Ahhh… Mail from home!
Given my interest in when you succumb to the water isn’t it cheating on your part to use puritabs etc etc? Go on – play fair. Try every source of water you can find!
Best wishes, Grant
Yes, fellow toastmasters, it was my first trip to India
colours, chaos, saris, smells
but one thing filled me with trepidation:
those nasty tummy bugs
my friend Grant planned to run a sweepstake on how often I got sick
So, last October, I touched down in Bangalore
I got to my room, and the first thing I did?
I dropped a purification tablet into that carafe of water
maybe it was filtered, maybe Grant thought that “ terribly unsporting”,
but I wasn’t taking any chances!
I was there for a one-month course
now and then, someone wasn’t in class.
I’d hear through the grapevine: Ben is in bed, Sarah in the bathroom.
Would it happen to me?
Normally, I’m no hypochondriac, but I tell you in India, I watched my stomach
a slight rumble, a faint mumble, and I feared the worst.
One day I got up, bent over, o no, this was it
I could only wait for that rush to the bathroom.
But then, I thought – the penny, should I say, the rupee, dropped.
6:30 a.m. yoga
some strenuous contortions
the day before, a vicious set of situps
the pain was those abdominal abominable yoga exercises
a big highlight of travel in India is the hospitality even of strangers
one evening after dinner, I went for a walk
found a small temple
“Hello Sir, my name is Ravi, your name?”
“Hello Sir, your country?
five schoolboys, keen to shake hands and practice their English
a lovely moment…
The priest came out from the sanctum.
He’d just offered the food for the night, and invited, nay insisted, I sit and partake.
A banana leaf plate, and a big dollop of rice and chickpeas
Now, back in New Zealand, doctor friends gave me alcohol hand cleanser for just such cases
but where was it now, when I needed it?.
You guessed it, back at the hotel!
I shook all those hands,
and the temple hygiene?
How many million microbes swarmed on this palm – just waiting for a new host?
I ate the minimum, courtesy allowed
and sneaked off, praying hard.
I told Grant, and he wrote back:
Speaking on behalf of my bet re: stomach complaints, please do not hesitate to eat anything given in temples. The dodgier the better. And forget all that alcohol hand cleanser stuff. A “Real Man” wouldn’t worry about such things. Chow down. Time is ticking and you seem far too well.
With friends like Grant, who needs enemies?
But time kept ticking, and I stayed well.
I travelled around, and came to Madras.
My last day there, I was in the supermarket
That night, I planned to hit the town for some good madras curry.
My mouth watered at the thought.
But then I felt a need to hurry back home.
I moved to the checkout.
The queue was slow,
I needed to go fast
the girl fiddled with my change
I no longer cared about it
“Please, do you have a bathroom? A toilet?”
I’ll spare you the details fellow toastmasters,
suffice to say, I was intensely grateful to be shown the staff facilities.
I would not have made it back to my room.
Well, no tasty curry that night.
Just dry crackers and Maggi soup in my room.
I plugged in my jug to boil the water.
Flash! Bang! Black!
and I’d used it before
The stomach, the fuse.
This was not one of my “I love India” moments.
Well, I ate my dry crackers, with no soup.
I wandered outside, hoping an electrician might magically appear.
But, magically, I heard singing
‘twas the Madras Musical Association – 150 years old!
Their choir practising for Christmas
Just in time for their break, and a cup of sweet hot tea.
Made up for the soup
And the rehearsal:
the conductor was a comical chap
he mimicked his singers mistakes
I heard each part sung alone: Soprano, alto, tenor, bass
before the final glorious polyphony
This was an “I love India” moment
stand-up comedy, music appreciation, and choral performance, just for me!
If it wasn’t for the stomach, without that fuse, I’d have missed it.
As I left, I thought,
life’s funny like that.
when fuses blow and you’re left in the dark,
when you just feel sick in the gut,
At just those times, a flash of joy might appear
I remembered the wise words of a professor on the course,
“Each day brings its own gift, though sometimes not what we expect.”
Ahhh… Mail from home!