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Saturday, 22 May 2010

Day 24: Things that go bump in the night

A day late, but a tiny bit richer, we made it to gorgeous deserted Agonda Beach and the coco huts that were to be our home for the next two days.

Our shack was #3, a lovely one-room shack on stilts with a bed, a bathroom and a verranda with a hammock and two deck chairs. All in all about 13 square meters of joy.
This is a town in post-high season deconstruction. Literally. Huts that would not withstands the monsoon rains were being taken down around us, so apart from the odd bit of banging, we had the beach to ourselves.
It was great to pass the day swimming and snoozing and seeing no-one else. I'm not going to lie and suggest that the past (almost) month has been difficult but if one was lookin for total relaxation; here would be the place.

These were our thoughts as we lay in bed watching the purple sunset turn gold and feeling the soft sea breeze through the double doors as we drigted off to sleep.

A loud crash from the verranda woke us suddenly. It was pitch black in our shack with only a thin shard of light cast from the moon crossing the room.
I reached for Rob - we were both instantly alert and before we could speak we became acutely aware that we were no longer alone.

As I mentioned earlier, the shacks are built on stilts - this means that any steps onto or inside the shack reverbarated in a comforting groan on the stilts. Now however, in the dead of night, these rumblings were anything but comforting.
We lay in silence.
Then into the moonlight, just a meter from the bed, a shadow emerged. First the outline of a head, and then two feet. Moving accross the room towards our rucksacks our guest paused, as if he had felt our eyes on him. The air was still for surely neither Rob nor I had breathed since the shadow had crept along the floor in front of us.
The intruder stayed rigid. What would he do? How could we stop it? What should we do? Panic had taken hold but it seemed our visitor was perfectly relaxed. Turning slightly, causing the softest of creaking in the floorboards, he tuned, sat, drew his tail around his neck and lay, motionless.

It is true that Agonda Beach, like all of India, is full of stray dogs. We hadn't undertaken three rabies jabs for nothing. But in that moment, as we lay behind a thin mosquito net staring at the outline of a wild and potentially rabid animal - the fear was tangible.

If there was one, how many more? Had they entered already without knocking over a deckchair? Was our floor lined with sleeping canine landmines? Would we be attacked if we left the safety of the bed? Should we make noise to scare it or would this provoke it?
The lightswitch was on the otherside of the room by the open doors, out of reach, and Rob quickly became convinced that there was also another dog directly below him, under the bed.

At length we passed a bottle of water that was nearby along the floor against the one exposed side of the bed. It made it from one end to the other without htting any obstacles but our intruder started to growl in a low and menacing tone. Deep noises that I imagined passing through foamy lips and ino our room.
Again we lay still and nothing moved.
We spoke in whispers: should we just leave him there til daylight? No. Then Rob, and I am sure no braver thin has ever been done with a water bottle, stamped the container against the floor. The beast flinched, obviously put out by the clamour.
Again our hero thrust the bottle against the floor, again and again, until with a breif growl we saw the skinny shadow of the animal step out into the moonlight.
Now to the light switch.
We surveyed the damage. Nothing had changed. Our room was as if nothing had happened but our hearts were racing.

Even with the doors closed, the howls of the dogs stopped sleep for me that night and when the sun rose the bodies of three dogs lay in peaceful slumber on our verranda.

The saying goes that a dog is a man's best friend. Let me tell you: this has never been said by an Indian.


  1. I thought I was being naive for checking the blog so soon after the last post and at like 7 in the morning- but no. I'm glad I did.
    *Pats Rob on the back*

  2. Hehe, i was watching Hound of the Baskervilles the other day.

  3. goodness how scary is that! Well done ROB!!! and thank you. Another one to write up to experience...... you are hving a very eventful time aren't you! never a dull moment...

  4. Trish said

    That's my Boy - knights not quite in shining armour spring to mind! Great read - Sherlock Holmes would have been proud. xxxx