‘Common sense is not so common’ Voltaire
‘How to get rid of Monkeys’ I furiously typed into my search engine. The web spat out a list of news articles about the agonising monkey menace in India. I soon learnt that these pesky creatures had infiltrated many urban areas. Undaunted by the high ranking government officials or their security guards, the leafy green compounds of the prestigious Lutyen’s Delhi was the preferred choice of residence for these cheeky unwanted guests. The Houses of Parliament had not been spared either nor were the Secretariat buildings. Turns out that these brazen baboons vandalise offices, rummaging through stacks of files and documents, as they ruthlessly tear some, scatter others and create mayhem. Mercifully, these apes are illiterate otherwise one can imagine how many top government secrets they could leak out!
Immersed in my monkey research, I unravelled some rather ludicrous facts about these audacious apes. Take their sartorial sense for instance; they shamelessly pinch people’s laundry from the clothesline and put on their shirts – some having mastered the art of deftly buttoning them up! I listened in awe as my helper Deepali enthusiastically recounted many more ‘first hand monkey tales’. According to her, these saucy simians enjoy flirting with the women folk, as they prance around them and yank at their sarees in a bid to tease them. She detailed the saga of their harassment inflicted upon our next door neighbours. They were known to regularly raid our neighbour’s fridge. On occasions they would greedily glug the orange juice and leave the kitchen in a terrible mess- much to the dismay of the neighbour’s cleaner. Life would be so much better if they learnt to pour themselves a drink, I remarked wryly as Deepali looked confused at my sarcasm. Seeing my interest in her stories gave her the confidence to lengthen her narratives with juicier details. A few months ago, two ungracious monkeys had, upon entering the neighbour’s living room, made themselves comfortable on the sofa, switched on the telly and then rudely flung the remote out of the balcony. Surely there are better ways to deal with boring television programmes than dispensing rage on a poor remote! Deepali assured me that she wasn’t exaggerating when she spoke of the time these unabashed rascals had dared to hop onto the Delhi Metro and enjoyed the free ride much to the bemusement of co passengers.
Frustrated, I trawled numerous websites seeking an answer to this monkey problem and came across some ridiculous suggestions. I gathered that in the past, some wise guy had come up with a solution: beating the monkeys at their own game! That resulted in the introduction of the Langur (a larger Black faced monkey with a long tail) to scare away their notorious smaller counterparts- the wild macaques that have the constant run ins with the humans. It worked for a while, as daunted by the sheer size of the Langurs, the monkeys retreated. Pleased with their ingenuity, the government enlisted the services of these lanky Langurs to protect their establishments from the mischievous monkeys. All was hunky dory until the animal activists surfaced and protested against the mistreatment of the Langurs and the unethical usage of forced labour. After all, it was to be noted that the Langurs had no say in the matter of their employment. With no Langur seal of approval regarding their work contract, the voice of democracy prevailed and the use of Langur services was officially banned as the triumphant monkeys returned to rule again.
My tenacious search for a solution led me to various adverts selling tools to ward off the monkeys. One that caught my attention was the entrepreneurial skills of a particular seller, who I couldn’t help but grudgingly admire for his inventiveness.This smarty pants was flogging an instrument that made a loud bang to scare off the monkeys. On closer scrutiny, an entire page on his website was dedicated to a grim real life story of a poor deceased Delhi minister who had unfortunately plunged to his death whilst chasing a monkey around on his 3rd storied balcony. Whilst lacking sensitivity and not sparing any thought for the grieving family of the departed minister, this seller bluntly put his point across. He warned members of the public of a sinister fate akin to that of the poor minister unless they invested in his monkey warding tool. I wonder till this day, how profiting from someone else’s misfortunes got past the advertising standards or any such similar regulatory body.
Whilst some were profiting from the monkey troubles, there were others that considered it sinful to even regard these creatures as a nuisance. They firmly held on their devout Hindu belief that monkeys were an embodiment of Hanuman (the Monkey God). To appease the God, they would leave out bananas and peanuts on their balconies to invoke Hanuman’s blessings via the monkeys. This in turn encouraged more monkeys to make regular home visits on other unwilling residents.
As an ode to these creatures that had inadvertently dominated our lives, my then 14 year old daughter wrote a Dr Seuss inspired poem entitled Monkey Business, which made me chuckle and see things from a different perspective. I share the poem below:
A menacing shuffle,
Came from the next room.
I walk in to find,
A monkey trying on my perfume!
With thick, black fur,
And sharp, white teeth,
Smiling from ear to ear,
Eyeing up his next feast.
I screamed with fright; looking quite a sight,
What was I supposed to do if the monkey did bite?
It was a hot summers day; a day great for a swim.
I walk up to the terrace, to find another chimp!
He’s sat in my pool, sipping on some iced tea.
Politely requesting, “Care to join me?”
I try to run,
To run far away,
But his pea sized brain,
Told him I wanted to play.
I’m sat on the train; getting away from it all.
I’m sat on the train,
And who’s in the next stall?
The conductor checks my ticket,
Then moves to my little friend.
“Finally!” I exclaimed,
“He can put this monkey business to an end!”
Just when I thought he’d be kicked off the train,
For driving his co-passengers completely insane,
The monkey angrily grinded his teeth…
And that’s how he got a train ride for free!
The following day,
Our cleaner is back.
And along come the monkeys,
Now in a big pack.
Having a contest,
To see who’s most ‘cool’,
One rips off her sari!
Oh, what a tool.
I look in shock,
At what I did just see,
For it brings a whole new meaning,
To ‘cheeky monkey’.
Of this monkey business, I do not condone.
Why can’t these monkeys just leave us alone?
Despite their vexing antics and their narcissistic clout,
By some gullible people, they are given the benefit of the doubt. .
Staunch devout Hindus,
Leave out banana flans,
Thinking this imposter,
Is their god, Hanuman!
It’s movie night,
We think we’re finally alone,
Until I spot a hairy hand,
In my bowl of popcorn.
I turn around to see, the dreaded beast,
Bearing its carnassial teeth at me.
I begin to shout,
“YOU HORRIBLE MONKEYS ARE WEARING ME OUT!”
I call it time to devise a plan,
To get these simians off my land.
So the following day,
The monkey came once more.
Little did he know,
That this meant war.
He climbed up the building,
And began wreaking havoc,
On the top balcony.
The puny guards,
A group of twelve or so,
Were so intelligently,
Waving sticks from below?
They aimlessly aimed for an hour or three,
Until they had to admit to defeat.
Despite how pesky those creatures may be,
Right now us humans look like the real monkeys!
By Ahana Banerjee