Ankita v. Chipkali / by Ankita Dhussa

Growing up visiting India, I've developed several opinions on things I like and dislike about South Asia. Many of these thoughts on topics ranging from religious, cultural, political and otherwise, have evolved over time. However, one perspective that may never change is my dislike of the common house gecko, called chipkali in Hindi, or korkirli in Punjabi. 

Though no more than 3-6 inches long and completely harmless, these creepy little guys, their quick crawls and tiny, curious eyes have always made me cringe. Especially when they are indoors.

I knew that I would encounter chipkalis during my year in a tropical climate. I also hoped that being in my mid-twenties would result in me being less of a scaredy-cat than my childhood India trips.

Things were going well. I braved an ATM one time that had about 5 chipkalis hanging out inside. I avoided eye contact, displayed no visible cringes, quickly withdrew my cash, and went about my day. 

My roommate found one in her bathroom a few weeks later. I expressed my condolences and wished her the best of luck. About a week later she mentioned she was going to call our landlady to ask if her helper could come get rid of it. I admired her bravery for hosting the chipkali so long.

And then it was my turn. 

A couple nights ago, being the night owl I am, I was working late in my room. I was just about to get ready to head to bed when I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye. 

It quickly scattered across the door that leads out to my balcony. I let out a yelp, and ran to the furthest away corner on my bed and observed. 

Thus began the two-hour battle of getting the chipkali out of my room. Shoutouts to my friend Ariel, spending her Fulbright in Udaipur, for keeping me company via my live and panicked WhatsApps, as well as my mother in Iowa for only minimally laughing at me when I called her in near tears. Twice.


The plan:

Unlock and open the door and wait for the chipkali to get out. Easy-peasy.


Spend about 30 minutes trying to pump myself up to unlock the door. In the meantime, the chipkali has moved right next to the door handle.

The Plan 2.0:

Turn on balcony light and turn off all of the bedroom lights to encourage chipkali to head outside (it eventually moves right next to the top lock on the door).

Reality 2.0:

Unlock bottom lock and open window. Grab mop and broom from living room and 'gently encourage' chipkali to move so that I can reach the top lock.


The Plan/Reality 3.0:

Chipkali moves away from the top lock to the AC, nowhere near the now open door and window.

Engage in waving and banging of mop near the chipkali to try to guide it through the window. Dramatically scream and drop mop each time the chipkali moves.

After a certain point of too much adrenaline, exhaustion and illogical determination, I realized that I've successfully terrified both the chipkali and myself. I accepted my new reality and temporary roommate for the night. 

I did some light reading while dousing myself in mosquito repellent (leaving the door and window open for about an hour brought a whole host of other unwanted friends) and learned that chipkalis are actually pretty cool--they prey on bugs and mosquitos. They are also repelled by garlic, so naturally I went to the kitchen and grabbed all the garlic I could find and brought it back to my room.

I took one last look at my chipkali, took off my glasses, and turned off the last remaining light.

I took one last look at my chipkali, took off my glasses, and turned off the last remaining light.