I thank Mike for inspiring this post with his beautiful post on the American Chickaree.
Reading that took me back to my childhood when I first heard the story about how the Indian squirrel got the three stripes on its back.
In our epic The Ramayana, when Rama uses the army of monkeys and bears to cast rocks into the sea to build a bridge from the Indian shore to Sri Lanka, a squirrel wanted to contribute as well, and starts picking up small pebbles and casts them into the sea. Seeing this, Ram is overwhelmed and picks up the little creature and caresses it to express his gratitude. That caress on its back leaves a permanent mark on its back and since then lore is that all Indian squirrels have had the three stripes on their backs. This story was repeated ad infinitum to drive home the moral that no effort is too small for a worthy cause.
I still remember the time that I told my mother that I most decidedly did not want three stripes on my back and got a hoot of laughter for a reward.
India is also home to the Malabar Giant Squirrel found mostly on our Western Ghats.
There is a sanctuary just about sixty five Kms from my home called the Bhimashankar which is also famous for its temple. I have had the privilege of visiting the temple and the sanctuary on a few occasions and have sighted the giant squirrels there. It is heartening that the once endangered species is making a strong and sustained comeback thanks to the conservation efforts here and elsewhere.
I bet that Mike would be zapped that his innocuous post would lead to this rather unusual, for me, post.