Stories from the Road is a collection of stories about my own photographic adventures in South Asia. Sometimes the stories are exciting and sometimes mundane and at times emotional. This section deals with vernacular photography and the way we all experience the photographs we see. What they meant when we took them and what they mean over time.
The Monkey’s During My Final Days in Udaipur
For the last year I lived in Udaipur. Unfortunately my last days in Udaipur did not work out how I would hoped, as I had planned on being in India much longer. However, towards the end of this journey everything started to go sideways. In addition to work related things not coming to fruition and relationships coming undone, the monkey’s began to terrorize the house I was living in. Oh the monkeys, they are so cute when they are over in the trees but when they enter your home it is another matter.
About two months ago, Meropi and I arrived at the house and opened the door to a horrifying scene. Our house was a tradition style haveli meaning the rooms are situated around an open courtyard. The house is three stories high and there is not a roof to cover the opening on the top. On this particular day, we opened the door to see one of the potted plants knocked over while leaves and monkey feces covered the floor. It looked like wild animals had been let loose and basically they had.
Our thoughts quickly moved to question whether the monkey’s had gotten in my room or not. The room I had has two openings through which animals or humans can enter if they choose to. A cat had already thrown up on my bed twice. As the thought of the room comes to our minds I rush up the steps to unlock the door. As I begin to push the door open it is instantly obvious the monkeys had been there as a blanket and pillows were pushed up against the door. As I tell Meropi they had gone in the room, she says something about her computer. Her desktop computer was in the room on a desk. The monkeys did knock the computer over, however it landed on the desk chair and escaped being demolished. My camera was also sitting on a shelf but it had not been knocked off. Unfortunately, the room was covered in shit and a little urine and papers littered the floor. The walls were also covered in dirty monkey prints. The whole scene was unbelievable.
From that day on the monkey’s entered the room about once a week. Gross. We had asked the owner of the house to do something to close the room. A bamboo screen had been ordered but it took weeks to arrive. It finally arrived a few days before I left and the carpenter had made it too big, so when I left Udaipur the room was still open.
Though the monkeys were unpleasant and made for some difficult days, have not fear, I look forward to my return to South Asia. I still need to explore South India and far Northern India further. I also desperately want to visit Orchha. Sri Lanka remains unexplored and Nepal is always calling my name. However, in the future I will stay in places that are completely closed in so I do not have to deal with monkeys in my room.
Throughout those last weeks in Udaipur the monkeys destroyed multiple things in the room including two hanging candle holders and a ceramic table hand-made by the owner of the house. The cushion covers had to be washed ever time the monkey showed up and the room had to be deep cleaned each time from the monkey waste.
Not only was it unnerving for the monkeys to destroy the room and the courtyard, just them hanging around the house made you want to run for cover. The second to last time the monkeys had been in the house one returned while Meropi and I were cleaning the room. She came walking down the stairs and was going to walk right into the room. She was aggressive with us. Meropi hit her with a metal cup and she left, thank god. The house became a prison as you had to always be on the look out for the monkeys. Being at home in the middle of the day was stressful. I could not take a nap, I could not hangout in my room and I could not watch any TV programs as I had to be listening for the monkeys.
It was truly like a fantasy turning into a nightmare. I will miss so many other things about Udaipur but I will not miss the monkeys. For the time being I am so grateful that monkeys are not native to North America.