Watch Out! Watch Those Prying Eyes

Watch Out! Watch Those Prying Eyes… from the Watchout Travel Series

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

Do you remember this song? “Every Breath You Take” was the Police's Grammy Award–winning song from the eighties. It gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it. How would you feel if a stranger was watching and following every move you make, just as Sting mentions?

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Watch over your coffee & other belongings

Doc and I were at Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre in Paris when we noticed someone following us, and the scene I am about to tell you was exactly like the lyrics of this song.

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Basilique du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre

See, we didn't have selfie sticks during this trip to France, nor did we want to lug around a bulky tripod. Though a relatively new model, our camera didn't have the built-in selfie feature some models do today. And by the way, these were the days when we'd ask a kind stranger to snap us a photo when we wanted a family shot. You know what? I am glad I still stop people for one! How about you?  

Although there were many visitors, the surrounding area looked very calm, as it usually is over there. We wanted to capture the serene moment, so we looked around for the right person to take a photo for us (i.e., someone who wouldn't run away with our camera). It was at this point that Doc noticed a pair of eyes on us. A tall bloke, he was. As we climbed the stairs leading to the grand basilica, he kept on following behind us. He didn't have a camera, nor did he look like a tourist. He kept his hands in his pocket most of the time. When we took five steps, the bloke would also take five. When we took three, he matched with the same number. We pretended to rest midway to appreciate the view. He also stopped, but instead of admiring the view, his eyes were on us. Though he knew that we were aware of him trailing us, he didn't give a damn and continued to follow us up the stairs leading to the basilica. 

Inside the basilica, we quickly took a seat at the prayer bench. As the bloke walked past us, we could see his head turning around as he searched for us. Since it was crowded and a dimly lit, he lost sight of us and probably found another victim to spy on. 

I was lucky Doc spotted the watchful eyes in time—otherwise, we may have gotten pickpocketed or mugged that day. Although you may say this won't happen to you today with CCTVs around, trust me; the games played today are far more sophisticated.  

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Tried to get a photo together, alas...

What I Learnt

  • The stranger following was not the Prince Charming of a Daniel Steel novel. Wake up! It probably would not have the joyous ending you hoped for.
  • Again, be wary of strange characters around you, especially those who try to get close to you. Observe. 
  • Walk in crowds to avoid being singled out.
  • Stay in brightly lit areas, especially if you are alone. 
  • Avoid keeping all of your important items in a single place. This way, for instance, if a bag gets nabbed, some of your other important items won’t be lost along with it. 
  • Make copies of important documents. Email a copy of these to yourself/travel group for safe-keeping.
  • CCTV cameras don’t always work. It’s always good to be a self-guard.

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I'll be watching you

reachingdelphi,  basillica, france
Inside the bag is a caricature of us by a Picasso-like artist at his eyes.

Note: The original analog photographs had been scanned for this post.


Regardless of whether you are a business traveller or vacationer, a one-time or frequent traveller – if you travel, you are exposed to risks. It’s important to understand that some of us are easier targets than others.

Doc was a sensible traveller, while I, quite the opposite. Through Watch Out! Travel Mishaps from Reaching Delphi Travellers Alert series, I will share some of our travel misadventures with you. My aim is to create the awareness of such incidents and some useful suggestions to reduce the occurrence of unpleasant events. 

This series is dedicated to Doc - SV Narayanan, who constantly reminded me and many others to 'Watch Out!. 

 Follow Coffee Trail – Counting Stars, Reaching Delphi for travel updates and tips.


Also in the WatchOut! series: