On the brightest of days I have imagined the sun falling on my face as I look over the cataracts of the Nile at Aswan, the small feluccas cutting in and out of the sparkling water, and Venice and the red roofs of Florence or the venerable islands of Greece rising from the seas of antiquity.
But there are some tourist destinations I draw the line at. Namely the Karni Mata temple at Deshnok, in Rajasthan, India.
This Hindu temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 1900s as a tribute to the rat goddess, Karni Mata.
"Intricate marble panels line the entrance and the floors, and silver and gold decorations are found throughout," states National Geographic.
I'm fine with the panels, less fine with the presence of 20,000 rats who hang out here and are considered sacred.
"The legend goes that Karni Mata, a mystic matriarch from the 14th century, was an incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. At some point during her life, the child of one of her clansmen died. She attempted to bring the child back to life, only to be told by Yama, the god of death, that he had already been reincarnated," National Geographic stated.
It seems Karni Mata cut a deal with Yama: From then on all of her tribespeople would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan.
It sounds like a bad deal to me. But the folks at the temple seem to be cool with it, providing the rats with tasty food and even sharing their bowls at time and feeling honored to be bitten by the aforementioned rodents.
The place could probably use a couple of cats.
Now I don't have a phobia about rats. I'd have a nice clean white or black one as a pet. But the scenes from the temple threaten to turn me into Mr OCD on acid. Seldom have I yearned so much for a tin of bleach and some latex gloves. Give me sterile American subdivisions, baby.
Still all this pre lunch talk about rats has me thinking about phobias. A lot of people are rat phobics and I know some people who would not be able to watch this video.
What's your phobia?