Manuel has been cured of his little monkey obsession and I have none other than the monkeys themselves to thank for this. Manuel had been wanting a monkey since he arrived in India, seeing them as cute, cuddly little things that swing from the branches and steal the occasional piece of food from someone. Not too long ago, he stopped by my office where everyday around 4, the monkeys parade in from across the street and play for a bit in the tree outside my office before sunning themselves on the rooftop across the parking area. So there we were, Manuel, Ankit and I, sitting outside minding our own business, most likely engaging in some sort of sordid yet highly juicy gossip when the show started, the parade taking place just a few meters away. Manuel wanted to get closer and we kept him back, telling him how unpredictable the little darlings can be. He didn't believe us and thought we were just being a bit overprotective and overly cautious.
That is, until one of the monkeys thought we were all just a little too close. Manuel turned around and standing on the hood of the car about 2 meters away was a monkey sporting a rather scary look that basically told us to get the fuck out of there. Another monkey had chased away three other men who were holding it at bay with a plastic chair. Monkeys are not only mean little critters, but they carry lots of diseases with them and even a scratch can send a person to the hospital. Manuel was suddenly not so keen on having one.
We are both still missing Penelope, who we should have brought back with us from Bombay. We started our second day at Crawford market and after passing through the fruits where we kept ourselves entertained by watching the guys hauling in the big stalks of bananas and afterwards the spices where we were forced to smell every spice as though we were in a culinary Sephora, we circles past the pyramids of pineapples and watermelons to the animals. Some, like the chickens were there waiting to be killed and plucked, a scene we managed to witness which actually I could have done without, others were waiting to be taken home and given loving homes. And this is where we met Penelope. She was in a cage with the rest of the litter, and she was so small and cute and as soft and beige as cashmere and the other puppies were tormenting her, biting her and just making her life miserable. I assume they were jealous of her obvious glamour. I mentally adopted her, named her Penelope and off we went on the rest of our self guided walking tour.
It was not until later that evening, as we stood on the terrace of the hotel 30 floors above Bombay with cocktails in hand that we both said at almost the same time that we wanted that puppy. We had not once discussed her during the entire day. I asked Manuel what he would name her and without hesitation, he said "Penelope" - I knew it was a sign. We planned to pick up Penelope first thing the next morning and bring her home to Delhi. I spent the rest of the evening trying to arrange a seat of Penelope on the plane, but it was against the policy of the company we flew. I phoned another and got the same response. The only option was for us to come back by train, approximately a 15 hour journey from Bombay. I thought it would be great and Penelope could play with all the other animals on board. I imaged her running around saying "bark" to all the goats and chickens that would be traveling with them, but Manuel was not so keen on the idea of such a long train journey.
Her name has come up a few times since then and I think we both wish we would have taken the train. She was so picked on by the rest of the litter, I doubt she survived unless someone else adopted her and I feel sad when I think about her.