Today I was attacked by a large male monkey. Ahem. Yes.
I was at the Dalai Lama temple with my friend, Sierra. We were being quite pious, walking around to the various Buddha shrines, pressing our hands before our hearts, and generally behaving quite well.
After wandering around for awhile, I had to use the loo. I left Sierra at the giant Green Tara altar, and followed the signs to the toilets. This being India, there were four stalls available, all of which were endowed with dirty squatter toilets. Three of the doors were closed, so I swung open the door to the only available toilet. Stepping inside, I noticed a very large turd that hadn’t been flushed. I stood there for a moment, debating whether or not to fill up the large bucket with water, and then hand flush the turd myself. I decided I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and so stepped outside instead. Just then, a large commotion began taking place on the roof.
I stepped to the rail, and looked down. On the tin roof just below, a large monkey had attacked a small monkey, jumping onto its back and causing quite an uproar. All of the monkeys began shrieking and jumping around. As I watched, an Australian man appeared behind me. He was also on his way to use the toilet, but had gotten caught up in the monkey drama. The next three seconds unfolded in slow motion.
As soon as the man appeared, I made eye contact with a large brown monkey. In that moment, the monkey took a bounding leap in my direction and came hurtling over the rail that separated our narrow outdoor corridor from the tin roof he had been playing on. The next thing I knew, he was attacking the back of my leg, pulling on my purse, and shrieking.
In my surprise, I tried to pull my purse over my head so that he would let go of me and go after the purse. Unfortunately, I had a scarf around my neck, and the purse got caught in the scarf, momentarily blinding me and knocking the sunglasses off my head. I was aware of the monkey’s claws sliding down the back of my thigh, but luckily, they didn’t tear through my pants. I was also aware of the Australian man screaming and hitting the monkey.
Moments later, the monkey disengaged himself from my leg, and the man and I ran through the gate that separated the toilet corridor from the inner temple. The man slammed the gate behind us, just as the monkey flung himself at us again.
It was rather intense.
Luckily, I sustained no serious injuries, save for a rapidly beating heart that took a long time to calm down.
Here’s a tip to any of you who ever find yourselves in monkey country: Do not make eye contact, and do not show your teeth. As the Lonely Planet says: Making eye contact, or smiling at a monkey is the equivalent of bearing your fists and saying “Bring it on!”
I learned the hard way 😉