Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

Hey, hey! We're the Monkeys! People say we monkey around!

The monkeys have invaded.

No longer do the hairy little beasts remain content to sit in the tree outside our kitchen balcony. Oh no. 

They come inside.

Yesterday while Steve was at work, I opened up all the windows and porch doors and cranked the ceiling fans in an effort to maximize air movement. I set up camp in the dinning room on the table. It's cooler, I can sit directly under a fan, and I can spread out. However, the location of the table does not allow full visual of the rest of the apartment--I cannot see the living room (it's behind me) and I cannot see into the kitchen.

Now hang in there with me just a little bit longer.

It has been windy as of late. Cyclone Phet has been busy blowing up the coast, causing some major damage along the way. The worst Ahmedabad saw, however, was some big winds--the kind that blow leaves from trees and cause mild dust storms--and rains (glorious, glorious rains!). So, when I heard a crash and a rustle, I thought nothing of it really. I was in the midst of a serious bout of writing genius and couldn't be bothered.

And then I heard it again, a sound like someone riffling through a drawer of loose silverware.
Curious, I pushed my chair back and craned my head as far as my neck allowed.

I saw this:

Just in case you can't recognize it, that thing on the floor, as well as IN THE MONKEY'S HAND is a much coveted mango.

And if you're curious, my initial reaction was this:

Now mind you, these pictures were taken after about three minutes of staring at the monkey staring at me. Once, someone warned me not to smile (show your teeth) at monkeys, which, the last time I was in India, proved to be good advice. Long story short--a friend with a toothsome grin accidentally smiled a momma monkey, who calmly put her baby down, climbed down the tree, and charged us. We ran inside a store and were held hostage for what felt like an eternity by a monkey screaming and banging on the window.
So this time, with roughly fifteen feet between me and the monkey, and knowing how rapidly monkeys can move when so inclined, I was not about to make any sudden moves. I weighed my options and did the only thing logical.

I called Steve. The conversation went something like thus:

Steve: Hello love!
Tina (calmly, barely above a whisper, while staring at the monkey): There's a monkey in the kitchen. What do I do.
Steve: What?
Tina: There's a monkey in the kitchen and he's eating our mangos
Steve: Hold on, there's a WHAT in our kitchen eating our what?
Tina (louder, a bit panicked): There's a f**king monkey in our kitchen eating our mangoes!
Steve: Hold on.

*Click* (the sound of the phone hanging up.)

Insert annoying doorbell music, probably "She'll be Coming Around the Mountain when She Comes" or "Batlle Hymn of the Republic" or possibly "Amazing Grace." (Our doorbell plays over thirty different songs. Mostly Civil War era or there abouts.) 

At this point, I'm swearing under my breath and trying to decide if its really a wise idea to answer the doorbell when a monkey is sitting practically IN my house. I answer the doorbell, figuring at the very least I can employ the help of whomever is unfortunate enough to choose that moment to try to sell me something. (No joke, we've had people selling toothbrushes and razors ring the doorbell. They wander off after they realize I don't speak a lick of Gujarati beyond "khiskoli" or "matsya bhavan"--the words for "squirrel" and "fish palace (aquarium) respectively). It's Steve. 

Steve's official view of monkeys is "They're cool but I neither want to pet one or have one as a pet." He once had a pervy monkey that watched him sleep. Every day for a week. Suffice to say, Steve only likes them from a distance. 

I should also preface the shenanigans that ensued by saying we weren't wholly unaware that monkeys are... home invasion artists. The family we briefly stayed with had this fruit basked with a net covering. The covering had a hole in it about big enough for a child to fit it's hand through. I assumed that a child did, indeed, make such a hole. Nope. Not the case. A monkey came IN THE HOUSE, and helped himself to whatever was inside the fruit basket, ate, and left. 

Monkeys don't make good house guests.

I start babbling like an idiot about the monkey in the kitchen. We're both staring at the monkey. Which is unphased by my escalating (read: verge of shrieking) voice, or Steve's threats to bean the bastard with the big plastic jar of granola. Instead, it does this:
Oh hey, look at that! An individually wrapped mango just for me!

Nom, nom, nom!

Mangos are sticky!

See that orange smudge on the right hand side of the picture? The little turd looked at his hand, decided it was too sticky to deal with, FLUNG MANGO GOO off his hand and then wiped it on the porch wall. Repeatedly.

And oh yeah, he brought a friend.

And the friend wants in...

Rest of the story goes something like this.

First the juvenile monkey showed up. He sat on the window sill and looked longingly into our kitchen.

Then Big Momma showed up. There are no pictures of Big Momma cause, well, she was big and scary. When she sauntered INTO the kitchen--as in PAST the door and into the kitchen proper--Steve shoved me out of the house, grabbed whatever valuables were close by (the computer, the one unmasticated mango Steve managed to rescue, and our bags. I should mention, I was now standing outside my apartment in flip-flops and pajamas.

