught up with him again, this time with my camera and also got some gyaan (knowledge) on the monkeys, his life and life’s basic necessities, which we humans ignore. He went on to share how he had once lost all hope in life and had come here to commit suicide only to be saved by the monkeys. Since then, there has been no turning back. He framed a strong bond of trust and friendship with the monkeys, and carved a of Story of inspiration and dedication to many like myself.