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A to Z Challenge: M is for Mosquito Nets

By Wednesday, April 15, 2015 ,

This post originally appeared as part of the A to Z Challenge, and was called 'M is for Mosquito Nets'.

My first (and so far only) time in India did not leave a great impression.

I was going for work, and they hadn't given us much information, we only found out which town we'd be in a week before our flights.

In fact, things had been left so late that they couldn't find a hotel for us, instead they told us they'd booked a furnished apartment and everything would be taken care of. They were so confident that everything had been planned for that all they told us was someone would meet us at the airport and take us to an apartment somewhere - at first they didn't even give us an address.

My colleague and I both asked different people about what we should bring, mosquito nets in particular. They said, nope, everything was arranged.
But when we arrived there were no blankets, no towels, no toilet paper (thankfully I'd brought my own), no plates, no forks, all that was in each bedroom was a bed and a built in bookcase - not even a bed side table for my glasses or a place for clothes. Only one bathroom had hot water to shower in.

There was no internet.

There were also no mosquito nets (but plenty of mosquito). And no where to hang the nets from.

We did have plug in mosquito repellents in each of the rooms, but I guess they hadn't been in long enough to take effect.

The person responsible for setting us up in the apartment (I'm not sure what the official relationship is between the institute and the landlord, but they've rented it out before) told us we'd have to wait for tomorrow for blankets and mosquito nets. It was 2pm, and he told us it was too late to do anything that day.

Our feet turned black after walking across the floor.

My suitcase hadn't made it, either. Our flight into Dubai was late and in a horrible twist of fate, the luggage dropped off first at check in was left in the back of the luggage hold in the plane. So my suitcase was left behind because I'd checked in early.

I was left feeling lonely and isolated in a shell of an apartment. That night I couldn't sleep despite only sleeping about 3 hours on the plane. 

Overall, it had been a really bad start to the trip. I wonder now how my feelings for those two weeks I spent in India would have been different if the apartment was set up when we arrived and it was a little nicer. For example, there was no coffee maker or kettle and we didn't know how much money we'd be getting everyday to cover food expenses was.

Still, we had to make the best of it.

Fortunately, the professor we were there to work for had extra mosquito nets, blankets and towels for us. Normally there are either places in the walls and ceiling to tie the net to, or a four poster frame work over the bed for the net to hang from (something like these). Since we didn't have any of those we had to get creative.

My colleague tried to stick her net to the ceiling using adhesive bandages. They stayed up for about 40 minutes before falling down, one by one. She ended up having to close one corner in the door and let the others drape over the bed frame.

I put my blanket fort building skills to use. I tied two of the corners of the net to the bars on the window above the bed, and the other two to chairs from the dining room.
The inside of my fort
My colleague bought the most elaborate fly swatter I've ever seen. It looked like a small tennis racked or maybe a badminton racket, with a network of wires running between the stringed area. But there were batteries in the handle and a button on the side, and when you held the button electricity ran through those wires, and anytime a mosquito came into contact with it....


We also had a balcony porch, and lived above a trio of French ladies. Those wonderful people who arranged the apartment for us added a third person to our apartment a few days before we left, and on our last day, we woke up to a fourth person sleeping on the doorstep! (I knew one of them, and my colleague knew the other, so they weren't complete strangers) So for the last night, there were four of us in a three bedroom apartment.

I guess a bad first impression makes a great excuse for a second visit.

The view from the balcony

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  1. Nice improvisation with the chair and window (also, I love that you thought to take a photo of your setup).

  2. That was definitely a rocky start to your stay but it gave you a great story. Thanks for sharing!

    Faye at Destination: Fiction