Okay, so I’ve been known to purposefully go out of my way to garner exciting stories in the past whilst on the road. These days, I’m less likely to find myself in trouble because I see no need to place myself in potentially troublesome situations for the sake of having something to write home about. However, that doesn’t mean to say that trouble doesn’t intermittently find me regardless, especially when I’m so prone to wandering off the beaten track at any given moment.
With Trivandrum at my feet for a full month, it’s only right that I get to know its neighbourhoods as intimately as possible. As it is, the area surrounding Thirumala is stunningly beautiful, not least if you cut through the middle of Pangode Military Station as I’ve found myself doing twice a day, on my way to and from the city centre. It’s a gorgeous walk in either direction.
It’s just a shame that I’ve marked myself out from the crowds by being the token out-of-towner to maraud through the base. To the bemused locals, I must look ridiculous, my bandanna, T-shirt, dust-smothered slacks and sandals making me stand out like a kangaroo in China. Less than an hour ago (just after 1 p.m. India-time), I was detained at the side of the main road by three white-shirted men who pulled over in a sleek car.
I was evidently suspicious, my calm demeanour doing me no favours. Perhaps they viewed me as a threat to National Security, proceeding to ask me why I was trooping through a military base. I responded by admitting that I loved to see the flora and fauna at either side of the carriageway, the vast wealth of trees looking a sight as they sought to shed their leaves. ‘Where is your passport?’ one of the men asked. ‘It’s where we’re staying,’ I gulped, realising I was entrenched in water deeper and hotter than first anticipated.
I was lucky in the sense that I had the full address of where we were staying to-hand, along with a phone number for the man in charge there. The man who’d taken it upon himself to do all the talking duly called the number to check my credentials.
He ended the call with a roll of his head. ‘I am free?’ I asked, sensing that my ‘alibi’ had unhooked me. ‘Yes – but don’t walk down here in future without a copy of your passport and visa.’ With that, all three men shook my hand before silently stepping back into their car and pulling away.
With a good two miles still to walk, I marched on faster than ever.