Leg From a Man in India

The Day I Saw a Headless Man in India (How Would You React?)

Derek India, Perspectives, Travel Tales 173 Comments

Leg From a Man in India

There I was, sitting on a metal chair inside of the ‘Upper Class Waiting Room’ at the train station in the Indian city of Gwalior. My Wander Across India tour group and I had about an hour before our train to Varanasi would depart and I was perfectly content to just sit there and stare at the walls to pass the time. I stare at the walls, lost in thought, quite often during my visits to India, most likely because this country constantly feeds me experiences that require an abnormally long time to process.

At one point during that hour-long wait, I needed to use the bathroom, and so I walked out of the waiting room and onto the platform. I turned left and started walking towards a sign that had a picture of a urinal on it. As I walked towards that sign, I remember looking around at some of the people I was passing. The platform was quite crowded, as many Indian train station platforms tend to be, but I distinctly recall seeing one man to my right who was resting with his head on his duffel bag, and a few feet further along, another man dressed in all white who was sleeping soundly next to the wall on my left.

I entered the bathroom, waited in line for about two minutes for a urinal to be free, relieved myself and washed my hands. And then, with little else to do, I began to walk back towards the waiting room.

And as I walked along the platform once again, I naturally passed the man who was sound asleep moments before, dressed in all white. But as I came upon him this time around, I instantly froze, very much unable to take another step as I stood only five feet away from him. Chills ran through my body, my eyes suddenly opened wide and refused to blink and my brain clearly had no idea how it should react.

The man’s body was lying on its back, but his head had been sliced off and was propped, with eyes open, on top of his knees. There was little blood on his white clothes, and little on the platform as well, but you could tell that whatever had happened had happened quite recently as his face, apart from no longer being attached to his neck, looked fully alive. A few people slowly began to gather. Three police officers were on the scene, standing ten feet off to the side, one drinking chai, as they nonchalantly chatted to each other. A random man walked up to the head, grabbed it by the hair, lifted it up a few inches, then put it back down before walking away. A different man started laughing out loud. Another man took a photo with his phone.

And still, there I stood, the feeling of nausea growing stronger, yet with my eyes unable to turn away. I stood there for about three minutes.

Finally, as the crowd around the body became larger, I managed to pull myself from the scene and after one last glance at the head, at the eyes, at the neck that had been sliced so cleanly through, I forced myself to continue down the platform. But I must have looked back at least twenty times before I reached the entrance of the waiting room.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the wait before our departure to Varanasi staring at the walls once again, quite disturbed. I also spent a significant portion of the night on board that Bundelkhand Express train wrapped up in a blanket in my little bed, trying to handle the image of the man’s body and head that was constantly flashing in my mind.

And with each of those flashes, I felt a sudden urge to vomit, an urge that luckily passed each time without becoming a reality. I did manage to drift off once in a while but the first thing that popped into my head as soon as I would snap out of my light sleep was always the same thing.

Even now, a few days later, the man’s face is as clear as if it was right in front of me, and I have a feeling it’s going to stay that way for a long, long time.

This is India. No, it’s not full of headless bodies. But yes, it is full of unique experiences that can have a major impact on a traveler.

India jolts me, it shakes up my brain to the point where I must constantly think about life, I must constantly re-evaluate everything I know, or think I know, about how life is supposed to work. I am forced to process sights and situations that my mind does not normally process. And as difficult as it can be to process some of these experiences, I do believe that such a jolt is healthy. It ensures that our way of thinking does not become stale and that we think about things beyond our typical daily lives every now and then.

And regardless of whether the experiences that give me such a jolt are unimaginably disturbing or unimaginably beautiful – most of the life-changing experiences I’ve had in India have indeed brought smiles to my face – all of those experiences have eventually led me to think long and hard about my own life as well, as most intense and deep experiences tend to do.

Am I living the life I truly want? Am I happy? Am I being as good of a person as I can be? Are my priorities in order?

And, with my Wander Across India tour having now come to an end last night and a quiet two-week period in Goa about to begin tomorrow, these are indeed the questions that I will spend much time contemplating in the days ahead.

