Most of us are acquainted with the beautiful city of “Darjeeling” traced in the Indian state of West Bengal, by the Himalayan foothills popular for its summer resorts, tea farmsteads, tall peaks and scenic beauty. But this city has something else too, not uncanny but certainly captured in all the cameras that ever stopped at the city, that is the plethora of diverse clans of monkeys found in every single corner across the entire city. And this tale certainly revolves around them…
After an impressive stay at Manali and having scaled the splendid snowy heights of Rohtang Pass, the next stopover was Darjeeling. It was early morning when we checked in for a few days, into an exciting great hotel with cliquey but undoubtedly beautiful rooms. I vividly remember, standing in the veranda of the room, gazing into the never ending expanse of towering green trees touching the altitudes of the beautiful blue sky, as the cold wind brushed my face. The view was enchanting, to say the least.
Nevertheless, little did we know that though the morning bequeathed us with amity, afternoon had its own set of mayhem well thought-out for us. It was late afternoon when Riddhi (my twin) and I were playing noiselessly in our room with mother by our side, having her peaceful nap. This was the stint when we overheard our first set of ‘Thad Thad’ like a slim door bang which we overlooked absolutely because, in our opinion then, our game was rather more important to play. But then again came another ‘Thad Thad’ and then one more (a bit more intense), for us to finally leave our game unfinished and go on to discover that person – OUR GAME INTRUDER!!
It was swiftly then that we saw this monkey behind the clear glass doors of veranda eyeing constantly and seriously at us with the nonstop bangs on the door. It was a medium-sized young brown monkey with black jaws and a long twisted tail. Well, as we call ourselves ‘THE HEROIC ONES’, Riddhi and I quickly went to shoo the monkey away from our side of the glass door so that mother’s sleep remained undisturbed. But just as my sibling had my back, I guesstimate, the other monkeys had the culprit’s back, two of whom hastily joined the intruder monkey and started pounding the door more intensely.
It quite gave us a feeling of ‘OPEN WAR ON US BY MONKEYS’; but based on our previous experience, what we were truly terrified, at the moment, was our mother’s sleep getting disturbed. And guess what, it did happen! She woke up, woke up with the brash yell “uhhhh.. What are you girls up to? Stop making the silly loud noise” – attending to which we quickly spun around, took a deep breath and instead of explaining it all, we swiftly moved sideways for her to see the ongoing MONKEYS’ RAMPAGE. Though we could comprehend by her look, how mad she was at us, we realised it would be a lost cause to clarify that it wasn’t our fault. Thereafter, rapidly she roused to team our mob and joined us in banging the door from our side. It was only after a moment or two that we grasped that the monkeys had a concealed army somewhere from which 4 or 5 more monkeys joined their cause.
It would be incorrect on my part to say that, by this time, we weren’t frightened, frightened that they are going to break pass the glass door and bout us. But that was only Riddhi and I. My mother, on the contrary, battled like the tough empress who denied giving in to the monkeys and, using her swift instincts, nippily gripped something and began to startle the monkeys. And I am not definite if it was the fright of the object or my mother, but the monkeys started to back off and run away.
However, the story doesn’t end there. The intruder monkey, who instigated it all, had no concord in itself and came up with a different ploy. It started to tug off the red track-pant of Riddhi, hanging on a chair in the veranda, as if it knew that they were Riddhi’s favourite pair of pants at the time. With the ceaseless struggle of dragging off the pants from chair with its petite hands, the monkey gave the impression that it was firm to take the pant along with itself. It was not at all a choice for us to let it take away the pants as one could literally sense the weeping eyes of Riddhi over the feeling of losing her beloved pants.
At this moment, each of us knew, the only way to save the pants was passage into the opposite terrain and scaring that nasty monkey with rather harsh looks and vigour. It was time to gulp down our fear and showcase some real courage. That’s when we had to finally open the glass doors, enter the enemy-encroached territory and start terrifying the monkey in its close proximity. The first minute or two were rather nauseating where it seemed like we were failing but then unbelievably the monkey finally took off, took off with nothing but a futile attempt to win from us! Aah, and this feeling of “YAY, WE WON!”
And yes there was this something that we saw; it was rather an astonishingly amusing sight, the sight of hundreds of monkeys hopping from one tree to another, playing and swinging and this sight was the only thing visible for as far as the naked eye could see. It was a happy feeling, feeling of victory and amusement which can be relived even today after 8 long years since the incident… Undeniably, all of us have tales endorsing monkeys, and this was our little story. It was indeed a memorable episode from amongst the best travel diaries at which, even today, we laugh, something so crazy and heroic then, but utterly comical some today…