Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monkey Fight!

In general, I feel very safe at Woodstock. Though there are occasional break-ins, cases of violence are almost non-existent. This morning, however, I was genuinely scared.

Having been here a few weeks, I no longer wake up to the morning sounds of monkeys (who sounds a lot like birds). They typically wake up at about 5am and swing through trees, jump on the tin roofs, and chatter back and forth. In almost every case, it is the Rhesus monkey that I hear. They are much more common (and troublesome) than the larger (but calmer) Languor.

At about 6am this morning I woke up to screaming monkeys. Like I said, I'm used to monkey noise, but this was so loud I woke up genuinely startled. With all of my windows open, the grunts, shrieks, and screams sounded as if they were in my apartment. Half asleep, I had visions of monkeys bursting through my window screens and ransacking my apartment. If you've ever looked wild monkeys in the eyes, you would know what I mean when I say that they are capable of plotting. I really wouldn't put it past them to break into a house.

Some of the onlookers. View from my (dirty) apartment window.

Once I fully woke up, I walked over to peek out. The energy and anger in the group was frightening (think Wizard of Oz). I didn't have a good view of the actual fight, but I had a clear view of the nervous onlookers. I could see probably 20 monkeys watching what I presume to be an alpha-male fight between two packs. In total, I wouldn't be surprised if there were 50 or 60 monkeys in the area. I tried to take photos, but they didn't turn out well. Mostly because I was too scared to make myself visible. (Rhesus monkeys are notorious for jumping at you when provoked by eye contact or a camera.)

The fight broke up (or at least relocated) when the head barrer-ji (janitor) walked out with a brick in hand. Adult men can usually scare the monkeys off, while women and children are less effective. I was impressed with his bravery and effectiveness!

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