heart iconheart icon
Health & Wellness
Now -About That Monkey…

Ok, I know this has NOTHING to do with Johnson & Johnson, health care or the price of beans, but I just had to pass it along...

(For more on Johnson & Johnson's operations in India, see my previous posts here and here...)

I had one day to myself in Mumbai before my flight home to New Jersey, and, after consulting a guidebook, I decided to visit Elephanta Island - which is a 45 minute journey by steamer from the Gateway to India in Mumbai.

Covered with a dense forest and devoid of any large scale modern construction, Elephanta Island was a welcome reprieve from the crowded and (thanks to the predilection of Mumbai taxi drivers to lean on their horns) noisy streets of Mumbai. Once off the boat, I took a short walk up about 200 stone steps to the site of ancient Hindu temples carved into the basalt rock that formed the island. A UNESCO site, the main temple “cave” is dedicated to Shiva, and includes magnificent tableaus depicting an assortment of tales about the diety.

A remarkable site - and well worth the 200 Rupee boat ride. When leaving the cave, I noticed a family of monkeys sitting on a fence rail overlooking a ravine, and thought it would be a nice shot for my daughter. As I fumbled with my camera, the male in the group - as big as a cocker spaniel -- came towards me, snarling and showing his teeth. Next thing I knew, he was jumping at me, trying to grab my water bottle. I shook him off to peels of laughter from the other tourists.

I shrugged it off and proceeded on my way -- but upon my return I could see my attacker waiting for me in a pack of monkeys some way off. He caught my eye, and made a running assault, weaving between the other tourists. This time he successfully planted himself on my arm and made a play for my water bottle. That, however, made it a bit easier to avoid his teeth when I flung him off, which I did with great alacrity. The women near me, some in beautiful saris, laughed politely.

Why me? Why my water bottle? I still don’t know, but I have some suspicions.

I’m a simple Midwesterner at heart -- and have often been accused of being too "nice." For instance, while waiting for the boat to depart Mumbai, I foolishly forgot the fine art of haggling and and ended up buying a guide book to the island for a 200 percent mark-up. I suspect the guy knew he had a live one when he first laid his eyes on me -- a suspicion reinforced by the fact that he didn’t even bother approaching the other passengers.

Seeing me lolloping along -- water bottle in one hand and camera in the other -- perhaps the monkey also had me pegged as an easy mark. I'm just glad he didn't go for my camera...

PS -- Coincidentally, CNN had a piece today on another monkey problem -- this one in New Delhi.