One of the reasons I like India is that I have never been robbed, mugged or even badly ripped off here. I have found all 1.16 billion Indians to be nice, honest folk.
All that changed this week. I was the victim of a planned attack by a local family who decided my 50% deet insect repellent would be of value to them (it’s not available in India so I see their point). On the day of the robbery they even brought a new mother along with her infant to help out:
When I first moved into my hotel last week the owner warned me of the local monkey population. Despite many social inclusion programs the state government has put in place here in Shimla, this minority group continue to live on the margins and are the main cause of petty crime in this hill resort. Shimla, by the way, is a very pretty little spot. This is the view from my hotel;
It was all fun and games to begin with; cute little monkey climbed up on my windowsill. Our eyes met. He was clearly an angry monkey. While jumping away this was the only photo I could get of the incident;
The monkey took my repellent and put it just out of my reach on the roof outside my window. I took some time to think about strategies to retrieve the spray. I walked around town and got confirmation that they do not sell that kind of thing in India (deet is bad for the mosquitos’ health). The only way I was going to be protected from the disease -filled bugs was to go retrieve my bottle from the monkeys.
For that, I created this:
When I returned home three hours laters, armed with my mops, the repellent was still where the monkey had left it and the unruly monkey family seemed to have left. Just as I lowered my mops out the window the whole family came galloping back into my part of town. One little fella made a dash for the bottle:
When it’s all over Baby Monkey runs away with the evidence
I thought that was the end of that when the monkeys had finished feasting on my impossible-to-buy-in-India insect repellent.
The next time I looked out my window I had some severely ill monkeys as neighbours, all looking at me like I had poisoned them (I had shouted some warnings earlier but they didn’t listen). At first I thought they were dead monkeys, but no, just a bit hungover after their deet high.
Note how the original thief (far left) tries to make me feel guilty with his eyes:
In Ireland we’d just have had another bottle of insect repellent the next day to cure the effects of the first bottle. These monkeys didn’t seem to like that idea…
But at least none of the little buggers died. And I finally got another bottle of deet when a kind American lady called Frances gave me her spare bottle. I’m all set to tackle the crazy mosquitoes of North East India. At least they don’t have crazy monkeys there.