Saturday, July 14, 2007

Monkeytown

I'm in Shimla, the old summer capital of the Raj, and loving it.


The net cafe shuts in fifteen minutes so here is a brief rundown of stuff so far:

Bad times

- Sitting between a guy who stank of urine and another with an intruding elbow on the plane. And right behind a screeching baby. Trifecta!
- Oh, and struggling to lower the faulty footrest and then getting racially insulted in Hindi by the (British Indian) girl in front. I resisted the temptation to say anything.
- A ten hour bus ride in a semi-concious state after not getting any sleep on the plane. Falling asleep and banging my head on the seat in front!

Good times

- Meeting a girl on the bust who used to live just off Seven Dials, literally metres from our place! I never expected to have an in-depth discussion of the relative advantages of my local Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose in India!
- Drama at Jakhu Mandir, the monkey temple. As you approach you pass stalls hiring monkey whacking sticks, then a popcorn vendor yelling out 'monkey fruit le lo' who was claiming that food would give you immunity against attack (yeah, right!). Then seeing a monkey jumping on a tough, moustached man (in possession of 'monkey fruit' who started screaming 'save me, save me!'. Note the monkey scarer in the photo below:


- Touring the Vice-Regal Lodge and seeing the table where Mountbatten etc. sat to arrange partition. Incredible! And then having the tour guide offer English translation and hearing the sharp intake of breath (by the group of thirty) when I told her I already understood. Showing off can be so much fun!


Shimla is an incredibly gorgeous place and packed with local tourists. That makes for a lot of fun people watching (esp when monkeys are involved) but I'm heading off tomorrow morning for smaller towns higher in the Himalaya. I think there should be net access in a couple of places so I'm hoping to post again soon. And I'll add photos when I get home.

5 comments:

Knuffy's Owner said...

Those monkeys sound hilarious!! Did you hire a whacking stick?!

I know that sharp intake of breath really well - when Sea Bass declares he speaks Chinese, and when I declare I speak German (which isn't even that impressive when you think about it.)

"...a girl on the bust..." Is that a Freudian slip?

Iqbal Khaldun said...

Sounds like you're already off to an exciting adventure, yay! Expect plenty of pics.

You should've said something to that cow sitting in front of you in the plane hehe.

dimsumdolly said...

Re "bust": I was about to ask the same question as Knuffy's Owner. You know us ESL teachers (cum editor for me) are always very sharp-eyed! Heehee.

j a s o n said...

Bust-ed!!

Glad you are having what sounds like an amazing adventure Joe. Look forward to reading more! Keep the blogging up!

Meanwhile K & I have been walking for 5 hours a day in NYC in the quest for consumer nirvana, and even up hills in the pouring rain in Quebec! Amazing, but true. K seems to love the exercise, I am taking the silence to mean an appreciation of being with one with nature...

Joe said...

Oh dear! Now I can't edit it either!

I didn't get a monkey whacking stick. My confident pace (and the fact that I didn't have any monkey fruit) did the trick just fine.

Jason, that sounds like the wisest assumption hehehe...