Yes, it is all thanks to the image of that headless body and that body-less head right there on that train platform in Gwalior, that image that seems to have no intention of disappearing from my mind any time soon, that image that has woken my brain from another sleep. And of course, I could just try to push that image out of my head, but I think I’ll choose to dwell on it instead, to accept the challenge that such an experience presents, and ultimately, to see how I answer the above questions that now sit before me.

How would you react if you saw something similar? What are some intense experiences you’ve gone through during your travels, whether disturbing or beautiful?


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Comments 173

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  2. Bhavika

    Whoa, whoa there. First of all, about half of these people are saying ‘How can THE Indians just watch?’. I would much rather prefer ‘those people’ or ‘those Indians’. Second of all, how does everybody believe this as true? I myself was born and raised in California, but I’ve been there multiple times and even stayed and went to school there for a year. Which part of India is this in? Indian people are still people. They’re normal. The way you wrote it, anybody would think that we’re savages who go around taking photos of random beheaded corpses that don’t faze us in the least. And lastly, I don’t think that the photo at the top is a human bone. I don’t think you have proof to prove this, and you can tell just by looking at it that it’s too big to be human. I think that it might be from a cow, buffalo, or some other sort of livestock.

    I’m sorry if I appeared too straightforward and rude, but this is just plain outrageous, especially the fact that people are so quick to believe this just because it happens in India, which is not a vulgar place filled with dead bodies [which I have never seen in India].

    Please don’t strike down all of India and all the people just because some are bad. No matter how many times we learn this lesson through books and other forms, we fall for it every time.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Bhavika – I think you’re looking a little too much into this. First, that is a human bone. The dog was eating human toes on one end. Second, you don’t have to believe it, doesn’t matter to me. As I said, this was in Gwalior, at the train station. And I don’t think anyone would think Indians are savages based on this. I write about my experiences and what I saw. Am I not supposed to write about anything that might not be perceived as fully positive? It’s an experience I had and I wrote exactly what happened. I was with the group I was leading at the time. One of the members went outside to look at the scene afterward. It happened, I have no reason to make this up.

      Also, if you take some time to look at my blog, I’ve spent a ton of time in India, I write about it extensively, always talking about how it is my favorite country to visit and how it has more to offer than any other I’ve been to. I lead tours there, several per year. You won’t find anyone else who talks about this country in as positive a way as I do overall 🙂

      Anyway, seems like you just got a bit worked up. I’m not really sure why you see this as ‘outrageous’. That’s a bit much. People write negative things about the US all the time, do you get upset every time someone paints the country in a negative way?

      1. Bhavika

        How do those look like toes to you? Have you got scientific evidence that that is a human bone?You don’t anybody would think Indians as savages based on this? Just read through your comments, especially the one by Anonymous but I left my email anyways. And no, I believe it wrong to write about things that are not true and then claim them to be real. Just because you’ve written well about the country in other posts doesn’t mean that writing this post is justified and good. And no reason to make this up? You got 186 comments on this. You get popularity. Isn’t that a reason enough for some?

        1. Wandering Earl

          I agree, it is wrong to make up things but I don’t need to make things up to get a popular post. I could care less. You obviously are not familiar with my blog or with me, so before you make such accusations, I suggest you do some research. Second, it looks like toes because I was there. I took the photo from 4 feet away. That is a heel on the left side and the dog is licking where the toes are. I’m sorry to say my friend, but whether you like it or not, these things happened.

      2. Rumela

        Hey,headless people in platforms in India is as uncommon here as in anywhere else.As for the rapes there are more rapes in the U.S. than in India

  3. ro

    That was sooooo scary. I can’t believe what those 3 freaks did to him! Btw I saw some comments here that it was a suicide.. i kinda don’t get it. How did he do suicide by putting his head on the railway line when he was sleeping next to the wall on your left. I’m just confused. Sorry about my english.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ro – I think people meant that he committed suicide and his body was moved to the platform against the wall. And perhaps someone moved his head for some bizarre reason (it’s not too far-fetched).

  4. James

    I always heard that India was a huge shock to the system, but this just tops anything that I’ve ever heard about this place … quite disturbing!

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  6. Badum Beedum

    How did it happen? How could a man suddenly go from sleeping peacefully to dead and beheaded? How is this possible? Did someone kill him? Why were the police so calm? Why did the Indians react so calmly to death, as though it were a spectacle or show instead of a horror?

