Friday, April 13, 2007

Sri Lanka: Serious Monkey Business

One evening in Kandy, Sri Lanka's second largest city, I waited on the main highway for a a bus to the capital. I waited patiently at first; I finished reading a bulky novel, drank three cups of sugary chai, and wrote a few post cards. But then patience abruptly ran out and I started fidgeting. It was at this moment, when I was tapping my foot nervously, drumming my fingers, looking left, right, and even up at the sky (did I really expect the bus to fall from the sky?) that an English-speaker shuffled over and clued me in: "No buses or vehicles on the main highway at night. The headlights attract the wild elephants." Well, who could argue with that? Wild elephants-- of course. What was I thinking? Welcome to Sri Lanka.

I had read that Sri Lanka was a hot spot for biodiversity, but I wasn't prepared to have my schedule interrupted by elephants, to be stared at by leopards, or to be pounced on by monkeys. I've never been so alert in my life.

On the subject of monkeys, it seems that David Zellnik was also fascinated by them when he visited-- in fact, one monkey even tried to groom him. But instead of writing a blog entry about this monkey business, David got a grant from the Sloane Foundation and wrote an incredible play called Serendib. Serendib is a hilarious story about the seemingly parallel lives lead by scientists and monkeys. It's a short play that packs a punch, questioning the human conscious, the idea of destiny from the genome, sex, and power struggles among species. You can see it at Swing by soon-- this one sells out fast so don't monkey around until the last minute (sorry for the pun. I couldn't help it).

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