Tuesday, March 2, 2010

About Wild Monkeys

First off, let me say I would never wish any harm to befall a monkey. They're really adorable and fascinating to watch, and monkeys provided me with the title for both my book and this blog.

That said, monkeys can't be trusted. When they're unhappy, they get cranky, and a cranky monkey is nothing to trifle with. If you don't give them what they want, they might try to steal it by stealth or force.

All of our wild monkey encounters have taken place in India and Thailand. Huge numbers of monkey families can be found at many popular tourist sites. My daughter Salome's most harrowing monkey moment occurred in Pushkar, India, on the rooftop of our hotel, where we ate breakfast each morning during our stay in that lovely city. We were feeding a group of monkeys toast and jam, and watching delightedly as they carefully licked off the jam before popping the toast into their mouths.

Then we ran out of toast. The ungrateful little buggers ran up to us, baring their teeth and hissing, forcing poor Salome to scream and hide behind a chair. (She was 9 at the time.) Fortunately, the hotel cook climbed the stairs up to the roof and shooed the monkeys away.

In Thailand, a couple of hours north of Bangkok, we visited the monkey temples in the town of Lopburi. Dozens of the pesky primates can be found at the two sites across the street from each other, and visitors can buy lotus flowers and seeds to feed them. But it's not only food they're after - Ava and I wrestled with monkeys that tried to steal my sunglasses and one of her earrings. I watched one aggressive male wait patiently as a man walked toward him carrying his lunch in a Styrofoam container. Just as the man reached his perch, the monkey lunged and screeched and nearly made off with the package.

The title of this blog, and my forthcoming book about our family's world travels, was inspired by a sign on the door of a ladies' room halfway between Delhi and Agra, India. We had stopped for breakfast on our way to visit the Taj Mahal, and the monkeys gathered around our bus, begging for food and intimidating the passengers.

So, the next time you run across a bunch of wild monkeys, enjoy their company, but beware - they just might try to run off with your lunch, or your valuables!

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