  7. Sam

    oh gosh Earl – a “this post is Graphical” warning next time!
    That’s just awful!!!
    Its like a car crash or a big butt (sorry!) its mesmerizing – your brain is screaming to look away but you cant get your body to move!

    Sorry you saw just a horrific sight and i hope its not burnt into your memory for too long! You will need to go out and do a bunch of fun things to forget it!

  8. Surya Bhattacharya

    WHAT?! Wow!! 24+ years in India and I’ve THANKFULLY never come across such a scene! You mean you saw him with his head intact on your way to the toilet, and he was headless on your way back? Or was he headless throughout and you didn’t notice?
    I don’t know… I’M JUST TRYING TO MAKE SOME SENSE!!! How disturbing!!

  9. Gabriel

    Wow, that’s intense. I’ve been through some pretty crazy experiences in life but to see a head fully separated from a persons body just hanging out there would be shocking. Not sure what I would do or how I would react. It’s one of those “I’d have to be there” moments.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey John – Well, the photo at the top of the post is one I took earlier this year when I saw two dogs eating a human leg on the side of the Ganges River. And honestly, I’ve seen more dead bodies in India than I have anywhere else…I don’t even know if I’ve seen a dead body anywhere else. Apart from that though, nothing as shocking as this headless man.

      1. Lokesh

        Dead bodies at the banks of ganges is nothing new. Many Hindus believe dieing at the banks of ganges is sacred act and leave their house when they believe there time is up.

        The Headless body, It might be suicide or mostly someone might have cut as well. I am from Bengaluru so we rarely see such incidents but i have heard in many other parts of india there are rowdy group who constantly fight among themselves and that means few causalities as well.

  10. Ron | Active Planet Travels

    Wow that’s right up there with watching a monk catch himself on fire in Tibet. That must have been crazy too see. It took a while but now I’m used to seeing goat, cow or even a dog with his head cut off but a human body? That’s just insane! I’m glad to see you still have your sanity…errr…sort of. 😉

  11. Nicola

    Recently decapitated corpses are seen pretty much on a daily basis on the busy commuter routes of the world’s railways. I would think that you statistically as likely to see such a thing in London or New York and people in the emergency services are no strangers to such sights. However, it is acknowledged that shocked bystanders may need help coping with the aftermath, don’t be shy about seeking it if the intrusive images persist. (Dogs fighting over what appears to be human flesh is another matter altogether and perhaps that photograph requires a different type of context). Gwallior is utterly magnificent, its mixture of cultural influences and millennia of history left me spellbound. I hope that this incident has not tainted your perception of the region.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nicola – I think the stats are much higher for India as it happens on a much more regular basis given that people are always running after trains and trying to jump on them despite the crowds and the fact that they are already moving. That doesn’t really happen in more Western cities. And the incident certainly didn’t taint my perception of the region…I’ve spent over 2.5 years in India in total and that has certainly helped me to handle almost anything!

  12. Zara Sproul

    Wow… I have, sadly, heard many stories similar to this one reading about Varanasi as I plan future trips. That will probably, like everyone seems to say, fade in time but never be forgotten. Its interesting that you note that death is a recurring theme in Varanasi… Did you find that it detracted in your enjoyment in visiting that part of India? I am really keen to go and see what its like and experience the culture there – but at the same time, I am not sure that I would react well to things like this that you have been exposed to… although I do try to remind my self that it is all part and parcel of the ‘travelling’ experience, it seems a bit too far for me!

    I hope you enjoyed your trip other wise 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Zara – The thing is, with India, I don’t look at it as a destination that offers the same experience as many other countries. My reason for going there is to challenge myself and experience things that I would not experience anywhere else. And seeing death up close is one of those things that naturally, forces me to think a great deal about my life and about life in general. So it didn’t detract from my experience because I am not always focused on pure enjoyment over there…most of the time it’s about the education, in whatever form it comes. For me, that’s what traveling is all about.

