India is an easy place to have some inadvertent adventures and some stories to tell, here is just one of the fun situations I found myself in while traveling alone in the Sub Continent.
11.06.2006 40 °C
On June 11th I was in Agra to see the Taj Mahal- the most famous landmark in all of India. As usual I spent some time (and too much money) in an internet café nearby. I was at the cafe till about 1:30 in the morning when they finally kicked me out. It was only a short two blocks to the hostel so I figured it would be OK to walk in the very deserted streets. However, after being chased by street dogs in Mumbai in 2004 I have had a bit of a fear of them. So I picked up a brick for protection and walked back to the hostel.
At that hour the outer gate was locked of course and no matter how much I knocked and yelled, I could not rouse the owners, but did a good job of alerting all the dogs in the area to my presence and a chorus of barking accompanied my pleas.
After a few minutes I decided to just climb the gate and go to my room. No sooner did I step on top of the gate than the massive German Shepard guarding the hostel came running from inside, letting me know that getting down was not an option. I realized at that moment just how bad it must have looked, a stranger in the middle of the night trying to climb a locked gate with a brick in his hand. So I tried yelling louder from the top of the gate and banged on the metal with my brick, still to no avail.
Frustrated, I jumped back into the street to try and get some help. I has seen a few people sitting down on a bench down the block and hoped that they would be friendly. Turns out there were about 5 Tourist Police officers there in the shadows and one on the roof of a building across the street. Again I thought about just how bad the seen looked and wondered why the hell that had not arrested me for an attempted break-in. Not sure what they would have done in a real break in attempt, but I tried not to worry about that.
I approached the officers and with my best smile I said “Hello, could you help me please?” The officer looked at me strangely and gestured suspiciously to the brick in my hand. I hastily dropped the brick and tried to explain "Dogs, dogs, I don't like the bad dogs.” I have no idea if the message came across but he seemed to accept my explanation.
They spoke very little English and, of course and I have no Hindi to speak of so I showed them my room key and first tried to convince them that I was legit, and not a drunken or drugged tourist. One officer asked if I was "together", so I gathered he meant sober. I insisted "no beer" and tried to get him to smell my breath, which did not go over well. I must have seemed harmless enough, however as two officers accompanied me back to the gate and tried making some noise, only managing to bring back the German Shepard. One officer suggested that I climb the fence again and I just pointed to the dog inside. He then broke off a very small and inadequate branch from a nearby tree for me to protect myself which I just stared at.
I had the number of the hostel in my Lonely Planet guide and pulled it out imploring one of the officers to try and call. He agreed and after the third try he started speaking in Hindi into his mobile and a few minutes later the owner came out ,unlocked the gate and with a look of death in my direction ushered me to my room. I sheepishly went to my room and tried to get some sleep which did not really happen as the air conditioning unit in my room only succeeded in making it miserably hot AND humid as opposed to just miserably hot.
It was dawn before I passed out and managed somehow to get 2 hours of rest before the room became too hot again and I was forced back out. I did spend the next few bleary-eyed hours at the Taj Mahal- which does live up to its reputation as the most beautiful building in the world, so I can’t complain too much.