No Monkeys and All the Chapatis You Can Eat

A story about a violinist, the New York City Ballet and Titanic


It’s a comic story.

A few year ago a women is making chapati, a type of Indian bread, for her husband over a skillet. As the bread finishes she hands the piece to the side starting on another to dutifully satiate her husband’s appetite. After making nearly a dozen the woman asks her husband if he’s full. The husband replies he’s still waiting for the first.

Women outside of Geta Eye Hospital in Nepal waiting for cataract surgery.

What happened?

Unknown to either the husband or wife, a monkey had inserted itself between the couple. The woman was actually handing the chapati to the monkey who quickly downed the ill-gotten meal.

Children at a fundraising concert for HelpMeSee.

This entire scene took place in an outdoor shelter while the couple was waiting for sight-restoring surgery at Geta Eye Hospital in Nepal. The couple were blind because of cataracts. Finding humor in the situation they laughed when they were told what happened.

Observing this entire scene was Paul Peabody a violinist for the New York City Ballet and lead violinist for the Celine Dion song “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic.

A poster for one of Paul’s benefit concerts for HelpMeSee

Paul began his trips to Nepal on an operation of his own. After watching a documentary about an Indian girl born with cleft lip, he had been using his gift of the strings to raise money for a charity that operates on this condition. Since then his philanthropic fame has grown.

Paul Peabody playing the violin.

“It also started so simply. After seeing that movie I wrote to a charity asking them if could play to help relax the patients before surgery. I never thought I would hear back from them, but they responded and were touched by my offer to play and I was off to India.”

This led to concerts and then Paul mentioned HelpMeSee to other New York City Ballet artists who also became interested. Within a few trips he was performing on India’s national television network and raising money for other organizations such as Help Age India and HelpMeSee.

Thanks to Paul’s efforts a residential wing was built to house the patients of Geta Hospital while they’re waiting for their surgery. No monkeys and all the chapatis you can eat.

Paul performing with children who came with their own instruments.

Paul plans to return to India this year. At a concert for HelpMeSee in Delhi he was inspired by a mime troupe that performed a piece about cataract surgery.

“The Indian people like programs where they’re involved. What if we have a child from the audience remove the eye patches from the mimes’ eyes to depict the joy of seeing again?”

Coy about his own success Paul lets on that his father was a famous puppet master. “How about involving some of my father’s marionettes in the epic Ramayana?”

Soon Paul’s love for India and Nepal consumes him. “I love that part of the world. The people are happy. I am peaceful when I visit. If I ever quit working, I’ll retire over there.”

Are you an artists interested in traveling to India, Nepal or even Madagascar for HelpMeSee to perform for patients? Email us at info@helpmesee.org.



HelpMeSee is on a mission to eradicate cataract blindness. You can restore sight for someone in Madagascar for only $50. Please consider a gift today at helpmesee.org/givenow.

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