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Some fifteen months ago, I was pleasantly surprised by discovery of a drey in my bedroom’s window. It has been a constant fixture since then. Squirrels, especially ones I have been forced to make an acquaintance with, are extremely timid. I therefore, keep curtains drawn on my sole bedroom window, almost forever. The nest I suppose is abandoned during summers and is inhabited again each winter – around November. I suspect that at least one of the squirrels sleeps there at night. I can only tentatively infer this from the sounds of its paws grating against the metallic mesh; that normally guards against mosquitoes but in this case lends support to their abode, moments after sunrise. Once it is sufficiently bright outside, two squirrels venture to my balcony, where I usually leave leftovers from night. We have a tacit agreement - in case I eat out at night (which more often than not I do), I share with them my spoil of almonds.

It is a joy to watch squirrels eat. I love the way they squat on their rear legs, slightly hunched, and nibble daintily at whatever food they discover by holding it delicately in their cupped hind paws; at the same time keeping a restless, watchful eye for any impending dangers. So far their shyness and swiftness have kept me from capturing them on my camera. I hope they’ll grant me pleasure of their proximity once we are on even friendlier terms.

A friend told me an interesting mythological tale that accounts for three black stripes on the backs of most common squirrels. It is said, that Lord Rama, when passing through a forest in search of his abducted wife Sita, sat down to rest – tired, morose and desolate. A squirrel on observing this, and finding Lord Rama’s disposition most disagreeable, decided to humor Him. It not only fetched Him some of his choicest nuts and fruits, but also regaled Him with its playful antics. Lord Rama, touched by the creature’s kind gesture, affectionately took it in His hands, and caressed it gently with His fingers. Legend has it, that it is Lord Rama’s three fingers that left a permanent trail on the back of the squirrel. Squirrels therefore, are regarded sacred in this part of the world and are never harmed.
posted: 5.1.05


"Squirrels therefore, are regarded sacred in this part of the world and are never harmed." I hope you'll permit me a gross generalisation here: it often seems like you Indians have a better view of what should be sacred in this world than the rest of us do. It's something I hope you're all proud of.

By Blogger Deirdre, at 5.1.05  


As far as I am concerned all life is sacred :-).

By Blogger Deepak, at 5.1.05  

Squirrels were a common sight in the backyard of my house in Bangalore and more often than not they were joined by green parakeets early in the morning, who'd line up along the compound wall of the backyard and while looking very pretty in ther gree plume, would make cajoling noises. These would compete with the squirrels and the sparrows for grain. My father would leave lumps of rice on the top of the wall to feed them every morning and I remember counting 50 parakeets once ... a remarkably colourful sight and as kids my younger sister and I used to wake early just to see these creatures feeding and fooling around!


By Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn, at 6.1.05  

i have been reading ur blogs for quite sometime now...nice writings i must say!!..i am also deepakg from bangalore.......and by the way rajesh are u from some part of vijayangar???bcos i just second ur thoughts!!!!!
echo echo

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6.1.05  

1. For a pic. of the squirrel, try the timer mode & mounting the camera on a tripod (or try getting a remote if your camera's compatible : e.g. http://www.superwarehouse.com/Digital_Camera_Remote_Controls/c3/2643)

2. Based on my personal experience with squirrels I can say that they do get accustomed to the person, and in due course of time (which would around 3 months of daily presence) they surely venture close enough and allow you to make non-jerky or slow movements around them. But remember 2 things:
a) They'd suspect foul play if one fine day, suddenly you are holding a camera in your hands.
b) Beware of their paws! Sadly, we didn't evolve to have thicker skin (no pun intended)

3. My grandma's tale about the marks on squirrel's back was slightly different. The characters involved are the same i.e. Mr. M.P.S* Ram and the squirrel, but the setting was Setu-bandhanam. The monkey band was hurling huge boulders to build the setu and it was the name of Sri Rama that was keeping the boulders afloat. This squirrel wanted to contribute in its own way, and from day-break to night, it used to roll in the wet-sand and run to the end of the setu to shake the sand off its back (all the time it was chanting Sri Rama namam.) One of the vanaras rebuked the squirrel for being a nuisance and suggested that the squirrel get out of the way so as to not get squished while the squirrel maintained that it was doing its duty to its deity. And this commotion eventually got the squirrel an audience with Rama who stroked its back for its dedication and worship and the squirrel got the stripes.
*M.P.S => Maryada Purshottam Sri

By Blogger Vinil Menon, at 6.1.05  

While doing a search for Digital Camera Remote controls, I was pleasantly surprised to find a page at MS which describes how to take a pic of fireworks!
Deepak, those tips can be put to use for snapping (no pun intended) the squirrel too ;)

Check it out here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/learnmore/fireworks.mspx

And, the entire section on Digital Photography here:

By Blogger Vinil Menon, at 6.1.05  


Thanks for all the tips Vinil! I have a somewhat dated camera that I had picked for non-serious photography. While I plan to buy a tripod, it doesn't support remote shutter release... I'll definitely post my first squirrel picture here :-)

By Blogger Deepak, at 6.1.05  

Rajesh >> It saddens me greatly to see us loose appreciation of these little things in life. Back at my home in Delhi parakeets, pigeons, squirrels, sparrows (whose numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate), crows, doves and an occasional kite or two all join in the morning feast :-)

Anonymous >> Thanks for reading!

By Blogger Deepak, at 6.1.05  

Anon>> I stay in Rajajinagar, which is close to Vijayanagar...sure, I guess this flock of parakeets used to fly in and out of these areas - chances are that they had more than their share - your house and mine...

Deepak, its nice to see that you've had the good luck of chancing upon these in Bangalore too!

By Blogger jhgasuhvkjahklnsdlksnlknmlwvlckn, at 7.1.05  

The story that i had heard on how the 3 stripes came into being was, while Hanuman's Army was laying stones to build the bridge to Lanka were Sita was being held. A band of Squirrel landed on site and helped out by getting themselves wet and rolling on the sand and emptying the sand to hold the stones on the bridge…………… the rest is history

By Blogger That Song in your head: It's a Souvenir, at 10.1.05  

Hi [That Song... .]!

That makes it the third story on the subject - all minor variations on the similar theme, and all of them equally wonderful!

Thanks for sharing it!


By Blogger Deepak, at 10.1.05  

squirells any where in the world except asia doesn't have stipes in it back... atleast in europe and america

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2.11.06  

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