India - It Seems to be Getting Better

Trip Start Apr 17, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Monday, January 26, 2009

 The waiting area at Jodhpur train station is about the size of a hockey rink. Three quarters of it is filled with people covered in blankets, sleeping side-by-side, not an inch between them. The ramp leading to platform number two is far too steep and treacherous for cows to navigate, so we're alone with yet another mass of people. It's 5:45 am and the train to Jaisalmer is delayed two hours. Without a touch of bashfulness men walk up to us and simply stare. It isn't disconcerting, it's been that way for almost two weeks now. I look out onto the track as a man defecates beside the rail. A rat, then perhaps ten or twenty more, scurry over the rail ties and through the man's legs as he performs his call. 

Three days earlier we'd finally arrived in what must be the India everyone raves about. The view from the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, the Krishna Prakash Heritage Haveli is spectacular. Before you is a sheer stone wall rising maybe fifty metres to a walled fort; at the far end of the fort a magificent palace, now a museum. And in English it's called just that. The Magnificent Fort.
(Havelis are large houses with maze-like levels. They're like mini-castles filled with hidden courtyards.) 

The following morning as we were about to make our way up to the fort I had a bit of a nasty bathroom incident. After double-dosing on Imodium we struck out on our journey. At noon I felt a little queazy and headed for the 'Gents Lavatory', a name handed down by the British. But this lavatory was never meant to be used by British gents. A point and shoot hole in the ground for a toilet was simply not going to do. Leaving Barbara and Ellen behind I rushed out of the place and rickshawed down to our Haveli.

At 1:00 pm I began to feel feverish. By 3:00 pm, fully clothed and covered in two woolen blankets I lay trembling. My legs were like jelly; my neck was stiff and I had a freaking ear ache. I could barely lift my arm to look at my wrist watch. An hour later in a state of near delirium, Ellen, back from the fort now, washed a Cipro (anti-biotic) tablet down my throat. At around 11:00 pm the fever broke and by 8:30 am the following morning, after a dose of re-hydration mix, it was as though I'd never been ill. With Cipro you take one tablet every twelve hours, but only a total of six doses. Cipro is to bacterial infection what Demerol is to pain.

On the late running train to Jodhpur, Ellen and I chatted about India while Barbara slept. Over the course of maybe five years, Ellen has asked a hundred, perhaps more, travellers why they love India. (almost everyone does love it.) She's mostly been given vague replies about spiritualism and the more common 'There's no other place like it.' as answers. The only spiritualism I've felt is the concept of Freedom for the Cows. And I'll miss that when we return to Toronto. For those who say 'there's no other place like it' they just need to expand their travels.

India has been marginally better over the last few days. The bud may be there, but I'm afraid it will still take some time for the Indian rose to bloom.
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