With the monsoon weather here to stay until September, and after some 9 months without rain, now is the time that all those leaks in the roofs show up and need quick repairs. They are mostly caused by the wild monkey troop, who gaily crash and leap over the house and monkey pen roofs in their high spirited games, and leave broken tiles and roofing sheets behind. To add to the work load, not being the “holiday season” here, not a volunteer to help in sight! Even the British ex pats of Goa, either take a trip home, or stay in town in the worst of the rains. Our normal work load is also increased due to the added difficulty of food collection and picking up the dumped kittens and pups from the markets, even when not raining, mud rules. However it is nice to see the country side green again and the cooling rain is a nice change, after most showers, you simply steam dry in the soon returning heat.
The monkeys still get there walks in the gardens between the rain, , Tufty and Preston are happy to cling onto Nagesh, normally they can’t wait to jump in the pool. When it is raining hard, they are just as happy to simply come into the house instead for a change of scene, and watch the rain through the widows.
The recently flooded fields become a bird watchers paradise, and many more species move in to take advantage of the new food supplies. I didn’t have to go far to spot this Malabar grey Hornbill on the balcony, clearly curious about the sugar water feeder for the sun birds, and if there was anything in it for him.
In our rural setting, the vast population of weird and wonderful insects becomes even more obvious now, and the start of the rains always signals the hatching of winged termites from the many termite mounds in this locality. On several nights, when the temperature and humidity are right, thousands of them take to the air over a few hours, and head for the nearest light source, the tree house! The swarms literally block out the lights and loads of them find the tiny cracks and holes they need to get indoors too, luckily they do not bite, but when squashed on the skin, they do produce an itchy rash. In the morning the cast off wings are thick on the floor, like a sparkling carpet, and are so light, it is impossible to sweep them up. This annual invasion is always followed by several nights of thousands of tiny little black beetles. These are obviously motivated to look for a place to hibernate from the rains, and so squeeze their tiny bodies into books, cupboards, drawers and all the door and window frames. In the morning, opening any door or window results in a shower of them, into cloths and hair and clattering onto the floor. For days, shutting a door or window is always accompanied with a horrible crunching sound, as they find out, but never learn, it is not a good place to hibernate safely.
Of the many larger local insects that also want to get indoors at the start of the rains, one found its way into the kitchen. This was a green beetle, at least 4 inches long, not counting antenna. Because I did not know if it had jaws to match its size, I escorted it back out inside a tea towel, and was startled when it started to whine and cry loudly just like a kitten, in protest at its undignified exit. I expected perhaps a grating noise, or a buzzing, this strange cry is undoubtedly a defence strategy, and I have no doubt it would give some predator second thoughts, I almost dropped it in surprise!
It is not just wildlife that can be startling here in India. Following a night watching the horrific London Bridge incident on the news, I went in the morning to our local big market day in town. As I approached the car park, I could see in the side mirror a large Muslim man, in full robes and beard, running beside the car , waving frantically a machete in one hand, and a large knife in the other! He was of course only trying to sell them to me, thinking I was a rare tourist .It wouldn’t do to be of a nervous disposition here.