August 19. Somewhere in Madhya Pradesh. We are yet to reach Itarsi Junction. Our train has stopped for one of those inevitable "crossings" that occur on all train journeys in India. There are thick forests on both sides of the track.
A small platoon of monkeys, obviously used to getting food treats at this spot, came down from their tree shelter. Almost as if by reflex, the passengers on the train began throwing fruits(bananas mostly), biscuits, slices of bread and other eatables toward the monkeys. And the monkeys did not disappoint the waiting audience. With loud shrieks, they pounced on the food and feasted like no tomorrow to the immense delight of the children on the train who goaded on their parents to hurl out more eatables.
One passenger threw a half empty soft drink bottle. Confronted with this strange object, a few monkeys shied away. It reminded one of the The Gods must be Crazy movies where bushmen come across a softdrink bottle accidentally dropped by the pilot of a small plane. That bottle was made of glass and empty. This was made of plastic and was still half full.
A bold male approached the bottle and gave it a feeble poke. And when the bottle spun round, he jumped back in alarm. A few such attempts later, determining that the bottle held malice toward none, he grabbed it and gave it a bite. Great was his surprise when the pressurized gas inside began to escape with a hissing sound from the hole he had created. He scurried back to the safety of his mates. The whole platoon watched as the dark brown liquid spurted out like a fountain.
A few seconds later, a bigger male, perhaps imagining the bottle to be a wounded animal spouting blood ventured forward and tried to drink the 'blood'. The fact that he did not like the taste of the 'blood' was quite obvious. He began grimacing and wiping his mouth with his front paws trying to take the taste off. Two other members of his clan decided to try out the taste as well and they too joined the pathfinder in wiping their mouths. After that the monkeys avoided the soft drink altogether. They didnot even go near it. Perhaps they had no sports or movie icon to advice them that the softdrink was good for them. Or perhaps we need to rethink the statement about Man being the most intelligent of all creatures.