Grandfather: India 1960

As a reminder: the bearded stranger had a grandfather (well, two in fact but we’ll focus on the one who travelled more). He travelled very widely and wrote lots of books between the 1930s and '60s. There are many wonderful stories in the books, and a few which fit the criteria for the bearded stranger’s stories. Here’s the fifth – and thankfully he didn’t also have a beard so he is just ‘the stranger’.

The stranger was wandering down Delhi’s main shopping street, the Chandni Chowk, when he saw my stall. He stopped and he told me that in his country there weren’t any sellers of monkey tails.

‘Monkeys big big plague in Delhi here sir’, I told him, ’and the city council is being rid of them’. You may guess that it isn’t easy to catch monkeys as they are very cunning and fast, especially in a city where they can jump walls and climb on rooves to avoid us. I therefore employ lots of my cousins to help me – and here on my stall you see the result.

He was a most commercial man, this stranger, for he asked: ‘but why would anyone buy a monkey’s tail? Is it medicinal? Are they used for religious purposes?’ I bobbed my head up and down: ‘Oh, no, sir, no. You see, sir, yes, the city council offers two rupees for every tail. I sell here for less than 2 rupees so others can claim full amount from the council. See?’ Again commercial-minded he asked: ‘but why don’t you sell them for 2 rupees to the council?’. ‘Ah, you see sir,’ I said to him, ‘I deal wholesale as it were. Delhi monkeys very hard to catch. My cousins bring in many tails from villages and towns around Delhi, outside Delhi. This number make city council happy; many monkey tails, their policy a big success.’