The day we were ghosts

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, January 2, 2003

My wife and I were on a motorcycle ride through rural Maharastra- near the ghats. Almost by chance at about noon we passed through a village in Kolhapur district that was quaint, we had been on our bike for a few hours already and decided to find some accomodation here. The first impressions about this village were , it was very scenic and it seemed to have been dropped straight out of the sky and into a thick forest. As we ere riding through the main street (the only street) in the village we saw a board "Jungle Resort". The object of a bike ride is always adventure so we figured that this resort might be a good place to spend the night.

The sign actually pointed to an offshoot from the main street- it wasn't really a metalled road, but seemed navigable. So I turn my bike and we are on our way to the jungle resort. After a few hundred feet the road just disappeared and we were riding thru the fields for what seemed like hours at last we found the Jungle resort - it was about 2-3 kms off the main street.

"Jungle resort" was a good name, actually only "jungle" would have sufficed. A vast private estate of wooded land with 2 cottages at either end. One of the cottages had 2 rooms for guests - Yes this was a resort with only 2 rooms. The other cottage was the kitchen and residence for the staff (staff consisted of 1 family, whom the owner had appointed to look after this estate.)

We were shown into this room, with stuffed heads of every mammal available in these parts. 3 deer, a Gaur (Indian bison) and a few others. It was old but fairly comfortable. With no tourist circuit to occupy us we simply lazed for a siesta and then in early evening left the resort to wander about the village.

At nightfall we had dinner at a road side dhaba. As we were about to leave for the resort, a man who looked spooked walked up to the owner of the restaurant (dhaba) and enquired if any accommodation was available in the village. I interjected and told him that we are staying at a resort with 2 rooms and the other room is vacant.

He was delighted and he reassured his wife and kid in his car that their travails of the day are ending. I still wonder why was the man so spooked, did his imagination go crazy along the road did he start seeing ghosts in the shadows of the trees, did he have a near miss while driving.. I suppose I'll keep wondering.

My wife and I on the bike and this guy following us in the car. We turned off road into pitch darkness and this guy panics again. He honks like crazy I turn around go to him and he asks for reassurance that the resort does actually exist... I reassure him and we keep driving till we reach the resort..

We park out bike and this guy accompanies us to the resort ... where it is pitch black. (guess what power outage). I can't see the resort staff so I shout for them. Just as I do about 10,000 fireflies blink all at once... this is too much for the guys wife and kid, they start howling in fear. My wife reassures them, by this time we see a swinging lantern approaching us. I should inform the readers that in Hindi Cinema - Horror genre there is often a character of a caretaker who has a limp. Guess what the guy
approaching us with the lanters has a limp and he looks every bit the stereotypical character all hindi movie watchers have learnt to fear.

Anyway as he approaches I introduce this spooked guy to the resort guy and walk off (not wanting to overhear their price arrangements). I assume that as my wife and I started to walk away we must have faded into the darkness, into nothingness. Just as we had walked about 10 meters we heard the car screech and drive away like mad. I ran back to find the limping caretaker alone, I asked him what happened. He had no clue.

Anyway end of that, now my wife and I have to find some sleep and the glint of eyes of those taxidermied heads keeps us a bit on edge too until we find sleep.

Next morning we get out of there, need I say safe and in one piece, with another travel adventure to reminisce.
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