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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

What Do Monkeys Want? - Page 4

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We left the cottage and our walks only three times.  Twice to go to Shimla, the former British capital, where we bought spices in the fascinating Lower Bazaar and dodged monkeys that were like gymnasts on the wires, poles, and banisters.  Another time we left to go to Wildflower Hall.

I had been reading about Wildflower Hall for years: Built on the site of a home belonging to Lord Kitchener, commander in chief of the British army in India from 1902-1909, the property, now owned by The Oberoi Group, seemed in photos to be a fairytale castle out of “Lost Horizon.”

I had not known that the hotel was literally less than half a mile up a steep hill behind our cottage.  We climbed, walking past a tiny school for elementary age children, past two water buffalo ready to be snapped in photos for tourists, and then onto a long drive across the street from several dhaba (roadside cafes) where snacks and teas are sold.

P1130175Wildflower was intense: Exquisite, honeymoon heaven, with a bar that had a blazing fire and ice-cold gin, a restaurant with savory lamb dishes and great breads, a pool that was therapeutic, and staff who, like so many lucky enough to have jobs in India, appeared to take a personal interest in guests.

In the garden of the hotel, en route to the gazebo, I came across two monkeys on the path.  I clapped my hands to shoo them away.  They stayed put.  To add to it, a much larger monkey appeared, and not quite grinning, bared its teeth and leaned back as if to pounce.

I ran.

Back in the room of the hotel, I should have heeded the sign and broadened its application: “Please keep the windows closed during the day to safeguard your belongings from monkeys.”

Two other confrontations with monkeys took place.

Once walking past a school for the deaf near Wildflower, a huge Himalayan Macaque, darker than the rhesus we’d seen before, chased my wife for a bit before retreating and after having made his territorial point.

Another time we woke to the sound of half a dozen monkeys on the roof of the cottage: Screeching and pounding, they were agitated because they were being pursued by The Monkey Man.

What do monkeys want?  Food, warmth, love, security, companionship, decent but not too aggressive IRA growth, bananas – things we all want, but they also want to be left alone.

Me, too.

©Scott Haas

Violet Hill, the property we rented, is available by contacting:

Anita Gurnani, Format Travel,

Or: Mr. Prabdip Singh: 011-91-09815442233.

Wildflower Hall:


And don’t think the monkeys want to be your new best friends.  They can be very aggressive!

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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