It feels like I'm living in an exhibit at the zoo here, I am surrounded by wildlife. A family of peacocks live in my garden, and i can hear them calling to each other. There are dogs wandering between houses, and lizards both inside and outside. (I can hear the geckos clicking at night, which means they're somewhere in my room but I don't know where. It takes some time before you trust that you're not going to wake up to one crawling on you.) We also have our share of less pleasant creatures, including spiders, scorpions, rats and ants (both of which I've had the pleasure of having inside my house already) and of course, monkeys. It really is a treat to walk through and have peacocks fanning their tails out every day. It almost feels normal at this point because it happens so much, but we all know this is not the case. In fact, I wanted to go look at the full moon on my roof last night (roofs here are flat so you can walk on them), and I went up the steps only to find a brood of peacocks sleeping there already! I wasn't about to disturb them--not yet sure how vicious they are compared to the monkeys.
Don't believe whatever Disney or Aladdin told you; monkeys in India are not cute. They're vicious, full of diseases, and will attack you. I walk everywhere with a slingshot so I can shoot them if need be. Seriously! You get a group of them blocking your way (like i did on my way down the mountain this week-I thought I was going to either die of rabies or be stranded up there) and you have to back away and hope they move along, unless you shoot them. Not to kill, but just to scare them off so they'll get out of your way.
It takes some getting used to, opening your curtains in the morning and seeing a face staring back at you through the screen, but monkeys are not shy.
Something that takes some real getting used to is the ants. They are everywhere. And they can smell food from a mile away, literally. So you have to keep all your food either in the fridge, in sealed glass containers (they'll chew through plastic) or in a dish with water underneath, since they can't swim--yet.
We left one grain of rice on the counter after dinner the first night, and there were THOUSANDS of ants the next morning. They made a steady stream through the kitchen counter and out the front door.
We had to return some groceries that our delivery man brought that we hadn't ordered, so we left them in a burlap bag on the porch. The next morning, the ants had bitten a hole through the bag, through the packaging on the cookies, and there were only crumbs left. They just swarmed the entire area. It is so disgusting, I really have to try to not lose it when this happens. I hate the way they move!
It happened again today when I left a bag of cashews in my backpack. I went to retrieve them for a snack and pulled out an ant-infested bag instead. My backpack is currently in the freezer until I can be sure they're all dead. At least they haven't come in the bedroom yet. Then I really wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I already have nightmares every time I come here of waking up to my entire body covered in ants...ahhhh I get the creeps just thinking about it!
Luckily my obsessive compulsive cleaning habits are paying off, and we've managed to minimize the infestations. It is a content battle, though, and it makes you paranoid--every time I have an itch somewhere my mind instantly assumes it's an ant and it's so much worse.
That's another thing about India-everything is bigger here. The bumblebees, the butterflies, and the insect bites (exhibit A):
I have no idea what bit me but I'm still alive so it can't be that bad, right?