This is indeed an experience to teach us how to follow our gut feeling and say, “NO!” at the right moment. Unfortunately we couldn’t, therefore our experience in Puri added a touch of disappointment.

When we arrived Puri in the morning, a rickshaw driver took us to a lodge, owned by two brahmin brothers. The lodge indeed has a very nice courtyard and pleasant sitting areas. Its roof terrace has ok view to the sea and part of the neighborhood. We sort of like its environment, it felt like a homestay.

The younger brother eagerly showed us around. “Hot water provided in bucket everyday, safety locker service for no extra charge, cheaper room rate if you stay longer, kept luggage for free after check out if you need…” A long list of promises went on and on….

We finally settled the price of Rs300 per night and for 3 nights. He then asked for payment in advance. Our first alarm rang! We’ve never done that and no guesthouse had asked before. But we felt after 20 minutes of negotiation, it was rude to walk out. So, we submitted to his request, Rs900 for 3 nights. We paid Rs1000 but no sign of getting the change back. When we asked, he showed us the receipt, 10% (Rs90) of tax on top. So, we ended up paying Rs990 instead. “Now make yourself at home while staying here.” The younger brother had said.

Every foreign traveller is required to fill a complete check-in form, so did we. Upon finished filing up our particulars, the younger brother told us that he would like to set up a school for poor children. Our second alarm knocked! Sure enough, he asked us for donation and we were sucessfully block him out. At the end he was partially pissed and dismissed us. That was rather rude I thought.

Alex, my warrior who temporary kept the giant lizard out of our room...

The evening came, I asked for a bucket of hot water. As the younger brother’s promise, we should get hot water everyday. More than an hour later, no sign of hot water. I went down to check, “Hot water not possible.” The younger brother said. “Due to problem in boiling hot water… It is only possible between 7am to 5pm.” He added when I showed him my long face. Then, we settled it at 7.30am next morning instead. “Yes, yes, yes, no problem.”

Next day, 8.15am, it was still no sign of the bloody hot water. So, we went out for breakfast and sight seeing, came back in late afternoon, I blusted to the older brother. Finally we got it, except only one bucket instead of two as we initially agreed.

The older brother told us that they have safety locker, no extra charge and convinced us to store our important stuff with him. So we did… partially at least. We put together some important stuff in a small pouch and handed it to him. “We have our bag, keep your pouch.” He told us to unlock it, then our third alarm was kicking real hard! He took out every items, registered them onto a form. “That’s it? Rs2000 only? No camera or traveller’s cheque?” I looked at him and shaked my head. “Oh, you use card, right?” Both of us sat motionless. He kept our new Rs2000 notes seperately, “in case you need them.” He instructed us to put all other items back into the pouch and stored it. To collect stuff from safety locker required one hour advance notice… I collected the pouch on our 3rd night, everything was fine except the Rs2000 wasn’t the new notes I originally kept with him. I checked every pieces and commanded him to replace those I suspected fake.

The lodge's prayer place which they furiously prayed round the clock!

They also suggested other stuff such as sight seeing from 8am to 5pm, only Rs150 per head; massage for Rs250 per hour; ticket booking but no mention of commission… By then all our alarms had turned RED and jumping non stop. We were no longer believe any single letter came out from their mouths. We shutted our mouths and kept our pockets tight. The courtyard was no longer charming, it was forever occupied by their own people, staring at us everytime we passed. Neither friendly nor rude.

When we finally checked out, the younger brother asked us for safety locker fee Rs50, storage for luggage Rs50 if we NEEDED. “Please tell other people to come.” He handed out some cards to both of us.