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The trouble with monkeys Add to ...

We've got monkeys.

Huge, messy, mean-looking monkeys. Many. As I write this, they are pounding on the windows of the bureau, eating the plants, and swinging gleefully on the water pipes, steadily prying them off the walls.

It was only a matter of time, really: Delhi is notorious for its monkey infestation. In the most notorious incident, deputy mayor Sawinder Singh Bajwa fell to his death in October 2007 when a pack of monkeys invaded the balcony where he sat reading the newspaper.

The monkeys are particularly prevalent around the major government ministries, where they not infrequently rampage through the halls seeking food and terrorizing people. I once sat through a very uncomfortable interview with a senior official with the Ministry of External Affairs while, behind him, a trio of monkeys larger than my child worked steadily to pull the grating off his window and get in the office, stopping occasionally to have sex.

Many people believe the monkeys to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Hanuman, so the city does not trap or destroy them.

Our monkeys, a quick consultation of Google suggests, are red-faced macaques, or possibly large Rhesus macaques. A few phone calls, and I am now awash in horror stories about the severe injuries they have caused people and the massive destruction they wreak on property.

So what does one do? After more phone calls, I have learned that one hires a langur. Langurs are even bigger monkeys, who look fairly innocuous but, apparently, have a fierce reputation in the monkey world. The government has put langurs and their keepers on the payroll to try and defend the ministries. And apparently I need to track down one who works in my neighbourhood, who, for a fee, will come over with his langur. It will, I gather, pose ostentatiously in the spots where the macaques now play, and leave some telltale odiferous signs of its presence. Apparently this, and this alone, will get rid of the smaller, more destructive monkeys.

Except it's Diwali season. And the langur - and his keeper - are off with everyone else, celebrating. Which means I'm stuck, for now, with the macaques eyeing me hungrily through the window.

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