Feature Story

Monkey horror show

Barrel of monkeys pushing new heights
Monkey treasure hunt - casket full of dal pulses
Prime mate - male monkeys practice getting it together
Monkeys down time up on the roof after vandalizing the banana trees
Morning monkeys collecting donations from hill bus passengers - Tamil Nadu India
Monkey business
Hanuman in a Saraswati pose - A morning visit on my balcony
Local monkey business
Market veggies for the monkeys, Sunday in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
Who let the dogs out

Monkey horror show

Instead of hunting the sneaky, sleek monkeys extinct, Indian offer them donations. Hindu mythology, known to any infant tells of the glorious army of monkeys that salvaged Sita, the beloved wife of king Ram.

In the west the tradition was to eliminate any animal species that compromises the comfort of humans. What's the result?

When I stayed for a few months in a Tamil rural town, I had to keep an open eye. Daily stepping out to practice yoga on the huge roof balcony I was occasionally surprised to open my room door and find the monkey clan settled all across. If I left any camera, notebook or even the rug it would likely become a game piece in their curious hands.

However they were as playful and inventive as kids and their acrobatic abilities pushed the interest to new heights (literally). I spent long hours all together snapping photos in every angle and view point.

But that was way into my India travels. My first encounters were different though.

Few days after first landing in India in 2007 I walked the sand path from my guest house with Ravi's family to the road leading to town. Half way through I found a toothless old man shooting a slingshot. I knew no Hindi but we had a good laugh as he pointed out the monkeys and I got that they ran out of his home, jumped the mango trees onto the roof of the neighbor. That was probably my first video shot in India.

The nest experience wasn't so cheerful. Climbing Brahma Giri, the temple mount outside Nashik, we got trapped, surrounded in a tight rock corridor by pyrates monkeys which jumped on every back that carried a pack, opened every zipper and searched every pouch for food.

Later, in Jodpur Rajasthan I went with a local friend to shop veggies at the market and go offer them to monkeys on Sunday.

Climbing up village mountains in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Mani the serious anthropologist threw out tomatoes for the monkeys which chased the bus.

At the post office, as I arrived after hours, the off duty government clerk was busy serving water to the monkeys and watching them playfully fight, roll and be goofy.

So what entertainment are we left with after we drove "annoying" animals out of town? Stupidity from manipulative production houses? Industrious essence-less sensations?

As Indian culture westernizes, gets more saturated with technology which drives the addiction to man-made comfort the sitting near the well sipping a coconut from the nearby tree and watching nature go by may gradually reduce along with the monkeys....

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2 responses

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain gave props (8 Oct 2012):

    Etan wonderful story. Each part of India, you will find same story. Sometimes they come in a group and spoil our rooftop garden and go. I liked your story and enjoyed. Do write more stories in future. Vote!!!

  • je suis moi

    je suis moi gave props (5 Feb 2013):

    Indeed I voted. What a monkey tail :-)

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