20 Members Of Indian Army Come With Machine Guns To Stop My Exhibitionism

Four years ago I was in Kashmir. This beautiful province of India, however, is a police state. Walking down the streets and along the roads outside Srinagar, it is common to see a military man with a machine gun every 100 yards. Every intersection has a cluster of men. The day I left, there was a general strike meaning that I could not take a taxi (or a free ride I would have been offered otherwise by friends I had made) to the airport due to fear that strikers would damage any vehicle on the road. Therefore, I had to leave my hotel at 4:30 a.m. to make the 7 km hike to the airport. On it, I was stopped 7 times and my bags were searched 4 times by the military. But my exhibitionism story is about the days before that.

I found a very nice, modern, new hotel with a reasonable rate when I arrived in town. Whenever traveling outside the U.S., I always check the view from the room to see if there are chances for exposure. Here, it seemed things were limited, because my hotel was higher than all the buildings around. I was on the 5th floor. I could see some buildings maybe 50 yards away that were only 2 stories high, but that was about it.

I kept my curtains open and my lights on when I was in the room in the evenings. In the daytime and the evening, I sometimes stood by the window and *********** while facing those buildings I could see. In time, I realized that they were filled with men. I could see them coming and going from the building to what was apparently a bath house toward the rear. But for the most part, only the men in a corner area were there regularly so that they could see me. In time, I realized that this was apparently a facility to house the soldiers who are used to "maintain the peace" in Kashmir. What they really do is watch the local people very carefully to make sure that no one protests, no one demonstrates, etc. Talking with locals, I soon learned that as Muslims they do not want to be a part of India any longer. They don't want to be a part of Pakistan either. Instead, they would like to be totally independent. Instead, they have lived decades under this tight pressure to accept that they are a part of India and to stop any actions that might show their desires to be otherwise.

As the days passed, I do not know how many different men saw me from the military building while going to the showers or manning the guardhouse at the corner. One day, I saw a young man from my hotel walking along the side road between the military building and a house that may have been the home of an officer. I know he saw me, because he pointed and said something to the other man walking beside him.

The big event occurred the night before the day of my early departure for the airport. I went to dinner. When I returned to the hotel at 7:30 p.m., I already planned to ask the management to make sure I was awake at 4:00 since I needed to walk to the airport. As I entered the hotel, there were 20 Indian soldiers holding machine guns talking to the people at the desk. I realized it was possibly about me. This was confirmed in my mind when the hotel employee who had seen me from the road pointed to me and said something (probably, "There he is,") as I entered. Therefore, I quickly decided the only plan of action was just to boldly walk to the desk, ignore the soldiers, ask for my key, tell the desk that I needed them to awaken me at 4:00 since I needed to walk to the airport due to the general strike, and walk up the stairs to my room. It worked.

When I got to the room, I was nervous. Indians LOVE their authority. Many use it to try to bribe tourists caught in situations that might scare them into thinking they are in trouble. I immediately closed my curtains and started packing for leaving the next morning. A few moments later, there was a knock at my door. I opened it fearing that the soldiers could be there. I was relieved that it was an official of the hotel. He immediately looked at my window and noticed the closed curtains. All he said to me was, "Be sure to keep your curtains closed this evening." Then he turned and went away. I had dodged a bullit probably due to the fact that none of the military men could speak English and that I was leaving the next morning. Otherwise, I don't know what might have happened.
dansktex dansktex
61-65, M
Jul 11, 2010