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  • Writer's pictureSeema Banerjee

‘The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it’s limits’ Albert Einstein

It was stifling to be trapped indoors, unable to even venture into my balcony or my terrace garden because of the monkey threat. I had to temporarily abandon my Feng Shui beliefs as the doors and windows in my flat were tightly shut, thereby also restricting the free flow of ‘Chi‘- the positive energy within my residence. This had an obvious knock off effect on me; turning the once calm yogi into an irate, cranky woman. Trying to adapt to a new norm whilst imprisoned in my own house, I wistfully gazed outdoors for the freedom and fresh air that I craved. It made me even more homesick thinking about the crisp English country air, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds that I sorely missed. It seemed outrageous that my way of living was now being dictated by silly monkeys and I was unwilling to cower down or admit defeat. After all, it is our intellect that differentiates us from our Simian ancestors. That was precisely the argument I had used when earlier on I had barged into the building management office with my complaint.

‘Monkeys can not fly’ I exclaimed exasperatedly. As a resident of the Condominium and paying a hefty monthly fee towards the building maintenance costs, I felt it was well within my rights to seek some explanation from the Building Management. Surely, it wasn’t a rocket science to figure out how these annoying creatures had managed to gain access to my top floor penthouse. The Building manager furrowed his eyebrows and seemed taken aback at my outburst. He looked especially offended when I offered him a suggestion – ‘Trap their entry routes, nip it in the bud.’ I tried to reason with him that setting numerous security guards off to chase individual monkeys was NOT the solution. It was a complete waste of time, resources and most importantly had not worked in the past. We needed to put a stop to the problem of monkey invasion rather than aim to cure it’s outcome. I tried in vain to convince him, but the manager’s pride was clearly bruised ( more so at being told by a woman) and he was having none of my reasoning.

My pleas fell on deaf ears. ‘Ma’am, we’re trying our best to chase the monkeys out. We have so many security guards on the job.’ As an after thought he added ‘ Moreover, you are not the ONLY resident troubled by these monkeys. Everyone is suffering and that too for a lot longer than you.’ he concluded accusingly. Bizarrely, he seemed to suggest as though everyone else’s suffering made mine any lesser or justified the very act. This was deeply frustrating as it seemed to be the standard excuse for everything.  I couldn’t voice my concerns about any problems niggling me; be it the traffic, or corruption, or inefficiency, without being cast an accusing look and reprimanded with ‘ you’re not alone, everyone endures it’. Whilst misery does indeed love company, but it doesn’t solve any problems. Sadly, this level of complacency has resulted in the infamous ‘chalta-hai‘ attitude in India. It is a hard term to translate, as it literally means carry on or keep walking or keep going. To a certain degree it is the unquestioning acceptance of shoddiness and incompetence, whereby people simply brush it aside by sighing ‘chalta- hai’. It is a manner in which you’re meant to shrug it off, unperturbed by the nuisance it has caused and simply carry on with life.


Irritated with my morning encounter, my gaze fell upon the building across as a familiar apparition began to take shape. Was it what I thought it was?  I darted to my patio doors and cupped my hands around my eyes, peering through the glass to get a better look. There he was again, in the balcony across, bouncing on a resident’s clothesline like a trapeze artist, tugging at the clean laundry, yanking it off the clothes peg and sadistically hurtling it on to the floor. A cheeky monkey he was! A few seconds later, a little dog tore into that balcony, barking so loudly that I could hear it from across the spacious lawns that separated our buildings. The barks penetrated through our glass patio doors as realisation dawned upon me that my doors were not sound proof as we had been promised by the builder.

Meanwhile, in the absence of his masters, the valiant dog was trying desperately to chase the invader out. The barks aggravated the situation and spurred the ape on to greater mischief. Having an undue advantage over the dog, the monkey moved deftly as he skilfully swung from railing to railing teasing the dog further. The poor dog could barely stand on its two hind legs as it courageously tried to ward off the intruder. Together they created quite a hullabaloo & that must have caught the attention of the building security guards. 

Two security guards appeared on the lawns as their gaze travelled skywards to the 9th floor opposite me. They seemed to be pondering over the situation and a few moments later, two other guards appeared in the balcony below the monkey.  Waving theirs sticks up at the monkey and screaming at him proved pointless. The monkey who had probably figured out that no harm could come to him from the floor below was gloating in the attention and took to showing off his dexterity by swinging, twisting, leaping and performing other acrobatic stunts. Unable to control the situation, the guards called in for more reinforcements.

I counted 10 guards in all, in multiples of two that had enclosed the monkey from all directions. Two guards on the balcony above, two on the balcony below, two to the left and two to the right. Not to forget the two guards that were still on the lawns, who were tasked with directing the strategy of this important mission. As they barked orders on their walkie talkies, I figured that they were the central high command in a bid to ensnare the lone monkey. Armed with sticks and ropes, the guards set to work. From below, they stretched their arms out as the banged with sticks on the balcony above, barely able to reach the skirting. Meanwhile the two from above continued screaming profanities at the monkey, who didn’t seem care. The two guards from either sides had created a lasso out of their ropes and in true cowboy style were hurling it at the monkey.  Sadly, lacking in cowboy skills, the ropes missed their target each time and pitifully flopped on to the floor below.

After a point, the monkey seemed to get bored  by the charade and was busy picking the lice off it’s fur, while the dog had calmed down & retreated under the cane chair in the balcony. Undeterred, the guards tenaciously continued with the same strategy for a couple of hours to win this one-sided battle. In the end, they wearily gave up. Just as they were packing their wares and leaving, as if to add more insult to injury, the cheeky monkey cheerily bounded off the balcony and left. In this human- ape battle, the monkey had clearly won. 

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