“The monkeys called the place their city, and pretended to despise the Jungle-People because they lived in the forest. And yet they never knew what the buildings were made for nor how to use them. They would sit in circles on the hall of the king’s council chamber, and scratch for fleas and pretend to be men; or they would run in and out of the roofless houses and collect pieces of plaster and old bricks in a corner, and forget where they had hidden them, and fight and cry in scuffling crowds, and then break off to play up and down the terraces of the king’s garden, where they would shake the rose trees and the oranges in sport to see the fruit and flowers fall. They explored all the passages and dark tunnels in the palace and the hundreds of little dark rooms, but they never remembered what they had seen and what they had not; and so drifted about in ones and twos or crowds telling each other that they were doing as men did. They drank at the tanks and made the water all muddy, and then they fought over it, and then they would all rush together in mobs and shout: “There is no one in the jungle so wise and good and clever and strong and gentle as the Bandar-log.” Then all would begin again till they grew tired of the city and went back to the tree-tops, hoping the Jungle-People would notice them.”
Kaa’s Hunting, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Growing up somewhere famous for wine, I went on a few wine tours as a young adult. Neither myself or any of the people I was with really knew anything about wine or wine tasting and the staff at the various wineries we visited seemed quite accustomed to this among their clientele. Essentially, we were getting driven around in a minivan as we slowly got drunk and perhaps bought a bottle or two that took our fancy. This was a lot of fun but I had some sense at the time — and certainly do now — that I was a phony. I had little appreciation for the wine outside its power to inebriate and I now look back at my young self as something of a savage trying to use a knife and fork for the first time.
I think the connection between the Bandar-log in Kipling’s beloved story and my own aping of the pass times of more sophisticated people must be obvious. I wanted to start with an anecdote about myself as I will be having a go at almost everyone and I don’t want to pretend I’m an exception — though I certainly try to be. This is also similar in theme to a post from last year around the same time. As I write, it is Ash Wednesday evening so it is unsurprising I had similar thoughts to these during Lent last year. Continue reading