Getting Robbed in India

During my travels in Kolkata India, I was robbed in the middle of the night in my hotel room.  It was a terrifying experience but one that has made me a better traveller. This is my story…

A question that I have often gotten from people is, “what is your favourite country that you’ve been to?”  This question may be tough for most because every country is different and comes with its own unique experiences.  However, after exploring eighteen countries, I have to give my hat off to India.

India is a country of extreme contrast.   You either love it or you hate it.  In my case, I grew to love it.  It took me a good month of traveling throughout India until I developed a long lasting love for this crazy place.  It didn’t take too long before I realized that it would be the country that I constantly return to throughout my life.  In fact, it only took me three months after leaving India until I booked a ticket back to the magical land.

The second time around, I went with my fiancé (now husband) Siya.  Siya and I decided to fly into Kolkata because it was not only the cheapest option but I had heard it was a pretty interesting city to visit.  After months of talking up India to Siya, he became excited to make his own great experiences in the country.  Little did we know that our first night, and Siya’s first impression of India, wouldn’t be the greatest.

Upon landing in Kolkata, Siya and I went on a guest house hunt.  We checked out quite a few before deciding on one called Diplomat Hotel.  As soon as we entered through the doors of the hotel, the man at the front desk took us to a room for us to check out.  After telling us that he would give us the room for fifty rupees cheaper than the original price, we agreed on staying.  The place was basic.  It was clean enough and the staff seemed friendly.  After spending the rest of the day exploring Kolkata, Siya and I headed back to our room to get some sleep.  The next thing I knew, I was woken up at 6AM by Siya (who NEVER willingly wakes up this early) in a panic.  “Kristen! I can’t find my new watch or MP3 Player,” he said.  I responded by telling him his MP3 Player was charging next to my lap top which was beside the bed.  “It’s not there! Someone took our stuff!” he shouted.  I jumped out of bed and began to search through my purse.  “My camera is gone!” I shouted.  “Mine is gone too, along with my money,” Siya replied.

That is when our situation went from good to bad.  We were experiencing a traveller’s worst nightmare.

It turns out that someone had slid open the window above our bed, put their hand through, unlocked the door and came into our room all while we were asleep.  The robbers proceeded to only take valuables which would fit through the bars of the washroom window, which led to an outside ally.

After searching all over the hotel, we demanded to speak to the hotel owners.  After explaining to them what had happened, they flat out told us that we were lying.   The managers told us many times they had called the cops to come to the hotel,  yet there was no site of any police.  Siya took things into his own hands and walked to the police station, filed a police report and brought five police officers, followed by news reporters and camera crews, back to the hotel.  The hotel owners were not impressed.

The police took the situation very seriously.  After investigating the situation, they had concluded that we were, in fact, spot on about what had happened.  Someone has come into our room by putting their arm through the window, proceeded to take all of our valuables that would fit through the bars of the washroom window.   The police deemed he room we had slept in as unsafe and that no one was able to stay in that room until the window was fixed.  After the officers inspected the rest of the hotel and yelled at the hotel staff, Siya and I drove back to the police station to file a report.

The police officer in charge of our case continued to search for our items as we moved on our India journey.  We kept in contact with him for the next month, but unfortunately our valuables were never found. Case closed.

Although we lost some of our valuables, the most precious being out pictures from out travels, the situation could have been a lot worse.  We were unharmed and that was what was most important. Siya and I like to think that those who robbed us did it for a greater good such as paying a medical bill or feeding their family.  We were also very impressed with how the Kolkata police department took our case.  After all, the last thing they want are foreigners feeling unsafe in their country.

WAIT, the story doesn’t stop there…

As I wrote at the beginning: India is a place of extreme contrast.  From Kolkata, I flew to Chennai where I met a very nice Indian family, while Siya flew to Nepal for his own solo adventure.

Upon arriving at the airport in Chennai, I was discussing prices with a rickshaw driver the price to take me into town when a very kind Indian lady approached me.  The Indian lady told me that her, her friend and daughter would be happy to drive me into town.  After just experiencing getting robbed, I still felt that I could trust this lady.  Going with my instincts, I took the offer.  After driving around town looking for a hotel within my price budget, I was unable to find one.  The Indian lady asked me if I wanted to stay at her house for the night.  Again, I felt safe and that I could trust these people, so I agreed.

Little did I know that I would be staying in a gorgeous mansion with a very kind family.  It had turned out that the entire family worked in film industry, which of course intrigued me even more.  It turned out the father of the family is a producer and the grandfather was a very famous cinematographer in India.  The daughter had just finished her studies in television and film and the mother helped out a lot on her husband’s sets.  The family gave me my own room and washroom for the night and fed me enough in one day to keep me full for a week.  The following morning, when I was getting ready to leave to Auroville, the family made me promise that I would come back and stay with them again.

The kindness of the family taught me an even more important lesson than what I learned from getting robbed.  I learned that misfortunes happen and there are cruel people in this world, but it’s important to not close yourself off and lose trust in humanity when bad things happen.  It is important to always follow your gut and remember that with every misfortune comes good-fortune and that there are kind, generous and loving people in this world.

Siya and I had our experience reenacted in an episode of Bad Trips Abroad. If you seen the episode, let us know below. If not, you can watch a short clip from the episode above!

Have you experience misfortune while travelling?

Kristen Sarah is a full-time traveller, tiny home owner and adventure junkie. She has one of the leading YouTube travel channels and is the head honcha of award-winning travel and lifestyle website, Hopscotch the Globe.
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8 Comments

  1. June 23, 2012 / 7:02 am

    Still undecided if I want to visit India or not. Thanks for helping sway me more towards yes though 🙂

  2. June 19, 2012 / 10:07 pm

    Can’t wait to go to India, but I would have to get out of the city and into more rural areas pretty quick to avoid going nuts. Sorry to hear about the bad stuff, but glad to hear you can appreciate all the good things the country has to offer. Hope you get your stuff back!

  3. Lori48oak
    April 2, 2011 / 7:42 pm

    oh wow–what stories–youare living my dream– we will be in india in decemer (rajasthan/Delhi/etc) but only for a imited visit– I can’t wait to read more about your adventures-

    • Anonymous
      May 7, 2011 / 7:09 am

      Rajasthan is really amazing. The colours, the people, the landscapes. It’s a whole other world. You will love it:)

  4. Siya Zarrabi
    March 30, 2011 / 5:12 am

    I decided to hike the Himalayas in Nepal while Kristen was on her family-fun adventure. I’m so glad that she met them and I would love to go back and see them too. We are meeting again in a week in North India. Originally, I was so angry with India that I canceled all my flights to other countries and was going to fly back home. I had lost over $1000 in money and belongings and I didn’t want to risk the rest of my baggage being victims of the same fate. After seeing the “contrast” from the Hotel staff to the Kolkata Police Officers I decided that India does surprise you and I couldn’t end my travels on a bad note. I also wanted to give India another chance. I’m excited to go back (more cautious of course) and study Yoga and Meditation from it’s homeland.

    Experiencing the Himalayas without a camera was upsetting at first but it gave me the opportunity to sit back, take in my surroundings and use the ancient “pen and paper” of my journal to create visual memories for others to see.

    Theft happens all of the world, I’m just thankful that we are both safe and our passports weren’t taken. phewf…

  5. Jennifer
    March 26, 2011 / 4:59 pm

    Is siya gone now!? How come he wasn’t with you when you stayed with this family?

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