Steve decides to see if the chokidar, a sort of building doorman, can do anything about the trio of monkeys on our porch. According to Steve (you'll really have to have him tell you the story when we're state-side again), the conversation went a little something like this.

Steve, arriving downstairs to see him dead asleep on a rope-bed, pauses for a second to catch his breath and collect himself, stands over him for a beat until he wakes up.
 "Eh, sir?"
"Hunh?" he says, lifting up his head a bit and blinking through the sleep in his eyes.
"Tran vandaro amara rasoda-maa che." [There are three monkeys in our kitchen.]
"Vandaro?" [Monkeys, eh?]
"Hahn. Tran... Rasoda-maa... Hav-ey." [Yeah. Three of 'em... In the kitchen... Right now.]
"Jati rahega." [Wait for 'em to leave.]
"Shu!?" [What!?]
"Jati rahega," and puts his head back down.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. I couldn't take it. Standing listening to things bang around in the kitchen was KILLING me. So I tip-toe back inside (feet still in flip-flops just in case I have to sprint the other way) and squat down in an attempt to see underneath the curtain that separates the kitchen and dining room. I see little feet move back and forth, and then disappear, followed by the slap of monkey feet on our counter-top.

I can't take it. I manage to wait until Steve comes back before swishing the curtain back. By this time, we're back down to two monkeys. One of which, decides its had enough of mango, comes in the kitchen, rifles through our basket of potatoes, onions, and beets. He picks up two potatoes, cradles them in the crook of his arm and re-assumes his position on the balcony.

Don't worry, monkeys share. He proceeds to take a bite out of one potato, throw it to the ground, smack his smaller friend on the shoulder and point at the potato. Little monkey jumps to the ground, examines the potato and discovers the tub of peanuts Big Momma snagged. He tried biting the top off, bats the tub around for a bit.
Just so you know, we're actively rooting for the monkey at this point. We openly groan when the little guy has the tab in his little paw--all he has to do is give it a yank and it'll pop right off--but then turns the whole tub over and bits and the bottom again. See for yourself:

Shortly after that, we decide no more monkeys inside. Steve makes a mad dash for the door, flings it shut and blots it.

The rest of these pictures are taken from the inside looking out. Yes, the cheeky monkey held us hostage in our apartment. The little guy was VERY interested in the fact I was taking pictures--he stared at me a little too intently--while the other one could have cared less. He had a potato to eat.
Are you lookin' at me? Are YOU lookin' at ME?


This is GREAT!!! I recently went to Florida and got to see some Monkeys up close for the first time in my life. If their overall scary demeanor wasn't enough to scare me, their smell sure did the trick! The smell reminded me of a bum in NYC at the end of a very hot summer throughout which he never bathed. Pretty cool though. Glad you made it out safely!!! Jenny F.

Jenny, I am happy to say I've never been close enough to a monkey to smell it. However, having been in the vicinity of a bum who wet himself while riding the T in Boston, I totally get the smell you're describing.

I have had a monkey fling poo at me though... but not a bum (thank God!).

They're (the monkeys) scarily human like. The little babies are adorable and make me want to snuggle them.

OH GOD! I'll take the monkey poo over the bum poo, FOR SURE! Yeah, I got pretty close and it's scary how human they smell. BO in all its glory! Although, I'm sure that if I saw a baby monkey, I'd be taken in a second. Note to self: don't make eye contact with a baby monkey!

ROFL, omg that was the best story EVER! You guys rock, I love steve's mad dash to shut the door. I know were i there, i would have been cowering behind you hissing, hit it with a stick! Which, obviously, is not the right advice. lol.

Soooo have we learned a lesson now? Don't leave the porch door open? Or at least have a fire hose at the ready, if you do? ;)

Also the comment about wanting to snuggle a baby made me think of a line from Michael Chriton's CONGO (i know what a horrible book to refer to. Scary how summer "bubble gum" reads stick with you lol) The main scientist who is training a Gorilla comments on how it angers him that humans at zoo's will rush to pull their children away from the Gorilla pens and protect them, but love to shove the kiddies at the cute little monkeys. This is because the Gorillas as more likely to RAISE your child and the Monkeys are more likely to eat it.

And that image has stuck with me forever. Monkeys = child eating monsters.

but dammit, they are cute. lol.

I think its the brute force of the gorilla that scares people... they just look like they can rip your arm off (well, they probably can). Monkeys, incidentally, are not as non-threatening as you'd think. All poo-slinging aside, they've got incredibly large teeth and move really fast. And probably have insane strength.

Big Momma probably would have snatched the stick from you and beat you to death with it. She was THAT scary. :)

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The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
- Mark Twain

In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.
- Appolonius Tyanaeus

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-Romain Rolland