Posted by: roamingolivia | August 18, 2010

How a monkey ate my notebook

This happened a few days ago, but I haven’t really written about it because I’m lazy and for once in my life have decided not to blog or check email much. This means I am thinking a lot about emails and the internet, and I can’t tell if it is more or less than I would otherwise be thinking.

So, when we were in Shimla, there were a lot of monkeys. Basically everywhere there were monkeys. Our various guidebooks (we ended up with 2 guidebooks written by local people, which had amazing descriptions full of hilarity and sagacity) said we should be careful about the monkeys, and avoid carrying food that they could see. Also they warned against looking directly at the monkeys. We weren’t really walking around with food much, and for a few days the monkeys were pretty normal.

Then, one morning, we saw a monkey climb up into the front of a kiosk and grab a handful of candy, and scamper off with it. The guys running the stall basically yelled at it but stayed away.

This was probably an omen. Later that day, we hit the Lower Bazar Road (pictures to follow) to check out the market, and I bought a notebook/journal thing – fabric-covered and red – to write in (weirdly, I did not bring a journal on this trip). We had a charming conversation with the man who put it in a little bag made of old newspapers. He was 90, and he had moved there from Pakistan around the time of the partition, and he had opened his shop in I think 1950. He was adorable, and smiley, and very proud of his shop – which essentially had stacks of notebooks from a time – possibly still in existence in Shimla – when all accounts were done using paper and a calculator.

As we walked home, we decided to take another way above the town, because I thought I knew where we were. I didn’t really, and it was a pretty deserted road. I saw a couple of monkeys, an older one and (her) baby. The older one looked at my package, and started coming over. David was ahead, and hadn’t really noticed this, but turned around to see a monkey approaching me and me asking what I should do. He thought she had gotten afraid for her baby, but I knew that she was after my newspaper-wrapped package, which she assumed to be something tasty.

She came up and started pulling on my notebook. I tried to pull it away, but she bared her teeth and I left the $3 notebook go. She took it away, to the top of the road, where I could still see her, and set about opening the newspaper. I took a couple pictures of her, but then a man carrying a huge pile of carboard on his back came by, saw the monkey reading and tasting the notebook, and put down his cardboard. He yelled at the monkey and threw a green apple away from the notebook. The monkey went for that, I picked up my notebook (now sporting a few tooth marks), and the business card of the 90-year-old man’s shop. I thanked the man with the cardboard and laughed, and we went on our ways.



  1. Good story. Bad monkey.

  2. Thank you for relating your adventure with the shopkeeper, the naughty monkey, and the good Samaritan. Now your $3 notebook is priceless.

  3. […] way. I am not very navigationally inclined, so David made a mistake in following me, and then the whole monkey-notebook thing happened (see the link for the whole […]

  4. i like your story is it really true

  5. […] there were riots and flooding, but then we went to Delhi and Shimla or Simla (where a monkey ate my notebook) and then to Rajasthan (Jodhpur and […]

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