  13. Peter Christmas

    Maybe it was a suicide earlier in the day and the police had attended and were just waiting for someone to collect the body. Maybe they left the body with the head in place and you just thought he was sleeping, why wouldn’t you and in the time you were in the washroom some ‘joker’ had put the head on the lap for a laugh. Indians don’t really have the same fear and reverence of death as we do in the West as they believe in reincarnation and karma etc so maybe there was nothing sinister about it all.. I know a lot of maybe’s but maybe it is a better way of looking back on it without thinking something horrible must have happened..

    1. Bhavika

      Actually, I am Indian, and every single one of my family members would be disgusted and repulsed by this event happening. Please don’t say, ‘Indians don’t really have the same fear…’. Try something like, ‘Some Indians don’t have the same fear…’ or ‘Some people don’t have the same fear…’ I am disgusted by how stereotypical and racist some of the people on this page are being.

  14. Brie' (Like the cheese)

    Dang! That is real life, and to some, a living nightmare! I don’t think anyone can be prepared for such a thing. I don’t know what I would do, but it would probably involve me getting a weak stomach, and a high possibility of vomiting from shock.

    If you had the chance to “un-see” it, would you?

    Only because from where I stand, not having seen anything like that, I would not want to actually see it, BUT, maybe not. Just maybe…, it will make you understand yourself more from that moment, a moment that you happened to feel so ALIVE in.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Brie – No, I would not ‘un-see’ it if I had the chance. I was there, I saw it and now it has forced me to do some serious thinking. And since I can’t ‘un-see’ it, or anything I see for that matter, I just prefer to accept what I see and deal with it.

  15. Nitin

    Hey Earl ! that must be awful sight for your memory for years to come. In Mumbai, daily few people die while crossing the railway tracks and its really bad scene here. I saw that once and got disturbed for days.
    While being an Indian I accept that there are many unpleasant things happened with the tourists especially girls which makes us feel really bad but also there are good things that keep attracting people from around the globe. And Yes, India is not doomed and things are improving fast. Enjoy your stay at Goa. I am also going to Goa next weekend.
    A warm welcome to everyone to come and explore India!!!

  16. Jolie Baskett

    Hey Wandering Earl,

    I’m with you on every point you make, always. Love your articles. Thanks so much for putting your heart out there even when you have to open yourself up to criticism. I could pick all of these negative reader comments apart piece by piece but why bother? You’re awesome and I really appreciate everything you have to say. Keep up the good work!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thank you for that Jolie and I appreciate you reading the site. Always good to hear when someone is enjoying what they read 🙂

  17. Wandering Earl

    I agree we shouldn’t blame the victims. I also think that India has received a lot of negative press lately and while rape in India is certainly real, the rates, even when adjusted for those that most likely don’t go reported, tend to be less than places like the US (according to statistics, about 16% of all females in the US have been the victim of attempted rape or rape). It’s still very real of course. And after leading two tours to this country in the past year, with groups mostly made up of females, I don’t think there would be a single female from either of those trips who would claim that they felt endangered at any time and the females all spent plenty of free time off on their own, both during the day and evenings, in cities/towns around the country.

    So I think the point is that yes, violence towards women does indeed exist in India (as it unfortunately does exist everywhere) but to claim that it’s a guarantee a foreign female traveler will automatically run into sexual assault or other similar incidents when visiting this country is not so accurate.

    The sheer number of female travelers in the country is also evidence that you can travel here without encountering such problems. If the violence towards foreign female travelers was indeed so high that it affected everyone, there surely would not be many females traveling in this country I would guess.

    Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts on this, it’s a good discussion to have for sure.

    1. Peter Christmas

      Exactly right Earl and it is not about blaming the victim but avoiding there being a victim at all. I bet on all your tours you have not had any of the women or the men for that matter, raped because you take a lot of care to avoid putting your group in to vulnerable positions by doing silly things like getting very drunk. As you say it is about changing the odds in your favour as much as you possible can.

  18. Lynnette Hoffman

    Hey, Look, I enjoyed India when I was there too, but violence against women, include gang rape is a real and not at all uncommon problem there. Blaming the victims does nothing to solve the issue, and apart from that, it is completely inaccurate. This video makes the point with black humour: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201309202224-0023060
    This is happening to women in public places, who are accompanied by men, etc. You might want to brush up, not only on the statistics surrounding this issue, but the actual circumstances of many of the crimes.

