Thursday, September 23, 2004

monkey island

monkey, originally uploaded by seamonkeylifeboat.

A few weeks back (we'll be all discontinuous time stream 'til we catch up) we took a day trip to Elephanta, an island off the coast of Mumbai (which originally was made up of islands anyway). Very touristy. You take a ferry from the Gateway of India, a big showy structure the British built to recieve some royalty I can't remember, and climb long stone stairways through a gauntlet of bamboo and blue tarp tourist stalls trying to sell you the same stuff you see in chinatown in SF. The draw is the buddhist caves carved out of the rock of the island, but they're in pretty bad condition for the most part. It's always impressive when people use hand tools to carve magnificent statues and columns and chambers from solid rock, but it's kinda depressing when they're broken down and shot apart by armies and have peoples names carved in their chests. Not the point of this story, though. This story is about MONKEYS. I'd only seen a few since we got here, either cruising through garbage dumps or walking down the street on leashes so Elephanta was a bounty of monkeys beyond belief. A few strolled by near the first caves, but it's up by the viewpoint that they really show their forces. I tried to take pictures and movies of every one at first, overcome by monkeyhappiness. As I was filming a female and her babies a male walked up and climbed on her back and I realized that to the eyes of the nice Indian families nearby I was filming monkeyporn. I swear it was accidental! There were monkeys leaping in the trees, monkees sprawled on railings, monkeys walking next to you holding tiny babies and staring up hopefully....At the end of the paved viewpoint there were several tough looking older women who would scream, "Monkey! Banana!" repeatedly at you if you came near. I lingered there captivated by a puppy by my feet and the monkeymom holding a tiny baby that was especially good at looking sad and cute until, feeling touristy-silly but having to do it, I bought a banana. As I turned back around with my banana the old lady I'd bought it from shot the puppy between my feet with a slingshot to make it go away, causing it to dart out squealing and almost trip me, and the monkeymom, baby clutching her stomach fur, leaped straight up at me about 4 feet in the air to try and grab the banana. I didn't really get a second to recover before I realized that the whole scene had taken on an ominous air, all monkeys in the nearest 20 feet were slowly advancing towards me with focused intent and glittering eyes, some big scary males included.... beyond my banana's sphere of influence I realized that other tourists were being chased by monkeys so that they'd drop their bananas or throw them in fear. There was no cute holding out of banana pieces to be gently received by clever monkey paws and fed to their strange wrinkled babies - these monkeys knew when to use their cuteness and when to whip out the creepy scary factor to their best advantage.
And so my dreams that all the people who told me that monkeys are freaky and scary were wrong in some way, that they just didn't have the right animal understanding to soothe and calm the monkeys and make friends, that I was special and the monkeys would sense my supreme inner peace and become my unholy army of the night.... dashed. Gotta go to plan 2.
maybe lemurs?


Blogger primco said...

Monkey's like, "You fucking human, you think you got so many more brain cells than me? Well I got news for you. I'm not afraid of you. And you know what? I'll walk right up to you and take your fucking wallet out of your stupid-ass khaki shorts. I GOT NOTHING TO LOOSE. That's right. Don't look me in the eyes motherfucker 'cause I get primal pissed. You look at me like you're all more evolved than me and I just wanna tear your fucking eyes out you piece of shit. Gimme that Coke! Yeah, I'm thirsty motherfucker! It's dry around these stupid old caves."

1:08 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I don't think you are seeing a representive sample of monkeys. You are just seeing the ones corrupted by the unrelenting lure of tourist-held bananas. I mean shit, if I was a monkey in that environment, you know I'd do whatever it took to get as many bananas as possible. Those things are tasty.

7:47 AM  

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