Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pretty much the best blog post ever

In Which We Say Goodbye to a Monkey, and...well, 
that's it
We have monkeys. They're everywhere, and cute, but pesky. They 'enjoy one another' or 'enjoy themselves' when they think anyone's looking, they bite and remember their antagonists, and without the dogs they would swarm the house. One ate the buttons off my favorite buttondown this
 week, but I bought it from Penney's for $10 in 1996, so it had a good and long life, and can probably be repaired for a quarter at the local tailors.
Anyway, off we were yesterday, and we reached the corner and were about to go past the tea stalls at the end of the road and out to the main world. A word on those: these are three tiny little shops frequented by lots of men who pee all over the place and generally lurk around being inactive. They stare at us as we drive past. There's an overflowing dumpster. The stalls themselves are, um, sub-sanitary. They all sell paan and cigarettes too. We call them 'the sketchy chai shops,' and until we got the new wider car, were consciously avoiding them--but the Ambassador [see above!] is too big to go through the back alley, so we are SOL.
Anyway, on our way past, a bigger than usual crowd was fruitlessly milling about, and looking up, and so I did too. A small monkey--big enough to be independent, but very much still adolescent--had jumped from a roof onto the power wires, and there he stayed. Birds can stand on power wires, but when you grab two of them with hands and feet I think it does more than just complete a circuit. Our laundry-ist later said, 'Oh yeah, he just fell right down dead,' and I said, 'heck no, he was hanging there.' This was sad, except that the monkeys are pesty, and in prolific abundance. Probably from all that PDA in paragraph 1. They really are dangerous, too.
No matter, I went and did my biz, and went home. Then, a bit later some guy was walking around the neighborhood banging a drum. I've seen this kind of thing before. There was a guy with a tamborine and a whip who used to come stand outside our gate in S India making noise until we gave him money to go away. Job Title: Professional Annoyance? How does that go over at parties? "So, Jim, what's your line of work?' "Aggravating the public for pocket change, pretty much. How about you, Fred?' We paid this man no mind. But then M and co went out for some groceries or something, and one of the locals said that the man was collecting money for the dead monkey. Oh, well, I thought, maybe he's a monkey disposer, and his services are paid for like 4th of July fireworks, and we're all supposed to pitch in. But on my way back in from my next errand [yesterday was a great day to dispose of an ungoshly glob of administrivia] the passel of ne'er-do-wells down at the sketchies was even bigger, and when I looked, they had all gathered round and they had sprinkled the monkey with sindura, an auspicious red powder, and garlanded him with a string of marigolds. There he was on a cloth and the collection was growing.
It was a Gol-Danged Monkey Funeral!
I went home and told everybody, and we asked uncle-ji who was as jovially dismissive of this sort of activity as he is of everything, but said sure, go take pictures, no one will care. The explanation advanced by him was that monkeys, being connected to Hanuman, get a full funeral at the banks of the Ganges just like everyone else. Y'day was Tuesday, too, and that's Hanuman day. I had noticed a buildup in activity outside the Hanuman temple down the road when I ran past it in the morning. [Yes, exercise resumes. As does increased smog inhalation, but I think the cardiac benefit balances that out.] Maggie said that at one of their ghat stops they had seen a deceased monkey getting the Fahrenheit 451 treatment.
I put B on my shoulders [no one else in India does this ever--??] and took C in hand and we went on down. The monkey had been properly wrapped and placed on a pire and they were just carrying him out.
As a bonus, the sketchy tea stalls are just barely visible in the background. One more reason to visit us, those.
We followed.
Note the monkey's head,

perhaps more visible in the enlarged and zoomed photo--there you should be able to deduce the monkey's last thoughts thanks to 8.2 megapixel resolution.
Also, here is his balloon animal totem, a critical item of a traditional monkey funeral...
The rather raucous procession stopped at all the local businesses [see "professional annoyance above']
to solicit donations, and then eventually stormed away. Subsequent discussion by those in the know concluded that much of the collection would eventually go towards liquor for the bereaved.
What, then, makes this the best blog post ever?* You ingrates, it was a Gol-Danged Monkey Funeral! What other blog had a monkey funeral today? You want more? Ok, you got it. Live footage, taken by me, with a point and shoot digital and a kid on my shoulders, uploaded at 26k/sec from an Internet hovel in Mahmoorganj. As my teacher says they town crier used to announce, 'Don't say "I didn't hear,' don't say "I didn't see!' And let no one say that SLNC is anything other than cutting edge.
This will be a little shaky, of course, but you should get the general impression. 10 seconds, 7.9 mb, is about all I can hope to muster.

In other news, we have a couple interesting leads on cracking the "three repetitions day and night' angle of papadesana. I know, you're all dying to know, but I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet. Wait for it, wait for it...

*Initial posting efforts were beyond my technical capacity, or perhaps that of my new favorite $.20/hr internet closet, which employs only the most knowledgeable, qualified, and legally eligible 12 year olds in the neighborhood. I told M about it, though, and she had a dream that I won "Best Blog Post" for the day on which it was posted. Prophetic or pathetic, you decide...


Grandpa George said...

Oh yes, best blog ever. Where else could you see AND HEAR a real live monkey funeral--UTTERLY CHARMING.

Although, I must add, that I am reminded of Scarry's "three cat band...and BLAAAT--babykins, I didn't know you could play the tuba!


paul said...


dan said...

Awesome work.

Valerie said...

This post demonstrates what wonderful neighbors y'all are (even though we aren't anymore). Never a dull moment and more often than not darkly funny. The video definitely brings the whole thing to life...the only other excitement I get this morning is my youngest fingerpainting in his yogurt.

ehirunner said...

Fingerpainting in yogurt = synecdoche of my life. Absurd to watch yet with its own twisted logic and yet enjoyable and frequently tasty.