The situation between the Indian
government and their adversaries had been at an effective stalemate for months - going back and forth with occupations, infiltrations, guerilla
tactics and black ops comparable to the most fanciful dreams of MK-ULTRA (nonlethal sonic deterrents, starvation tactics, slipping contraceptives into the food supply?)
But we're not talking about the Kashmir situation - oh no - and this isn't Pakistan I'm alluding to here (not yet
, at least). No, the conflict I gloss over belongs to the bureaucrats, officials and ministers working in New Delhi
building in their struggles to get a day's work done for the world's largest democracy with the whole place overrun by rhesus monkey
s, screeching screaming and hurling their poop non-stop at interns and Prime Ministers alike.
Finally the vainglorious humans felt they had arrived at a means of Final Solution acceptable to them - unwilling for traditional + religious reasons (okay, and India's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 might have had something to do with it) to take direct action of lethal force against the monkeys themselves they employed an insidious treatment of biological warfare, unleashing fierce and massive langurs to drive out their smaller cousins, the perennially-pesky rhesus monkeys. But this conflict was not the domain of the langurs; in chapter 12 of Il Principe Machiavelli takes a strong stance advising against the commissioning of mercenaries, as once they have dealt with your problem they replace them. It would be well that some minor functionary in the Indian political machine had read this work of amoral axioms, that New Delhi might have avoided a plague of terror and shame brought on from the unflattering spotlight the attention of the international media focused on this sometimes-simpler corner of the world.
Perhaps the interference of the meddling humans had stirred the wrath of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman; deterred from his divine goal perhaps of establishing the first parliament of primates on Earth, he sent down an avatar to be a champion for his people. Or it may be that in its peripheral exposure to bills and laws while traversing the passages of the government building an unusually-clever langur cultivated a sense of justice and fair play; tired of the division and infighting resulting from participation of these unaligned parties in the dirty little wars of others, it decided to take up the mantle on behalf of the monkeys, waging a one-man (you know what I mean) war on these uppity hairless pink apes, striking a blow for all the Monkeys In Action and Primates Of War - in short, a sort of John Rambonobo.
Whatever the cause, only the symptoms are known. Starting approximately May 10, 2001, and for a period of approximately two weeks, the inhabitants of New Delhi were clutched in a stifling grip of fear (practically paralyzed, save for the ability to cause themselves harm attempting to escape the menace1) among rumours of a kala bandar, or monkey man, creeping into people's houses and scratching them with a curiously metallic claw. Accounts of its nefarious manifestations began in the poorer (+ thus frequently less-educated / more superstitious) neighbourhoods and suburbs to the east and south-east of the city but soon spread like memetic wildfire across the city and beyond, out into the great subcontinental hinterland (where, as late as July 20012, reports of misanthropic monkey-man, uh, malingering were still coming in from Patna and the Ara, Jehanabad, and Rohatas districts of Bihar while Assam upped the ante and claimed predation from an invisible Bear Man!)
As local police were rendered helpless, pinned down and inundated by hundreds of calls daily of monkey man attacks and sightings neighbourhood groups decided that their safety was too important to leave in the hands of these bunglers and, deciding that they could bungle better than trained professionals, banded together into roving vigilante militias in hopes to find, confront and capture the monkey man... and maybe scratch him up a few times in payback. Failing to track down the actual monkey man, these elite mayhem squads (among less noteworthy carnage) apprehended a run-of-the-mill mundane non-man rhesus monkey, beat up a mechanic wearing dark (and sinister!) clothing, and attacked a 4' itinerant holy man named Jamir3 for performing "mystical formulations", boogety boogety (well, uh, he wouldn't be much of a holy man if he /didn't/ make mystical formulations, would he?).
