This primate moment happened last month at the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. I was guiding Prof. Aiden Foy and Mrs. Hilary Foy from Australia. Seeing a troop of Toque Macaques marching along, I stood ground at a spot that I thought they may pass. The troop were quite disciplined in that they kept to a pavement designated for walkers. Expecting them to breach my personal space and ready for some an interaction, I had already kept one foot forward on the pavement. That was partly to claim ownership to it. And to show that I am no pushover.
A curious little macaque paused near my foot. It rolled its eyes up to take me in and hurried away. A female with a baby clutching onto her belly walked swiftly pass me, giving just a cursory glance. Soon, another little one stopped by. It gave a teasing pat on my boot and retreated in haste. Perhaps it feared an angry reaction from me. I stayed unmoved and he too moved on. After that, another little one paused near me. He gave a more assertive pat on my boot, looking up to check my reaction. Too easy, he went a step further and came closer to sniff it. Continuing the march, he too moved along. Then came what looked like the dominant male of the troop. He paused near me to give a once-over, and sniffed the boot himself, as if to check what's all the fuss about. And he then got distracted by my lens dangling down my waist and tried to reach it. That was too much, sorry, and I held it close to my body to claim ownership to it. Just looky looky, no touchy touchy there please, the big male sensed my energy and moved on.
Seconds later, two more curious macaques stopped by. No threat from me may have been the word around as they both got much nearer. After the sniffing routine, the game changed to a more confident full-contact sport. They both gave the boot a thorough inspection, touching it much more confidently. This entailed an obligatory inspection to see whether it was edible! And that meant a tiny bite on to my boot. It was mainly out of curiosity than to make a meal of my boot, so I tolerated it.
While this was going on, the other one rudely lifted my trouser to check out what's inside. Prof. Foy walked to the scene roundabout that time to take the above picture. Sadly, a security guard of the park—a real Buzz Killington— walked in and disturbed the monkeys. More sadly, I have no photographs of this monkey business of myself because it all was too close for my lens.
But sometimes memories are worth heaps than a photograph.