  19. Peter Christmas

    Earl, How you think you would react and how you actually act maybe completely different but your actions were dignified, even desensitised by the strangeness you can expect from travelling in the third world and the life is cheap attitude that can prevail in such places. There was nothing you could do for the victim, any assistance you could offer was not required, you paid your respect in silence, even if unintentionally because you were in a trance it is the way in the Western World. Curiosity as to what happened was not required, whether it was a tragic accident or some brutal murder all you can do is process the incident and hope to move on with your life to the best of your ability. It is normal as all the rubber neckers who slow at a road accident to gawp are testament to, as if seeing some bodies laying on the road covered in blood is actually going to make their day any better. I was pleased you had no urge to whip out your camera or go around trying to find out more details but glad you were able to share the story with the group. It was a shocking event even for India where seeing dead bodies is not uncommon but for my mind your behaviour was commendable and getting away seemed the best thing for your own safety without running around trying to get all the gory details.

  20. Peter Christmas

    Chris in many ways your story is one of the most disturbing tales I have ever had the misfortune to read not that I would rather bury my head in the sand. I wish you all the luck in telling all and sundry and any efforts you make to bring this to light and ultimately having it banned would be a great achievement. There is no excuse for animal cruelty and I see no reason the poor dogs could not be humanely killed before they are skinned and it is a sad reflection on the Country if they can’t see this themselves. I wish people would buy Western goods as we know they are made by people getting a living wage and fair conditions at least and I will try to do this as much as I can in future.

  21. Anonymous but left my email

    Thanks Earl,
    It is true I have not posted in some time here, and this is a different name I used for handle in lieu of different posts made at this site, but I surely hope you felt my post was not meant as any type of threat, as I am also certain by the handful of correspondences I have shared with you, you have much more integrity than that. I hoped you were you kidding as for threat opinion you took my post as, in your reply, but as I read again my post I can kind of see your perception of how it came across. So, that being said, you have saved me so much money with the advice I have asked for already. So now worries. I am still even using the bank for more often than not no fee withdrawals you recommmended to me a couple years ago….. Anways, I did feel compelled to post for you the NEED for my expression of what happened in India to me, and other friends, to be visible, as going deaf at cause from the gall of others is extremely rare in most other parts of the world. Let’s just say it is indeed quite a life changing experience. Very vexing. Thanks for the venting place also. Be good, be safe, and be happy Earl. Ciao!

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  23. TravelGenes

    Hi Earl, this is first time that i’m initiating a contact with you although i m following your blog for almost an year & i really really like the way you tell your experiences and insights. I’m also a travel blogger based on city of taj : Agra & i can connect with your feelings about the posts you write.

    But sorry to say, i’m bit dissapointed about your latest post about the headless man in Gwalior. I’m sure u have written it in a different way to share your experience but have you thought about the negative impact of it ? Since you are already a travel blogger & running tours in India; do u feel what kind of image of India this post is going to show ? I’m not justifying the incident that happened but writing about such things only gives a more negative publicity. My point is as an Indian such a incident might not be a big deal for me as I’ve seen and heard similar things many more… but it can have a profound impact on some one who is not Indian. So what may be common for one country may be highly uncommon for another. And it hurts to see it coming from a man who himself talks about travel and earns through running tours in India.

    All i mean to say is no country or culture is 100 % good, so why concentrate on bad side when you can show the good side ??? Well no body is perfect here… if people can talk about “filthy India”, i can talk about the highest rate of teen pregnancy and divorce and school shootings in US. So i hope you are getting my point. Talking bad in the name of sharing experience is so easy these days and any body can do about any country but seeing the brighter side takes the courage.

    1. Wandering Earl

      @TravelGenes – Clearly you haven’t read my other posts on India as I have been writing overwhelmingly positive things about the country for the past 3 years 🙂

      1. Bhavika

        Oh yeah, so that means that you just HAVE to write something that equals India’s reputation out-no makes it worse . Have you seen how many people have trash-talked about India on this page?

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey again Bhavika – I don’t have to do anything. This is a travel blog my friend. I write about what I experience on my travels. Sorry, but I’m not going to avoid writing about something just because it makes some feel as if I portrayed something negatively. This is what happened. If it happened in Romania, Istanbul or Indonesia, I would have written about it too. I’m not India’s PR person. I’m a traveler. And again, have you seen how many people have talked positively about India on all of the dozens of other posts I’ve written about the country?

