Eli and I took a train from Kanya Kumari to Madurai. It was a 5 hour trip and we loved it. When we got to Madurai it was 11 pm. We flagged a rickshaw and asked the driver to take us to a hotel recommended by Lonely Planet. Boy did that rickshaw driver want us to stay in other places – about 5 other places – all of which would give him a commission if we would just stay there. Rickshaw drivers work so hard and the rickshaw drivers in Madurai are especially underemployed I've been told. I don't blame them for hustling – it's their livelihood after all and anyway everybody on the planet is hustling, including all the other hotel owners who didn't get a listing in Lonely Planet. Anyway, I ignored Eli's objections and said we'd go look at one of the driver's recommended places. It was definitely cheap all right. But I got 3 mosquito bites per minute as I was looking around and I had decided ahead of time I would do whatever I could to get us a night or two of mosquito free sleep. So I said “no”. But once you've given the impression that you might say “yes” it's a slippery slope. It took a lot of doing to get that rickshaw driver to deliver us to our requested destination.
We settled into our room which was tiny but adequate and – mosquito free! I unpacked a few thing and then I realized that the baby wipes were missing!
But first let me back up.........When we were deciding what to bring to India we relied heavily on an excellent website – onebag.com – to pack in a way that would be lean and allow us to carry-on. One Bag has a “Universal Packing List” but of course you don't need everything on that list for every trip. We decided early on to NOT include boots and warm jackets. But the decision about toilet paper and wet wipes was not so easy. We had heard that there was NO toilet paper anywhere in India and you must NEVER shake anyone's left hand. I was a little nervous about the hygiene of my derrière and of my left hand. I thought, well maybe since I'm packing so light I can splurge and bring just one roll of T.P. and a small pack of baby wipes. So I did.
Since that daring decision, we have carefully hoarded the baby wipes – so carefully, in fact, that we have not even used them. Each night we carefully count them up to make sure none are missing. When we leave the room we lock them up with the cables and padlock we brought. When we travel we always carry them under our clothing, right next to our skin, in a special baby-wipe belt. We NEVER flash them around in public, thereby alerting wipe thieves.
So you can imagine my dismay when I unpacked my backpack and ….the baby wipes are missing!!! I started to imagine some seriously talented thief silently and quickly unzipping the side-pocket, and slipping out the precious bundle of wet wipes. Eli looked at me strangely – but he is so young and inexperienced! What does he know of the way of the world where baby wipes are bought and sold on the black market with no pity for the wipe-less victims.
By now it was 1 am in the morning. I considered taking a train back to Madurai to search for the stolen wipes. But the train station was closed....all I could do was lie down and sink into a restless sleep, disturbed by nightmares of stolen wipes.
In the morning, as I looked through my luggage for my bathroom kit, I found the missing wipes. There are only two possible explanations: either the thief had a conversion in the middle of the night and – being the clever talented thief that he is – sneaked into our hotel room through the narrow bars on the window – (he would also have to have been a very thin thief); or, due to having visited the temple of the goddess Kanya Kumari, who cleans everything up, we were granted a boon and and the wipes were restored to us.