Ratatouille and Fields of Doody

Trip Start Feb 02, 2011
Trip End Feb 24, 2011

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Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! We are currently en route to Bikaner where we will visit the much anticipated Rat Temple! The roads from Jaipur to here have been the worst so far, with every inch being full of potholes, tons of fucking cows, and groups of women just treading down the middle of the road expecting all the cars to swerve around them. We've learned that these women are called "Jains" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism) and they wear strips of cloth around their mouths to ensure they don’t swallow and bugs, as this is considered meat and it would offend their god. Silly creationists!

(By the way, yesterday morning began what would be a downward spiral of sickness and it may get worse before it gets better. I vomited harder than I ever remember vomiting, and it has been nothing but butt troubles ever since. However, I was extremely thankful to have that room with the soothing breeze of the ceiling fan to cool my fever, and although I'm nowhere near healthy as least I'm well enough to be in the car once again.)

About an hour ago we ate at another horrid restaurant on the side of the road and their entire water system was out (the place is called Desert Resort). Of course, I figured this out after I was "finished with my business" when the toilet wouldn’t flush and the bathroom attendant had to pour a bucket of rank water over my hands (which of course cost me 5 rupees) and thus making them even dirtier.

Twenty minutes later I headed back to the scene of the crime and all four toilets had been violated beyond belief. Since mine was the only one with toilet paper I headed back to essentially shit into my own previous shit, and then headed back out to eat the food, with every bite leading me closer to ruin.

Before we left the Jaipur we stopped to purchase Electrol packets (think powdered Gatorade) from the row of little pharmacy stands which were accessible from the sidewalk. Mr. Singh was still searching for his ear medicine while we sat and waited in the car, and without fail we were serenaded be the desperate *tap**tap*tapping of a small boy who had already learned the potential benefits of sad eyes when coupled with the heartstrings of a car full of white people.

We began our usual deaf-and-aloof routine until Kasia realized we still had a large three-liter bottle of Coca-Cola which (much like the boy) had gone flat from neglect. The moment Jen placed it in the boy’s hands it was as if his entire life had changed. His eyes lit up like the sun laced with diamonds; his radiant smile breathing so much joy as if god himself had shit gold nuggets into his small, fruitless hands. His face screamed “Thank you!” a million times and change (his tongue knew only “Hello” and “Please”- the rest he would leave to expression) and in an instant he was gone, weaving through traffic like a butterfly in the rain with his golden ticket held up high enough for the entire world to see.

The last image we have of him is watching him with two other girls jumping up and down celebrating and waving to us amongst the piles of garbage they’d been gleaning. I’m not sure why we as people need to see firsthand the results of our good deeds in order to feel it was worthwhile but we do, and it was the first and only time this trip where I felt appreciated.


This evening we rolled into Bikaner and headed straight for the rat temple in the city of Deshnok. Officially named the Shri Kanimata Temple, it is believed that the rat is an incarnation of this goddess and therefore the rats are welcomed and fed in honor of her.

The temple itself was much smaller than I had expected and although there were large bowls of milk strewn about it still seemed as if all the rats were moments from death. (Much like the countless amounts of sick, malnourished cows that road along every street and field, it seems these animals are nothing more than an obligation and are given the bare minimum on all levels. How they think a god could possibly be pleased by this I will never understand.)

Legend has it that if a rat runs over your foot it’s good luck (from back when the black plague was all the rage) and by the time we left I had a total of four scurry over me. Plus, we were able to spot a white rat as well, which is so lucky it's like a horseshoe having sex with a rabbit’s foot.

Now we're back in our hotel room (Hotel Raj) watching bad American movies and getting ready to sleep in our own beds.

I don’t think I’ll ever readjust to the horrid lack of respect for this country. Nothing works, nothing is timely, everyone wants your money (try finding a single bathroom anywhere in the country without an attendant demanding 5-10 rupees for giving you a napkin. Now we just wipe our hands on our pants, smile, and walk away), half the items on the menus are never available, and (possibly the most annoying part) everyone answers “yes” “no” “I don’t know” and “”maybe” with the same bobble-headed movement. We are always in a constant mode of frustration and it wears you out beyond belief.

And now Kasia and I are coming down with various symptoms- she’s getting chills and numbness and is concerned because she was bitten by something while we slept in Jaipur the other night and it formed a white head of puss by morning. I’ve had vomiting and diarrhea for two days now and the highlight of my day was running out into a farmer’s field and shitting the devil out of my ass. Now I’m drinking liters of water filled with the aforementioned Electro powder and I’ll be amazed if I don’t wet the damn bed. Luckily we all have our own tonight!

I’m off to bed with fingers crossed that the morning’s movement will be solid. Otherwise we’ll be calling a doctor so he can prescribe a medicine that I’m sure will freak me out. And Kasia, well let’s just say that it hurts more watching her suffer than anything I can ever go through myself.

*Fingers crossed*
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