Pre-Carnival jitters

5th March 2011

I spent the next 24 pre-carnival hours boasting and gloating to all of my friends through all the social networking media’s.

I felt this behavior was justified, after all, how many people can say they were actually in the Rio carnival parade??! And wasn’t this the very essence of what Rio Carnival was all about??!

At 3.30pm, I met Kylie, Orla, Pip, Joe, and about 12 other tourists, who had paid handsomely for this amazing experience, at the apartment of our carnival orchestrator.

From 3.30pm to 5.30pm, each participant had been given a ‘We were in the Rio Carnival 2011’ T-shirt.

From 5.30 to 7pm we were shifted to a street parallel to the Sambadrome (where the parade is held), and there we sat on the street curb, in the heavy rains, with nothing but plastic bags over our heads wondering what the hell our 265USD had paid for?! ‘Bloody Karma! Serves me right for gloating to everyone on Facebook!’

Finally in the fourth hour, when spirits had reached the deliriously skeptical, someone yells out ‘The costumes are here!’

Seeing our costumes for the first time made me realise how ridiculous it was to worry about being made to wear too little, when in reality the costumes covered the body from head to toe in baggy whites, complete with a bulky gladiator style gold chest plate with green leafy scarf’s flowing from the shoulders, and a large yellow head-piece with tall bright yellow, orange and green feathers sticking out of it.

Yes, I represented a pineapple.

Kovalam Beach – Karma terror

If there was ever a place to ‘de-cult’, Kovalam beach was it. Kovalam Beach is a small touristy beach town, in the south state of Kerala only 15km out from Trivandrum. The beach is filled with volcanic black sand, fishermen, cafe’s, boutiques, and local salesmen who remember who you are, where you are going and what you have promised, Or should have promised to buy.

We booked ourselves into the Beach Hotel, which had 6 rooms directly on the beach boardwalk, where we could stare out to sea contemplating all that had happened and what it all meant.

Jennie, over her birthday dinner that night ‘I’m thinking of going back’

T – ‘I suggest you suit up and go armed with DEET.’ (the strongest bug repellant known to mankind)

That night, leaving dinner at a charming restaurant called Fusion early, I walk back to the hotel alone in the dark. There were a few comments from local Indian men that I chose to ignore, but overall I felt very safe.

Jaspreet enters our room only 15 minutes after me and we immediately start gas-bagging about our families, life interests, dreams, and the usual girly talk. Around 11pm we hear a wolf whistle come from outside but resonate clearly in our room. We pause for a second, then ignore, and continue our gossip session.

Ten minutes later we hear the whistle again, this time it sounds closer, clearer, like it’s coming from right outside our window. We pause for longer, and tense, but decide it’s just some idiot in front of the hotel, and not particularly aimed at us.

More talking. The whistle sounds again, this time on the other side of the room coming from our back window.

Jaspreet and I freeze. Creeped out, we pull our knees into our chest, sit deadly still, and listen for any clues to what this ghostly whistler was doing.

Whistle again at the back window

T, whispering – ‘I am NOT going outside to see who it is. I’ve watched enough horror movies to know that that’s how it all goes wrong.’

Jaspreet, fearfully as we huddle close together, too scared to move around the room –‘It makes you realise how protected we were at the Ashram’

We bravely crawl out of bed and stealthily check all the locks and bars, creeping low to the ground trying to decide what heavy furniture to push up against the door, but too scared to look directly out of the windows or make any noise.

Jaspreet – ‘I don’t want them to know there are only 2 girls in here’ blows her nose loudly like a foghorn

T – ‘Good idea’ following Jaspreets lead, does several manly, chesty, coughs.’If anything happens, I’ll grab the chair and you can use the clay vase’

Another whistle comes again from the front window. The creep was moving from our front to back windows, whistling and looking in.

We stay under the bed sheet, horrified, our eyes pinned to the triple-locked door in terror, wondering how much this person could see through the filtered window blinds.

Jaspreet – ‘That’s the thing about India, when the lights go down, the creeps come out.’

I wondered if this was ashram karma for initiating a mass exodus(?)

The next day I had a word to the very apologetic hotel manager who promised to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.