In the spirit of Halloween, The Boston Globe has compiled 12 short travel stories about some horrible experiences. These stories aren’t too outrageous, but they go above and beyond a typical bad trip. Still, they possess something all travelers can relate to. Here’s a selection from one story by Peter Mandel.
The soldier and the security guy are pointing. What do they want? It’s my pen. A Paper Mate soft grip. Also, my wallet. They start emptying the little pockets that hold cards.
“Hey,” I say. This brings instant reinforcements. Sullen faces. Khaki turbans. Guns under armpits, nightsticks stuck to hips.
It is late May. I am in Kashmir – that disputed northern region claimed by both India and Pakistan – one of a handful of tourists caught up during a spate of shootings and grenade blasts. Militants are striving for statehood. I’m anxious to escape.
I’ve been frisked four times, but no one’s even glanced at my passport. My suitcase must be radioactive thanks to repeated X-rays: at a checkpoint on the airport road, at the gate to the airport, and at check-in.
A soldier snatches my backpack. “You are a man,” he says. “It is forbidden for a man to bring his bag on the plane.” This can’t be right. He tugs at it. I tug back.
I hear the announcement: My flight to Delhi is closing. I pull out two crumpled 500 rupee notes (roughly $20). I watch the paper portraits of Gandhi as they pass from my hand to theirs.
The caps and turbans confer. I’m led out through a service entrance where there is no one around.
I am thinking of trying to make a run for it. A soldier grips me by the arm and hauls me behind a pile of suitcases. I’m made to bend down. This may be it. I wait for the shot.
I hear only a voice. It tells me to find my checked-through suitcase among the bags. I get to take it with me, and the forbidden backpack.
I say a silent thank-you to Gandhi.
That sounds like an awful time. You can read the other stories at Boston.com