The Telegraph
Saturday , August 4 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Literature in every language has verses paying homage to the rising sun. It is probably a way of showing gratitude for being alive. Or, maybe because it is the early hour of dawn when the sky turns grey and the morning star still glitters in its solitary glory, some tributes come to mind readily. Here are a couple of verses from Omar Khayyám:

Awake! For morning in the bowl of


Has flung the stone that puts the

stars to flight

And Lo! the Hunter of the East has


The Sultan’s turret in a noose of


Dreaming when dawn’s left hand

was in the sky

I heard a voice within the tavern cry,

“Awake, my little ones, and fill the


Before life’s liquor in its cup be dry.”

The Gayatri mantra is also a tribute to the rising sun:

Om Bhoor Bhuwah Swaha

Tat Savetur Vareynyam

Bhargo Devasya dheemahi

Dhiyo yo naa prachodayat

Om blast the sun

And the firmament

May the gods give me

The same life a light

Skin deep

I am indebted to N. Krishnamurthy for reminding me why monkeys have red faces and bottoms. I reproduce his letter: “I have always wondered why some monkeys have red behinds. For years I believed it was a feminine phenomenon connected with their menstrual cycles. But I noticed later that some male monkeys also had red posteriors and genitals. Then I made a third observation. Not one of the performing monkeys, whether male or female, belonging to the bandarwala had a red behind. Why? Where could I find the answer to such questions?

I laid my hands on Social behaviour of Monkeys by Thelma Rowell. It has very little on the three families on apes most commonly seen in India — rhesus, bonnet and langur. And what I said about the red on the posterior and genitals doesn’t answer all the questions. Redness is certainly connected with maturity and desire; it is ‘sexual skin’. And I was not very wrong in my guess that in the case of a female it marks her first menstrual period. About the male, all the author says is: “They also have sexual skins which become hairless on maturity, and bright red in the rhesus and some other species under the influence of testosterone. However, in either case, red is the green signal for sex — almost like a mating call.

Performing monkeys are usually taken in captivity as infants. The bandarwala becomes the substitute mother but does not give the baby monkey what its real mother can give. More important than food is affection and discipline, which teach the monkey its place in the simian social order so that it can, later on, adjust itself, mate and bear offspring. Monkeys reared by humans become misfits, they seldom have normal sexual impulses — and therefore no red on their behinds.”

Face off

While battling the giants in Lanka, Hanuman’s tail caught fire. After destroying Lanka, he put his tail in his mouth to extinguish the fire, which turned his face black, thus providing a mythological explanation to the question — why do langurs have black faces?

(Courtesy: Joginder Singh Babbra, New Delhi)

Safe yet sorry

Santa: I have heard that using a condom is very safe.

Banta: Not at all, I had used it. But still my girlfriend’s husband beat me up.

(Contributed by Vinay Asawa, Howrah)