Monday, November 18, 2013

Hillarious and Creepy and Interesting all in one Nordic Bundle

Alright, this is an essay but a LOT happens. Bear with me.

My next door neighbour's parents moved from India to the U.K back in the 60's. After retiring they made a habit of heading back there every year to visit family and friends, ultimately spending around half their time travelling through India and half their time here. Long story short, one year they invite my family along.

I was 15 (now 25) and thought I was some badass Viking rock-prince because I had long blond hair and read Kerrang. FUN FACT: Curly hair ruins everything. I looked like a fucking cherub.
Now, my neighbour's dad has planned this holiday like it's a military campaign; when we arrive he hands each of us (including my 11-year-old brother and sister) a brown folder containing our itinerary, hotel brochures, money conversion charts, train timetables, four passport photos of ourselves for forms etc. and a list of names under the header 'Useful People'. Forget Viking rock-prince, I'm James fucking Bond.

Other than the fact that I'm mistaken for a girl on several occasions (my favourite being when one of my neighbour's relatives asks my mum why she lets me dress like a boy and offers to have a sari fitted for me), I have an amazing time.


We rock up to this huge hotel in the middle of the jungle. Honestly, the arse-end of nowhere. The nearest village is a three hour drive down a dirt road. Just before sunset. In the fucking jungle. I pull out the brochure. It'd be safe to say that this place is under new management. There's a single light on about five storeys up. As we pull in to the drive we spot a group of men clustered around a large fire. One of them stands and starts shouting something but is silenced by the guy next to him with a slap to the back of his head. One of the group comes sauntering over and motions our driver to wind down the window.

Imagine Alfred Hitchcock as an Indian drug lord and you'll have a pretty good idea of the man now flapping his jowls through our window. He peers into the back, spots us and cracks the dictionary definition of a shit-eating grin. In broken English he welcomes us to the hotel, glances over our reservations and ushers us into the lobby. This is when shit gets really weird.

The place is deserted. Not 'the staff have gone to bed' deserted, it was like 'whoever WAS here fucking NOPE'D it out of this place in a hurry' deserted. There were toppled chairs. In the lobby.
Hitchcock tells us that our rooms aren't ready (it is now 9pm) and offers us some food while we wait. The dining room is huge, empty and our order is taken by a boy no older than nine who promptly vanishes, closing the doors behind him. We hear a motorbike engine outside and an hour later something vaguely resembling our order appears on a variety of mismatched dinnerware. No idea where any of it came from.

At this point we were all pretty unnerved and everyone started making lame jokes to ease the tension. We were only there for one night, everything had been paid for in advance and we were a large group (11 in total) with two people who spoke Hindi and Konkani so felt pretty sure we could deal with any weirdness.

Hitchcock waddles in and takes us to our rooms. Every one of them is stripped bare apart from the beds and bedside tables, exposed wires poke out of the walls where you'd expect a T.V and/or phone and there are rectangular patches of discoloured wallpaper, suggesting that someone finally took a stand against terrible hotel artwork. The only decoration is this creepy little metal horse that's just sitting on one of the bedside tables. I'm sharing with my little bro and insist on taking the bed closest to the door, presumably thinking that I could summon Thor if things got hairy. Hitchcock lingers in our doorway for a while, flashing his pearly browns and giving me the rape eyes. I close the door on him. We dump our bags, check the door is locked and have bro chats until we pass out.

I wake up (no clue when, clocks clearly didn't fit with the whole minimalist crack-den vibe the management were going for, but it's pitch black) to hear the door to my room clicking shut. The door that is no further than a foot from my head. FUCK THAT. I'm no Viking rock-prince, I'm a flying baby that plays a harp. I cower under the surprisingly clean blankets until my heart stops threatening to bust out of my ribs and redecorate the ceiling. Stealthy ninja roll out of my bed and to the door. The bastard is unlocked. FUCK THIS. Barricade that shit with the bedside table. Check little bro is alive. Get into bed. See our bags. Add them to the barricade. Notice that mine is open. FUCK EVERYTHING.


Nothing's missing. Camera, wallet, clothes, super secret spy dossier, everything is intact. I convince myself that I shat my pants over nothing and go back to sleep. Side note, little bro slept through the whole thing.

Morning comes and we all want to get out of there as soon as possible. Neighbour's dad kicks off about how weird the whole thing is to Hitchcock and gets half of our money back. Excellent. We head outside and my sister points out the charred remains of one of the hotel beds in what's left of the fire-pit. Excellent...

Turns out that our driver, who had a room in the place, had decided to sleep in the bus because he (his own words) 'didn't want their funny business'. Apparently there were people coming and going all night. He woke up to see a guy, nose against the window, just staring in at him. Driver hit the window and the dude scampered off into the jungle like fucking Mowgli. We give driver an extra huge tip. Hitchcock waves at us from the lobby, adjusts his crotch and plods back in. We leave, thinking the weirdness is over.


About an hour into the journey I decide to take a look at our itinerary so pull out my spy folder. My heart instantly sinks. One of my passport photos is gone. A perfect 35 x 45mm rectangle missing from the corner. Three little Viking-rock cherubs stare up at me, mourning their fallen brother. I search the folder, ask my parents if they took it for something, start losing my shit. Everything from the night before rushes back. I explain what happened and there's this weird moment of silence while everyone looks at each other. Turns out that everybody heard someone outside/at their door at some point during the night but had deadbolted them before going to sleep. Bro and I had no deadbolt. Hitchcock put us in that fucking room on purpose. Driver suggests that we head back to the hotel and demand satisfaction. Tips galore for Driver.

We arrive at hotel. The doors are padlocked. Hitchcock and his cronies have vanished. The cherry on top of this mindfuck cake is the horse. The little metal horse that was sat on our bedside table has been placed on the step in front of the doors. I took it*. Free souvenir. Fuck you Hitchcock.
TL;DR Basically, don't go to India.

EDIT: The TL;DR is a just me dicking about. I bloody love India and have been back there twice since this. It is an amazing country and the people are, on the whole, incredibly warm and welcoming. You just get the odd (emphasis on that word) few who really skew the average.


Anonymous said...

Hilariously written. Creepy and great. I want to have that experience!

Anonymous said...

I agree - a hilarious read but what a terrifying experience! I would have crapped my pants. Love your writing!