Friday, June 1, 2012

Monkey See and Monkey Do

In those days, the country was still young and humble. So were its monkeys. The little rhesus monkeys who had made South Block their base minded their own business, steering clear of the babus who hustled files up and down the august corridors.

In later years, as the country assumed its natural role as the leader of the developing world, some of its confidence rubbed off on the primates.

They became increasingly aggressive. If India’s talks with its neighbour, usually Pakistan, were not to their liking, they swung down from the trees and screeched their disapproval. Occasionally, they lay in wait for the under secretary drafting the final communiqué and dropped a large object – a flowerpot or a brick – on his head. If a file included a decision to which they objected, they snatched it from the babu’s hands, strewing its contents all over the floor.

As long as they picked on the small fry, the mayhem proceeded uninterrupted. Unfortunately, they became ambitious. Bored with pulling out power cords of office desktops and snatching lunch-boxes from passing attendants, they headed off to Rashtrapati Bhavan to check out the scene in the most prominent address in the country.

That was a gross error of judgment. The Government was compelled to deal with this threat to its internal security. A team of langurs was recruited to police and control the smaller-sized simians. Their reward - a monthly salary paid in luscious yellow bananas.

Read more about the mokey business that erupted in Goa just before and soon after its Liberation from Portugal and its joining India as New Delhi had just completed one war (Goa's Liberation) while about to be dragged in another (the India-China conflict) in

Short Takes Long Memories by Prabhakar Kamat and Sharmila Kamat