There have been several instances where we have come across demonstrations during our travels. Fortunately none of them have been violent in any way, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be unnerving at times. Especially when in a country that we don’t speak the language, hear people chanting and yelling things that you don’t understand can make you quite anxious. For the most part, whenever we do see a demonstration, we pretty much head the other direction and avoid it as much as possible. There are times when that isn’t always possible to stay away from the protest or demonstration, so when that happens it is important not to do anything that might draw too much attention to yourself.
The first time that we came across a demonstration when traveling was during our trip to Chennai in India. Elections had just concluded and when we got off of the plane from our 24 hours worth of flying it was late in the evening. As we found our driver that was taking us from the airport to the hotel, he hustled us through the crowds and we could see fires lit in several locations. We were exhausted, disoriented, and not completely aware of exactly what was going on. It wasn’t violent at all, but in the dark of night it certainly wasn’t the most comfortable feeling.
Seeing the posture of the police is usually a good way to gauge the volatility of the demonstration or protest. Many demonstrations are actually positive and if the police are present, they are simply there to control the crowds. Other times, though, you will see the police in their riot gear and that is certainly a sign that you don’t want to stick around. We have come across different types of demonstrations and protests in Rome, Lima, Budapest, Frankfurt, and Quito in addition to the one that we saw in Chennai. We certainly don’t seek them out, but it is interesting to see the passion of the people in the places that we visit. Have you ever come across a demonstration during your travels?