  24. Isabel

    This story is quite shocking, but for some reason I also find shocking that this event is portrait as an experience per it self. What I mean is, we shouldn’t need to see traumatic death to consider it interesting for our personal development. There is no real involvement with the sufferring inherent to that men’s death (whether it was an accident, a murder or a suicide), just a focus of how that vision affected own’s self. What happens in India (as in many other parts of the world) is human or animal suffering indifference due to violence over exposure. Maybe the men that laughed had nightmares when he was 3 years old and was confronted with a similar or worse scene. After a while there’s no more thinking about how that scene affected own’s life, it just becomes “normal”. Those images don’t leave our mind because fortunatly we are not used to that. It is sad when not death itself (because that is something that nurses for example deal with everyday), but life is disrespected and undermined in such a way.
    I’m sorry if I’m being unfair or not analysing this situation properly. India sadly is a place that at this moment is making me loose interest for what it has to offer.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Isabel – I think that it is more than simple overexposure. If you look at the culture and religion in this part of the world, death is treated much differently than in other countries. Death is just another stage and it often does not come with the feelings of shock that many of us would feel as a result. And everything is an experience in the end…the fact that I walked down the platform and saw this is indeed an experience. We are all having experiences every second of every day and I don’t see anything wrong with observing many of them, thinking about them and writing about them here. If we don’t stop and notice the experiences, even the small ones, that make up our time on this planet, we will lose a great opportunity to challenge ourselves and to improve our lives.

  25. Anonymous but left my email

    Also, if you refuse to leave this and my last post up, I hope you undertand I will have to remove my membership at your site. This is what I owe to make square I have done my part in making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Evan – Clearly you don’t know how it all works. If it is your first comment, it goes into moderation and whenever I have a chance, I go through those comments and approve or not approve them. And while I disagree with what you wrote in your comment, I approved it, as I do with any, as long as they refrain from using profanity. There is no refusal or anything like that so your threat is quite idle 🙂

  26. Anonymous but left my email

    Earl, not many have seen as much as you have, but I am willing to bet I have seen almost as much. Honestly, you and your site are one of the reasons I am still travelling presently, but as far as India goes…I have given India even a second chance, and this being equal to a time span of six months total, be exact, and know that almost everywhere India can go, I was, and can only report I have found the people to be the most undesirable lot, by far, in the world. Thieving, demanding, filthy and spiteful people. Spiteful being the best word for the lot of them. Even on my way out from Mumbai to Denver I put my foot down at getting ripped off by everyone for the “honor of having visited” that rotting sesspool of thieves. This is only my departure example of the last visit there, but with this idea of flow, since I wasn’t willing to be in the game of tossing everybody money goodbye like the Spanish girls I met in line at Goa airport, these poor young students who almsot missed their flight because of a “new concern” for their luggage at the last minute, even my three hour and 10 minute early arrival from Goa arrival at the airport for connect flight to Denver wasn’t good enough, all because I was not willing to play the game any longer, and so and they made sure I missed my flight. I am also deaf now because of the turning off the electricity in the motel I pad for! Long story, but very real. Anways, as we all know that Mumbai to Denver is not a cheap flight, but be sure and realize that I had to then buy another ticket as well, and continue being followed all around the airport asking how I could have possibly missed my trip, as they laughed, as I couldn’t hear them. VERY REAL! From the sexual assaults of women I have heard about first hand from EVERY female visitor I have spoken with who visited there (at least a crotch grab), to every miserable and bewilderingly animalistic treatment I faced and experience I had there, I have the opinion if you even go there ONCE, you are asking to be ripped off. Anyone willing to explain what they feel might have happened can keep it to themselves, I ask you please for this. See herein: In five years that whole country will suffer the consequences of their actions towards tourists, and especially women. The only example of understanding I can convey to implore others not to gamble so huge on going there is an knowledge that everybody buys their first PC, but word of mouth and personal experience is what makes the second sale. Mark my words you read here my friend. India is doomed, very soon, and I hope your readers take heed in this urgent matter of advice to stay away. That is all.