Regional police, in the meantime, managed to get out of the station long enough to make two monkey-man arrests: (May 16th) a burglar in Ghaziabad capitalizing on the panic by wearing a rhesus monkey mask while going about his business, and Dr Narendra Kumar Sagar of East Delhi for executing a somewhat poorly thought-through practical joke intended to show his neighbours how foolish all this hysteria was: while dyeing his hair, he decided to inflate the rubber glove he was using and throw it off his balcony into the street, yelling "Bandar ka haath, bandar ka haath!" ("It's the monkey's hand!") What a card! However, instead of eliciting a chuckle from the townspeople below, people began converging from all over Ganesh Nagar to get a look at this malign artifact for themselves. Aware of the unexpected crowd gathering beneath his balcony, Dr. Sagar came down and said that, as a doctor, he could ascertain the validity of this strange-looking appendage. Hemming and hawing, he finally stomped on it, popping the glove with a bang and causing a minor stir. Authorities, fed up with the perpetuation ( + subsequent escalation) of this nonsense, let him cool his heels in the pokey for a few days.
While there wasn't a lot the authorities could do about cases such as the second of those, they took action against further copycat mischief by asking shop owners to temporarily refrain from selling monkey costumes, masks, gloves and other sundry simian paraphernalia. Unfortunately, any stemming of the tide this action might have resulted in was negated by the police's offer of a 50-thousand rupee reward, subsequently matched and topped by All India Sadbhavna Sangathan's 51,000 reward, for information leading to the arrest of the monkey man. (And what, I like to contemplate, would they have done had they managed to arrest it? Would it have been granted a fair trial? Permitted to represent itself, perhaps? Order in the court! bellows the judge, upset at the transformation of his courtroom into a monkey house. I could go for a banana lassi, the darling of the press might express in crude sign language...)
It may be that the reason the monkey man was so hard to catch was that beyond the "monkey" part, there was no real consensus on what it was supposed to look like and what its capabilities were. Confabulation took ahold of the stock description and with every retelling another feature changed or appeared. It was reported (all details from actual reports) to have glowing red eyes and metal claws and be about four and a half feet tall, except when it was closer to eight. But it could jump 20 feet up in the air, and definitely had black fur... uh, unless it was painted silver. Or covered in white bandages. Did we mention that it can turn into a cat? No, wait, I meant turn invisible. Maybe it can do ALL these things... but if so, then it's got to be some sort of supernatural being. No, no... don't be daft, those don't exist. it's clearly an extraterrestrial being. Or a cyborg - no, a robot!- yeah, that's the ticket. A remote-controlled alien robot from a flying saucer4. Hey, there's a dwarf! Let's get 'im! GAAAHHHHH!
What should you do in the event of monkey man attack?
- Of course, many will say that prophylactic measures are the best approach to health - avoid the unpleasant results by not allowing the problem to occur in the first place. With this in mind, a priest of Shiva, Prabhakar Mishra, advises to ward off monkey man scratch-attacks5 by offering prayers to Hanuman seven times daily.
- Supposing your most fervent and devout chants and offerings go unheard (or worse, that you're being molested by that most fearsome of the breed, the agnostic or atheist robo-monkey man) it is widely supposed that its cybernetic enhancements are susceptible, like many cheap subcontinental electronics, to interference and damage by water. So take a note from the residents of the Moshallah, Son Bazar and Krishna Nagar neighbourhoods at the height of the panic, and keep a bucket of the wet stuff close at hand to throw at the motherboard mounted on the monkeyman's chest (just beneath, experts will have us believe, a thin layer of cheap imitation monkey fur.)
- So now you've got a wet and angry godless ape-thing in front of you, and despite the fearsome powers reputedly in its arsenal, it leans over or reaches out a paw and "merely" takes a swipe or nips at you. Once it's exacted its gruesome toll (don't worry overly - no verified reports exist of the monkey man's carnage ever exceeding a metallic scratch... though there's a first time for everything!) primatologist Dr. Iqbal Malik warns of subsequent infection of the wound (as monkey men are rarely known to wash their hands after handling raw meat or going to the washroom) and recommends immediately washing the site with soap and water. Subsequent treatment for potential infection with rabies and tetanus is also advised.
By June 19th, a special crack team of police authorities and scientist experts submitted their report to Delhi Police Commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma
coming to a startling conclusion that was soon publicized: that there was no monkey man, and in fact, there likely never had been
. The police called it "mass hysteria
" and the scientists "fear psychosis
" (and the real Poindexters among them specifying "pseudologia fantastica", a form of pathological lying.)
