I was once rescued from a pack of incensed monkeys on the steps of a Nepalese temple by a group of Tibetan ladies brandishing umbrellas. A humiliating experience to begin with, the ladies proceeded to severely and loudly admonish me for annoying said monkeys, ignoring my dismayed protestations that I had, in fact, done nothing.
This small but perfectly formed story basically sums up my relationship with monkeys. Since I first began traveling and meeting monkeys that were not constrained or behind bars, I've been subjected to bites, scratchings and all round general harassment, across Nepal, India, Indonesia and Africa, in fact wherever monkeys are usually found.
I don't know why monkeys don't like me. My husband Ian suspects that my eye colour may have something to do with it. They are a very light blue and monkeys might feel that I am somehow challenging them when I look at them. Of course I am not the only person to have had a bad monkey experience, something I actually take great comfort in. I remember on a buying trip in India, sitting on the hotel veranda one evening sipping mango juice andhearing all about what it was like to live with monkeys from a South African lady. She said she'd come back from a shopping trip one day to find her home overrun with the little bastards - they were lounging on her couch, they'd gone through her fridge and they'd also made free with her underwear drawer. One of them had her best Calvin Klein bra on its head.
Monkeys, of course, love Ian. Wherever I am harassed, he is feted, or at the very least ignored. Mother monkeys bring their babies to dandle on his knee. At no point on our trip to Nepal was he even approached by monkeys. On a trip to Africa, when I had to be rescued by a Zulu tribesman while bird watching, the resident beasts actually went around him to get to me.
Take exhibit A, above. If I look resigned in this picture, it's because I know what's coming. We'd decided to take a half-day out of our buying schedule to visit an ancient Jaipur palace, and I took a moment to sit, at which point the monkey in the picture sidled up to me and started eying me off. Just as Ian took the shot the monkey reached over, looked me straight in the eye, then raked its filthy little set of claws across my leg. It then proceeded to nonchalantly amble over to Ian and fawn over him, joining a mother monkey and her baby who were already sitting on the ends of his shoes. After this one scratched me I was absolutely paranoid that I was going to get rabies and die. I washed and washed the wound, made it bleed horribly and then just generally walked around with a hangdog expression on my face. I discussed with Ian the possibility of being air lifted back to Australia and that on no account was I to be forced to stay in a local hospital and I made him practice what he was going to say to the staff if they insisted and questioned him closely on whether he'd be would be willing to physically carry me out. And of course in the end everything was fine, I didn't get rabies, and I don't even have a scar - all I've got is this picture of a horrible fucking monkey, its intention writ clear on its little monkey face.
My husband took this picture of a monkey falling at his feet, as usual. Monkey Forest, Ubud, Bali.
As for our trip to Ubud, Bali, last year, as usual I was on the receiving end from the resident monkey population in the Monkey Forest, even though learning from all my past experiences I was very careful not to actually look at any of them directly. I managed to get into trouble when one very gently but insistently put its arms around me and tried to take the necklace off my neck, then took exception to me just as insistently thwarting it. In the end Ian had to come and rescue me. At the time I wrote a review for Trip Adviser called Monkeys and a Fistful of Bananas - What Could Possibly Go Wrong? They encourage you to buy bananas before you go in, and of course the monkeys think it's a free-for-all. They also try to steal your watches, jewellery and cameras, and anything else that's not firmly attached to your body. As I observed that day, generally it's the Americans who lose nerve and start running and screaming first. Making me look quite good.
The little beggar in the very act of removing my necklace
Linda has a Honours degree in Marine Biology and a PhD in Ecology from the University of NSW, Australia. She has travelled extensively and is a passionate writer on subjects as diverse as the role played by women throughout history, tribal communities and their customs, symbology and ethnology, talismans and their history. Occasionally she also writes about her travel experiences, her new life on a 25 acres in the Northern Rivers region of northern Australia and her black miniature poodle Phoenix. She is currently writing her first book on talismans.
In 1989 my father Bernard packed in his house painting business and set off for two years on a backpacking trek to the remotest corners of the world. When he finally arrived in the oasis city of Kashgar, China, he was so impressed with its history that he decided to start a new life collecting and selling exotic goods from all over the world. For 2000 years the legendary city of Kashgar was a melting pot of ideas and a key trading post on the historic Silk Road. It was this unique combination of philosophy and trade that my father wanted to recreate at home.
Starting in markets in 1991, he opened his first store in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1994. I gave up my own career as a government scientist to join him in 2000 and soon convinced my partner Ian to join us in what was to become the Family Business.
Today our version of Kashgar stocks a hugely diverse range of furniture, rugs, textiles, antiques, handicrafts and jewellery sourced from over twenty different countries including India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Our collection includes contemporary and tribal silver and gold jewellery, a unique range of headhunting curios, antique Buddhist relics and a collection of one-off necklaces, earrings and bracelets that I design and create myself using the beads and jewellery making techniques of ethnic minorities from around the globe.
Kashgar is a philosophy as well as a store. We are committed to supporting traditional artisans and small village communities by selling authentic handcrafted goods which are personally collected by us. By supporting traditional methods of design and production we hope to encourage local cottage industries which have a low impact on the environment and help ethnic minorities maintain their self-sufficiency into the 21st Century. We are particularly committed to assisting women around the world and to this end have worked with several organisations including the Hua Bin Women's Union of Vietnam, the East Timorese Women's Association and Tikondane in Zambia. Time honoured means of craftsmanship and traditional ways of life are disappearing as people all over the world give up their identity in favour of jeans and T-shirts. We see our trade as a means of staving off the inevitable encroachment of the 21st century, assisting communities to decide for themselves which parts of the western world they wish to incorporate (medicine, education) and which they wish to reject (prostitution, drug production, begging and servitude to warlords). We encourage our customers to think of the handicrafts and artifacts they buy from us as an investment: a piece of history and a way of life that may soon be gone forever.
Kashgar has recently closed its retail outlet and gone completely online.
In the past our pieces appeared in many movies including The Hobbit, Mission Impossible 2, Queen of the Damned, Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge and Wolverine, and in many televisions series, as well as in plays, commercials and exhibitions. We've found special pieces for individual customers as well as for film sets, event management companies, hotels, businesses, consulates and embassies. The uniqueness of our stock means that we are also very appealing to interior and fashion designers with a taste for the exotic.
There is something for everyone at Kashgar - collectors, the curious, those looking for a special present or for something unique to adorn the home. Most of our items are one-off specialties; other pieces we only stock in small quantities so as to continuously offer a wide and ever-changing range of interesting products. We are also packed with ideas for decorating home and work premises that will challenge your established concepts of design and storage.
Please enjoy - Linda Heaphy
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