We'd been warned for months before we got to India. Other travelers who'd been there all had stories, terrifying stories of robbery and theft. Razor artists who sneak up behind you and slit your day pack off with ease. Acid thieves who'd pour acid on your back forcing you to drop your pack. Pickpockets, con artists, touts and Indian Mafia--they're everywhere, and the traveler must be prepared to lose everything for those fleeting moments of seeing the sunrise on the Taj Mahal or feeling the earth power at the birthplace of Shiva.

By the time we got to India, our minds were prepared with a perfect mixture of abject paranoia, utter angst and a fatalistic resignment. We knew we'd lose everything except our memories, if we were lucky.

But our weeks in India slid by and little happened. Sure, we had a razor artist stalk me, but Salli's quick eye and loud voice exposed him and he quickly melted into the swarms. And there were plenty of low level con artists, beggars, touts and really nice people who just wanted our pens, chocolates, loose change and deeds to our house. Until, that is, we met the King of Thieves.

It was a warm afternoon. The Indian winter sun beat down on the manicured lawns of the Tiger Den guest house just outside the gates of the Sariska National Park. We were all writing in our journals and munching on biscuits when it happened. Samantha had placed her package of breakfast biscuits on the lawn beside her chair when out of nowhere sprinted a brown, furry ball of lightening, a rhesus macaque male monkey, in full gallop, his powerful hind legs pumping and his long, sinewy arms with their exaggerated black hands slapping the earth.

In an instant he passed by, and with perfect timing snatched our morning food, paid for out of our meager and dwindling subscription fees from people like you. We had been robbed! Defiled by an evolutionary cousin. Stripped of our basic dignity and more basic biscuits.

Later that day a traveler from Japan was sitting on the lawn munching his lunch when a female and youngster macaque approached him with threatening gestures. They stood right in front of him, growling and showing their teeth. As the tourist stood to scare them off a large male monkey raced from behind, leaped and ripped the food out of his hand, tearing his hand open.

Salli administered first aid to his bleeding gash and we all marveled over the well coordinated team theft. We were amazed, and after that we made it a point to watch each other's backs.

Several days later we were at the top terrace of a maharaja's hunting palace, sitting and talking with a fellow from Germany. Samantha suddenly said, "that's the biggest one I've ever seen...." and as we all turned we saw this gigantic rhesus racing for our daypacks.

I quickly rose just as his powerful hands fell on mine and Salli's packs, inside of which were our tickets, passports, money, camera and everything else sacred to us. I wasn't about to lose these, and I exploded.

But the monkey knew he had something valuable, and he also knew he could deftly leap over the wall to a ledge where I could not get him or his prize. And as he was about to launch I jumped to, slamming my hand hard on the packs, inches from his.

We faced each other, only spitting distance apart. He bared his teeth and gave an unearthly hiss. I did the same, only nastier. For several seconds we stood there posturing like teenage gang leaders, each ready to do anything necessary to reach our goal.

And then the old monkey suddenly averted his eyes, just for a second. He lost. I won the staring contest. Nanny nanny boo boo. And in that moment of deflected attention I jerked and yelled "boo," and he exploded and ran for safety.

Afterall, it is a jungle out there, and survival of the fittest as well as the nastiest is the rule.

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