Furries around the world were disheartened6
and alleged victims of the supposed monkey-man began claiming some high-level cover-up behind the true nature of the phenomenon that in two months had killed five people and injured 75 (most jumping off roofs, falling down stairs and being crushed by mobs in flight to avoid getting scratched by a metal claw) despite, according to the report, no verifiable animal bite marks or scratches, gang involvement or activity indicating the use of remote-controlled robots ever actually manifesting.
A compelling hypothesis for the both the inception and the escalation of the monkey man phenomenon focuses on the fact that the only accepted anti-monkey-man agents were light and water - both simple things frequently unavailable in the poorer neighbourhoods where the monkeymanmongering was most prolific... for after all, what is more compelling and terrifying than a boogeyman with a patently obvious shutdown-switch that you just can't afford to flip? Yet of course light (and the electricity that brings it) is a resource with many potential applications, and it was long a police suspicion that reports of monkey man menace were being called in not because of any attack or sighting, but because of canny and desperately poor people reasoning that electricity and light would have to be restored in neighbourhoods for police to undergo any serious search investigation. Was this entire shebang merely a case of the poor pulling the wool over everyone's eyes in a bid for more regular access to electricity?
Or is there actually a genuine cover-up in place, swallowing the monkey-man embarrassment in order to avoid a full thermonuclear exchange? No small amount of speculation was devoted to the possibility that monkey man mania was the result of agitation from adjacent Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Regardless, the spread of the hysteria was sharply curtailed following approximately 20 arrests in connection with making bogus (well, more-bogus - insincere and deliberate crowd-manipulation) claims about monkey-man attacks. Were these just the same sorts of jerks who make bomb jokes in airports or were they insidious Muslim agents dedicated to spreading chaos and undermining stability in human-monkey relations?
One thing seems clear: like the rash of Spring-Heeled Jack reports in nineteenth-century London, or the more recent Latin American fears of el Chupacabra and even accounts of the milk mustaches on statues of Ganesha finally drying up, the power of enough human minds believing in something can make the thing a potent - and sometimes-lethal - force regardless of whether or not it actually even exists! Furthermore... did you hear something?
wait... what's that noise?
Dr. _Intellectual's manuscript ends here. However, among his torn and blood-stained papers were found the following notes, apparently errata pertaining to the above text. If you have any information in regard to his whereabouts, please contact local authorities.
1 In addition to the numerous (accidental) self-inflicted injuries, there were also several further cases of hysterical violence delivered upon parties incorrectly believed (whoops, it was a dog) to be the monkey man - including in one noteworthy episode, Raghunath Pathak being mistaken for the monkey man and bitten by his brother. Now, which of these siblings is displaying more of the characteristics of a rampant simian run amok?
2 Of course, this monkey-man nonsense is now considered old hat even to the inhabitants of the rural and outlying areas, where the cryptozoophobic zeitgeist has shifted to Moohnochwa, a soccer ball-shaped UFO emitting burning red and blue beams in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
3 Looking for more information into this particular misstep in the monkey man fiasco, I was chuffed to find that the words "Jamir" and "monkey man" also co-occur in the screenplay to Raiders of the Lost Ark, but nowhere else.
4 An often-quoted apparent expert, Deepali Kumari of Noida, is on the record regarding the cyber-monkeyman's abilities: "It has three buttons on its chest. One makes it turn into a monkey, the second gives it extra strength, the third makes it invisible. He touches a lock and it breaks. But he is afraid of the light." Perhaps it's the Aibo-equivalent of the soccerball-UFO residents.
5 Dag, starting to sound like I'm describing the Ninja Tune mascot.
Carthag sez: Well, there actually is a monkey man scratch attack. unfortunately, it involves breaking both the record and the turntable. Some innovative djs have made the monkey man scratch attack with included breakage of audience and sound system, which haven't made them very popular, however cutting edge it may be.
6 Of course, nothing that a little yiff couldn't remedy.
Sources include the websites of: Ananova, the BBC, CNN, and Salon.
Toward the ends of full comprehensiveness I disclose that "New Delhi Monkey Man" is (or was, at least) also the name of a New York-area band featuring members Lee Chabowski, Gary Manifold and Chris Moore.