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
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
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.