A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
From nowhere, he was behind us. The elderly Indian caretaker of a jungle-covered substation in the Wayanad region of southern India was somehow suddenly right next to my guide and me. We'd briefly greeted through the fog outside his crumbling house on the hill, before spending the next 30 minutes negotiating the mud, foliage and leeches on our way down towards the main road.
This was a good old-fashioned Willard Price-style adventure with monkeys, giant squirrels, snakes, lizards, intensely coloured birds and sambar deer all making appearances on the hike. My guide warned that the nearby (unseen) elephants were more dangerous to humans than any tigers and all the while we flicked leeches from our socks with increasing mock nonchalance. I hate leeches.
Not expecting to see a large home in the middle of such dense jungle and cloud, I got a fright when a shadowy figure emerged in the doorway. Though I thought we'd found an abandoned property, this was the occupancy of a lean, grey-haired local who keeps the substation ticking over and bored teenagers (or wildlife) from claiming its attached house.
Unsure how he'd crept up on us, the first things I noticed were his bare legs and sandals. I was covered head to toe in insect repellent and had Christmas stocking-like leech socks up to my knees, but still the inching bloodsuckers were on me. Luckily they never got through to the skin -though they tried. If you stopped for more than a few seconds to take a photo, you were guaranteed to have four or five leeches on your sneakers and pants. But not the caretaker.
This mysterious man who'd ghosted us through the forest without making a sound was in a traditional rolled-up dhoti as he stood and chatted. Like me, my guide was proving equally appealing to the leeches and yet still, nothing on the caretaker. I asked (through translation) for an explanation as to why the leeches were avoiding him. Was there some traditional jungle remedy of something like crushed leaves smeared over the skin that I didn't know about? Apparently not. According to the caretaker, the leeches had got used to him decades ago and decided to let him be if he doesn't bother them. A spiel with a hefty dosage of shaggy-dog to it, though delivered with complete sincerity or unexpected deadpan. And so the mystery of the leech-free caretaker of the misty jungles of Wayanad remains. You wouldn't read about it.
Wonky sunset horizon photo lines
A quick pet-peeve about holiday photos. In this era of social media, of everyone having access to a camera and of the universal love of a half-decent sunset, I cannot stand a wonky horizon line. I can't will myself to click "like" on Facebook or Instagram posts of even close friends if it's a sunset with a diagonal line in front of it.
There's something subconsciously offensive about a wonky horizon line no matter the time of day, though it's especially bad and wrong at sunset. The photographer is saying, "look at how beautiful this is - don't you wish you were here!?", while providing an image that is physically impossible. Our brains know it too, even if some of us struggle to articulate why some sunset photos work and others underwhelm. But here's a tip, if no-one is clicking "like" on your social media sunset pics, try straightening that horizon line.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the RoxboroghReport.com
Want more holiday inspiration? Sign up to our new Travel Insider newsletter here.