India is crawling with monkeys. They see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. They just do lots of evil.

Most of the monuments and holy places, historical places and hidden places we visited were infested with primates. And like most Americans, we like monkeys. They're cute. Intelligent. Distant relatives. Funny little hands, sentient eyes, humorous expressions. And always a delight for the camera. Bozo in India.

Until you get too close. And then you realize you're not dealing with an adorable Disney clay animation critter, but rather a wild animal, usually with big teeth, quick wits and the pissed off attitude of someone who got the short end of the evolutionary stick, the distant corner of the farmland, and the last of the easy pickings.

That's why they tend to gather in ancient monuments, parks and other public places--snacks all year. On the edge of Agra in Sikandra we watched rhesus m
acaques cavorting around Akbar's Tomb, boldly walking up to the few tourists with hands held out, then taking their afternoon siesta in the sun.

At the Kanheri Caves in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park about 25 miles north of Mumbai we watched one old male cleaning every last fragment and molecule off a plastic bag, an activity that can lead to death if you ever read the small printing on the side of laundry bags.

In the forests of Sariska National Park we spent hours watching the langurs with their long, graceful tales leaping between trees with the panache of the Russian Olympic gymnast team. Everything was still, only the slightest breeze stirring the leaves. Then suddenly a tree would shake and an explosion of snapping woods and rustling leaves, and out of the canopy a body would fling across the space and land on a swaying branch and give out a proud "hoot."

We had quickly come to be weary of these intelligent, clever and unscrupulous cousins. But we never grew tired of watching them, learning from them, wondering over the gulf that separates us.

Cassidy stands in front of one of the many Buddhist cave carvings at the Khaneri Caves, north of Mumbai. Some of these are nearly 2,000 years old
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