Monkey Business

When soya sauce saved the day

Samit Basu Updated: Aug 30, 2019 12:59:31 IST
Monkey Business Raju Epuri

It's monkey season in Delhi again, which means walking on the streets is rendered additionally challenging. You have to keep your eyes on walls and balconies to spot fast-moving or lurking shapes while simultaneously trying not to trip on the intricate trap-maze that is the average Indian street. There are two kinds of people when it comes to urban Indian monkeys. The first display enviable calm, chatting with them or not even acknowledging their presence and just going about their business--perhaps they cannot distinguish between Delhi's monkeys and its humans. I am the other kind. I love monkeys only in fiction and amusing internet videos.

I've had four home invasions, and a tug-of-war over food that ended badly for the whole street, so my monkey-story standards are high. I'm sharing the latest one, not because it features special slapstick hilarity, but because it made me question everything about myself, and taught me life lessons.

I step out of my bedroom to find, in my living room, three monkeys having a panel discussion. Upon seeing me, they exchange glances, and approach me with steely glints in their eyes. This was their home now, they say; I was the interloper. Displaying the derring-do that I am famous for, I retreat quietly into my bedroom and lock the door.

Step One: I try calling my Top People for advice. Network is poor, as always, but not as poor as I feel when they do not take my calls. They are all busy overachievers and are out there conquering the world.

Life Lesson One: Keep a few friends with spare time on their hands.

Outside, the monkeys start making thumping and dragging sounds. They are rearranging the furniture, possibly beginning large-scale construction.

Step Two: I ask social media what I should do, and immediately receive fantastic tips. I should have locked my balcony door better. I should call a “langur man”--excellent advice, but, unfortunately, I did not have such stalwarts on my contacts list and later found out the monkey catchers have largely been driven out of work, making the overall monkey situation much worse. My timelines had more advice: I should post photos. I deserved it, I was a bad person. Would I like to buy their books while I waited?

Life Lesson Two: Do not ask questions on social media. The monkeys have actively started banging on my door now.

Step Three: I do more research using my expert methods--how to get rid of monkeys, I Google. I find monkeys are distracted by shiny objects; I have none handy and I don't see the point of going outside to distract them. Monkeys don’t like it when you make direct eye contact with them, or smile at them. Thank you, great database of all human knowledge, I was not planning to.

Finally, I find a solution. Monkeys are scared of roaring tigers. And I happened to have one handy in my bedroom. Fine, I didn't, but there was YouTube. A search for 'roaring tiger' leads me to a video thumbnailed with an amazing, loud-looking tiger. I wait and watch for five agonizing minutes the video of a tiger roaming around his cage, stubbornly silent, as kids with American accents shout ''He’s not roaring, mommy!'' I feel their pain. Eventually, I make do with a video of a barking dog, at full volume.

No results. The only hope I had at this point was another tip saying monkeys get bored quickly and move on. So I continued doing what I do best: nothing.

The monkeys left eventually, thanks either to boredom or the soya sauce they had found in the fridge and drunk. They clearly hadn't liked it, and had expressed this by liberally distributing it around the house and breaking the bottle.

Life Lesson Three (and this is a big one): Always keep soya sauce in the house, even if you don't plan on using it. You never know when it might save your hide.


Samit Basu has been writing novels for the past 15 years. Dropping out of the coveted Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad to write the first part of his bestselling fantasy series, The GameWorld Trilogy, Basu went on to author the international award-winning speculative novels Turbulence and Resistance, and a children's series, The Adventures of Stoob.

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