    1. Peter Christmas

      Sorry you had a bad time in India anonymous (Evan) but it is not the same for everyone, I really enjoyed my time in India (some years ago now admittedly) but I learnt a lot about myself, poverty and the World about us there. In many ways when you are having a bad time you expect more of the same and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy in that respect. I also met a lot of women who complained about being molested who would be wearing the shortest skirts you could imagine. I would try to explain that if you dress with respect you will get more respect as in many Countries the men take this as an open invitation, they are wrong to do so but it is still better to cover up and not be molested then the alternative.

      1. Wandering Earl

        Hey Peter – While I don’t think blame should be placed directly on victims, I do think that cultural awareness, or a lack of, can play a role. India’s culture is quite different than the cultures most of us come from and we don’t take that into account, and make some adjustments while there in order to respect the local customs/traditions/way of life, it certainly can lead to a higher chance of facing such issues.

  27. Gabriela Oliveira

    This is the first time I visit your blog and this is the first thing I read from it. It disturbed me quite a bit and I still can’t really process what happened to you. Imagine seeing the real thing? 🙁 But interesting, nevertheless.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Gabriela – Welcome to the blog and hopefully you’ll have a look around at other posts so that you don’t have to dwell on this image!

  28. bernie

    Yeah thats a hell of a thing to see! I saw a young girl killed by a car years ago! And yeah i still think about it from time to time.. where would you say the best part of India is to visit??

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Bernie – It really depends on your interests as this is one massive and diverse country, with amazing things to see in every corner.

  29. Jaryd

    Geeez thats full on! Congrats it seems as though you handled it quite well despite the flash backs, but how could you possibly halt them from entering your mind right. I too was in India when I witnessed the first dead body I ever saw and it threw me so hard, just being surrounded by the enormous amount of people, flies, cows and vendors let alone I had just come off a 32 hour transit. It was a full on experience and I found as you already know, thats just how India is. One absolutely unique place that makes you question everything about your life.

  30. Nicole | The Wondernuts

    I’m not going to lie to you, but, it will NEVER fade away. I can guarantee it. I once saw depo photo evidence at at law firm. It was two guys who drag raced and crashed into a guy. That guy was broken in half. It’s still seared in my memory. ::shudders::

    It’s just one of those things you live with. Those are the unfortunate memories you take with you. =(

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nicole – It happens and I’m sure I’ll remember it forever. Hopefully the image won’t remain as strong as it is now though!

  31. Karyn @ Journey Out Of Plastic

    Oh wow. Oh my God. I just can’t even fathom this.

    I can’t even quite understand it. Who did this to him? The other man you saw?

    People can say “This is India” but at the end of the day we as humans should never be used to violence. Particularly murder. And the fact you were so shaken up is actually a good thing because it means you are not numb.

    Please monitor yourself over the next few weeks, as you do run the risk of experiencing some kind of post traumatic stress disorder. I would also suggest speaking to a counsellor if you find you need to. I have never been to Goa so I don’t know whether finding a counsellor there is a laughable suggestion or not 🙂 but your time there might be a good opportunity to process this. Perhaps you can speak to somebody online or over the phone?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Karyn – That’s the thing, it wasn’t necessarily murder. It could have been suicide by lying down on the train tracks, something that several people have mentioned is somewhat ‘common’. So I’m not sure of what happened at all in the end. And I appreciate the concern as well 🙂

  32. Greg

    Earl, having thought about your experience, my conclusion is the man you saw probably committed suicide by literally putting his neck on the line (railway line in this case) and post traumatic stress will definitely happen to some degree after seeing this – take care my friend.

  33. Ruby Kroon

    Earl, I so enjoy your blog! I can so imagine the scene, having been to India. The place just forces one to confront all those parts of life, that the western world has spirited away from view. Death, filth, poverty, despair, etc. I, too, savor the opportunities to open my mind that travel to India provides. Can’t wait to go back. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

  34. Kirsten Wood

    That sounds so horrific. I have no idea how I would react to something like that. Though I have never seen something that extreme, I have seen plenty of saddening things in my travels. My mom always asks how these things don’t ruin my trip, seeing the poverty or abuse. But I feel that these things happen whether I am there or not. If I am experiencing a culture it is important to be aware and experience the darker sides of things as well.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kirsten – And seeing such things helps us think about our own lives and hopefully, to become better, more knowledgeable people in the long run.

