Every April, my family would go to the local women’s cooperative to buy a bottle or two of this wonderful ruby red drink. One year, the cooperative was doing a squash-making demonstration. When my dad saw this, he said it seemed so easy that we should make our own. So Dad, along with my little brother and me, went to collect flowers from the local wood to make our own squash.
My dad, never one to dream small, said that if it went well, we could become the next squash barons. Rhododendrons in the Himalayas are not like the ornamental garden shrubs we have in Britain. There they are fully grown trees which can reach up to 4m-5m high. More problematically, they grow on steep slopes at an angle and are not that easy to climb. When we arrived at the wood, which surrounded a lake, we could see the trees full of flowers and it was decided that Dad would climb up, pick the flowers, and drop them under the tree for my brother and me to collect.
He had only been at it for five minutes or so when we heard the trees rustling and a pack of five to eight langur monkeys materialised. Two of them jumped on to the tree our dad was on and started shaking the branches violently in an attempt to make him fall off the tree. Dad was frozen with fear; he clung to his branch in a monkey pose (he told us later it’s the best way to get rid of them) and shouted to us to find help. I think this is the only moment in my life where I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully, a group of shepherds were passing and came to our rescue by shooing the langurs away and helping Dad get off the tree.
At home, Mum asked about the flowers and Dad sheepishly told her that this year hadn’t been so good for the flowers and we’d decided to leave the few there were on the trees. To this day, I cannot pass by a rhododendron bush without picturing Dad sitting in his monkey pose on a tree surrounded by langurs. Happy memories!
Culled from theguardian.com