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The Deshi Monkey

It's no monkey business making a living on the mean streets of Dhaka

By Tasfia R. Anika

"That's all just well enough, because in reality there is only room enough in this world for one Mojo Jojo. One shall be the number of Mojo Jojos in the world, and the number of Mojo Jojos in the world shall be one. Two Mojo Jojos is too many, and three is right out. So the only Mojo Jojo there is room for in the world shall be me.” - Mojo Jojo

Mojo Jojo is my hero. But, that doesn't mean we should overlook the Deshi monkeys.

Yes. Deshi monkeys are the boss. In Dhaka, most of the monkeys we see are the crab-eating macaque. There is a good number of them right here and the population is multiplying; quite fast. Sometimes, I fear of a day when monkeys shall rule over Dhaka city.

Mr. Ali's monkey can take out every single louse out of your infected hair. It's innate for a deshi monkey to look for lice. They simply love that job. Ever wondered how much you could get just by owning a pet monkey? Think about it, there are hundreds of girls right here in Dhaka, with severe lice problems. Many talk about it openly; many don't. Nevertheless, the problem is still there. Hence, a great entrepreneurial idea. Make your services cheap enough and you'll bomb the English Ukun-nashok Shaban.

Mr. Ali got the monkey from his village back in Sherpur. The occupation of displaying monkey tricks to crowds - mainly during melas - did not come to him by choice. He has some stomach troubles which he calls 'gastric'; but he refused to start begging like many of his fellow villagers. Instead, he got into the monkey business and never looked back since.

Ali is like a gypsy now. He goes from one place to another with his little monkey to entertain people with the wacky tricks he taught her. Apart from the 'ukun bacha' talent which all deshi monkeys acquire, his monkey can hand shake, dance, act like humans among other tricks.

About 10 years back, when one fine day Ali was showing tricks with his monkey, the police took him and his monkey away due to some case filed against them by the forest department. Monkeys are supposed to live amongst trees and swing around branches with their fellow tribe members. Ali was not to have an animal forcefully under his command. The case was taken to court.

In the court, Ali boldly put forward a way to sort the problem out. He said, he will take his monkey to a forest and let him go, but if, by any chance, the monkey comes back to him, he shall never let it go ever again. And guess what happened; the loyal monkey came back to his master Ali. Now that's what I call monkey love.

Ali and the monkey have been coworkers for 18 years now. Good luck to the dynamic duo.

Author Wendelin Van Draanen

Reviewed by Numaya

They told me not to judge books by their covers, but in a bookstore in New Market, that's exactly what I did. A picture of an upside down chicken on a white background, and upside-down print at the back seemed quite interesting so I grabbed the single copy left from a pile in the corner. The blurb was humorous, written from a child's point of view, and it seemed rather kiddish. But then again, we all enjoy indulging ourselves in childish reads once in a while. Or maybe it's just me.

“Flipped” is a young adult novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, set between the years 1994- 2000. It alternately presents the points of view of two protagonists, Julianna “Juli” Baker and Bryce Loski, starting when they were 7 years old taking the readers into their teen years.

The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce, her heart flipped. She was 7, but she could feel the concept of love at first sight, without even knowing what it was. But Bryce, annoyed by her bubbly nature, ran. For six years these neighbours played the same game of cat-and-mouse, until the roles reversed, and they grew up.

Bryce never really seemed to like Juli. She talked too much, she always followed him around and she grew chickens in her backyard. She never seemed to leave him alone. She ran over while his family was still moving in, climbed into the moving van, and absolutely took over from that day on. Bryce runs through most of the book, literally, just to get away from her.

For years Juli dreamed of one thing: her first kiss from Bryce, the boy with those gorgeous blue eyes. She spent most of her time attempting to get closer to him, sometimes literally stalking him. Having an artist as her father, however, changed Juli's perspective on life. When her favourite sycamore tree was cut down, she began to see the world in a different light. Realising not everything is easy and simple, she tried to forget Bryce. And when he does something quite unforgivable, she starts running this time, away from him and away from her feelings.

I guess the book, despite being childish, sort of sends a message. Like when Juli finally sees Bryce's true side, and just how much he disliked her, it's like a veil being pulled of her eyes. We're mostly all blinded by love, and even a kid could be overwhelmed by feelings. As the years go by, Juli begins to see that Bryce isn't the amazing guy she always thought he was. And just as she has a change of heart, Bryce begins to see Juli in a new light. And you realise at one point, that you shouldn't be so judgmental and give everyone a chance.

I liked reading this. I wouldn't say it's a great book, but it's fun to read and doesn't bore you, or even make you think too much. It's a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny voices; every other chapter showing the same scenes and events, only from the other's point of view, and you see how the saying, “two sides to every story,” is true.


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