  35. Alana

    I was part of a church group that visited nursing homes to sing for them. It seemed they always enjoyed it. (Some slept through it, haha!) But they were always there waiting for us.

    During one particular occasion, we were told by the nurses that one of our elderly friends, Ms. Randall, was close to death. They let us into her room to see her one last time, though. She’d already started the “death rattle” and was in sleep/unconsciousness. It was only a matter of time. There was no family present. A lady named Perry was sitting on her bed, holding Ms. Randall’s hand and stroking her head and praying/crying over her. I found out they were of no relation but of the same faith and had only known each other a few months but had grown close. It was such a picture of love.

    It really struck me how finite life is, how one week we will be about our life and the next week we may be dying. That sounds terribly morbid but it’s reality.

    God was in that room, we all felt that, and it seemed that He sent Perry to be with this precious lady in the last moments of her life. Perry stayed with Ms. Randall until she passed away in the early hours of the morning. God led Ms. Randall through this life and He led her to the next. It’s a beautiful thing.

  36. Jimmy @ Footsteps of Jim

    Interesting experience Earl. In a weird way I’m kind of jealous, the first thing I thought was, i would have loved to have seen a photo of it (did you manage a sneeky phone photo of it?), then I would have embraced seeing something like that, shocking as it most definitely is. I bet you were in some trance like state staring at it for those minutes. Maybe its an experience that everyone could take something from? Did you find out what actually happened to him?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jimmy – No photo. There was no way I was going to take a photo of it and watching the one man pull out his phone to take a shot was quite disturbing. And a trance like state is a great way to describe what I was going through…I was there but not there at the same time.

  37. Kendal

    Why were they doing that to the dogs? That’s horrible….
    I don’t understand what is wrong with people that they can torture animals, or be OK with the torture of animals (or humans).

    But yes, the reaction of the people at the station! That baffles me… didn’t anyone see it happen? If someone was being murdered, I’d expect screaming and running…. but they seem to have treated it as casually as seeing some kind of performance art in the street.

  38. Lorraine Thomson

    So, had someone just come along and cut his head off while he was sleeping?? Didn’t anyone grab the man who did that? I tell you, I wouldn’t have dared go to sleep in public after that!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Lorraine – I’m not sure and I can’t say whether or not it was a crime or a suicide or an accident. All I know is what I saw with no other information unfortunately.

  39. Cynthia

    I saw someone dying in the streets in San Francisco in 2006. Probably an homeless person, two police officers were on the scene but were not doing much to help him, I could only guess that they were awaiting the paramedics.

    I still remember that man lying on the the ground with blood coming out of his mouth and ears, I guess it’s less traumatizing than a beheaded man but the image will unfortunately always stay with me.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Cynthia – That seems quite intense to me. Any time we face death right on it tends to be an experience we don’t immediately forget.

  40. Pamela

    OMG. This is an experience I doubt anyone would want to encounter.
    It is weird how can a guy get killed like this in such a large crowded area and yet a loss of life seems like it’s nothing. I hope the image get bury deeper and deeper in your memory as days go by.

  41. Victoria

    It’s disturbing. Very disturbing.
    But to be honest Earl, I’m not surprised. Shocked and sickened to my very core, but not surprised.

    India is a place of intense fascination riddled with amazing encounters and horrific experiences all at the same time. I was in a small boat on the River Ganges in 2005 when I noticed what I thought was a large fish speeding through the water.

    It was a dog dragging a swollen body. None of the locals around me even blinked and I had to leap out of the boat ‘cos I refused to wade through it.

    I can’t even begin to imagine a fresh head!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Victoria – It certainly isn’t the only time I’ve encountered death right in front of me India and Varanasi is one place that also makes any visitor think about the subject more than they probably do on a normal basis.

  42. Forest Parks

    Oh man that’s hard for anyone to see. I don’t honestly know how I would have reacted to such an odd incidence.

    The only time I have seen horrific injuries, death and violence has been in horrific times and oddly, I think, the brain deals with it better and accepts it in those scenarios.

    It will fade away Earl, of course it can’t be forgotten but you will find the right place for it in the back of the brain somewhere.

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