Archive | August, 2013

monkeys in the kitchen

13 Aug

This is the story you’ve all been waiting for. I apologize for the fact that monkeys were in my kitchen almost two months ago and most of you are only now hearing the story. However, in those almost two months, I told this story many, many times, both in English and in Hindi, so I hope that I have perfected its telling.

First, let me set the scene: it is 6 AM on a Saturday morning in Mussoorie, a small town in northern India nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. I, a student at the Landour Language School, am deep into the REM cycle, as is any good student on a Saturday morning. And this is where it all starts…

I am awakened from my glorious weekend sleep by a loud knock on the door. I groan loudly to let my uninvited guest know that I am alive but very unhappy at this early morning intrusion. From the other side of the door, I hear a familiar voice saying, “Audrey?”

Raju. Of course. I groan again. The South Indian rubber plantation manager who was also studying Hindi at my language school. His awkwardness was notorious, and it was not at all out of character for him to come to my guesthouse and wake me up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning to re-confirm a pre-confirmed plan to visit a temple on a hill in a neighboring village with a few mutual friends later on in the day. Without leaving my bed, I tell him that yes I am still coming, no I haven’t changed my decision since yesterday when you saw me in the bazaar, yes I am still sleeping, yes I would like to sleep some more so I will talk to you later. Finally he leaves, and I close my eyes and snuggle back into bed, where I am only able to fall into a half-sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, my half-sleep becomes a not-at-all-sleep when I hear a crashing noise coming from the kitchen. I assume that it is Seema, the tiny, happy Indian woman who cooks breakfast. But after a few seconds pass, I realize that this is not the case, unless Seema has taken to making screeching sounds and using pans as percussive instruments. My hazy, still-sleepy mind is forced to come to terms with the hard truth: that there are monkeys in my kitchen. Raju had not locked the door when he left and the furry little troublemakers seized the opportunity to wreak havoc in the kitchen of the guesthouse.

For a minute I consider going back to sleep, pretending I heard nothing, and avoiding the problem entirely. But I climb out of bed and creep to my door, pressing an ear against it. Yep, definitely monkeys. Up until this point, I have gone out of my way to not have monkey stories or any interaction with them at all, because they scare me with their sharp teeth and people-ish faces and the fact that they have hands. Now it seems that I have no choice but to wage an epic battle against them, except for one small problem– the door to my room is located between the front door of the guesthouse (i.e. the only exit) and the monkey-infested kitchen. If I come out of my room, I will be leaving an unknown number of monkeys cornered with no way out except through me. Also, I will be weaponless, as I have no objects in my room with which I would be able to fend off monkeys.

Again considering climbing back into bed and deferring this responsibility to someone else, I turn and walk across my room to the wall opposite from the door. On the other side of this wall lived Henrik, a Swedish language school veteran who had lived/studied in Mussoorie since February. He had had his fair share of monkey encounters, most recently being a cheeky monkey stealing an entire jar of Nutella right from his windowsill. Forgetting basic grammar rules of subject-verb agreement in the excitement of the situation, I bang on his wall and shout, “Henrik, there’s monkeys in the kitchen!” Through the wall, I hear a sleepy and confused, “What?”

Eventually, Henrik the fierce Viking warrior gets out of bed and saves the day using a cricket bat and projectile tennis shoes. From my room I can hear the screeches of frightened monkeys running down the stairs and eventually fading into the outside world where they belong. I open my door (camera in hand, of course) to survey the crime scene that is my kitchen.

The monkeys had dusted their own prints using most of a bag of white flour.

The monkeys had dusted their own prints using most of a bag of white flour.

The rest of that bag of flour is carried to the roof across from my window, where the monkeys continue to chow down.

The rest of that bag of flour is carried to the roof across from my window, where the monkeys continue to chow down.

The monkeys faces are all covered in flour, causing them to appear to be abusers of some illegal substance.

The monkeys faces are all covered in flour, causing them to appear to be abusers of some illegal substance.

However, the day has not been completely saved. This is the final scene of the scary movie when you think everything is going to be okay until something pops out at you right at the last minute. The door leading outside had a hand-sized hole so that a human could lock and unlock the door from both the inside and outside. Now that the monkeys were aware that we were in possession of delicious white flour, they wanted nothing more than a way in. And when you’re a small hungry monkey, a hand-sized hole is a small obstacle in the quest for food. So be warned, bags of white flour in the kitchens of Mussoorie. You think you are safe in the kitchen? Think again. Somebody’s watching you.

The End...

The End…

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