Archive for the ‘Misadventures’ Category

Puja to the Porcelain Shrine

 

While I’ve been writing about my thoughts and adventures, in light of recent events, this post is going to take a look at some of my misadventures. Warning, this post gets a little graphic.

For shock value only. Relax, I DO have a somewhat normal toilet.

 

This last weekend I got sick. Really sick.

Everyone jests that its a right of passage for foreigners to get sick here, but after one month here with no serious incidents I had convinced myself that I had dodged that bullet. Never having been much of a neat-freak, I’m not overly careful when it comes to playing it safe with hygiene, but I’m not a thrill-seeker either. I don’t eat street food, but I will do rebellious things like brushing my teeth with tap water (badass, I know).

Friday my rebelliousness caught up to me.

I vomited around 9:30 pm, then convinced myself that it was going to be an isolated incident, and proceeded to go to the club ‘Liquids’ down the road. This may seem idiotic to some of my readers, but in many circles this is called a ‘puke and rally’ and is highly respectable. However this phrase is usually reserved for throwing up in the context of drinking, not in the context of physical illness. In this case, I had not been drinking (well okay, just one beer). Half an hour after arriving at Liquids I promptly started contributing my own liquids to their sink. Everyone there must think that foreigners can’t hold their liquor! I made the wise choice and ended my feeble attempt at a ‘rally’ then and there. I returned to my house shortly afterward.

Sickness and India seem to go hand in hand. If you share my guilty pleasure of watching the NBC show ‘Outsourced’, you might remember that they made an entire episode about his sickness. In my opinion India gets its reputation as a petri dish of sickness because of the confluence of two key factors, the general filth, and the spicy food. There’s no doubt about it, India is a dirty country. Before I came here, I couldn’t believe that people could need a maid full-time. “How does she need to mop the floors every single day?” I would say. Now I understand. Whether through an open window or some other means, a thick soot-like dust settles in over everything in my apartment in a matter of hours. If I walk around barefoot in my place, my feet will turn black. Sometimes when the fan is blowing (read: always), I jump at what I think is a mouse in my peripheral vision, only to turn and realize that it was a dirt-ball blowing around like a tumbleweed. As bad as it is in my own house, imagine what its like outside. The morning light pierces the pollution-dust fog that blankets the city and reveals all the particulate matter floating around this city. As appetizing as street food may look at the stands, I can’t help but think about all those little particles cascading onto the cookware and piling up by the minute.

If the dirt doesn’t get you, the spices will. India’s reputation for spicy food adds to the mix of sickness inducing factors. Beware the ‘pickles’. At many restaurants they bring out a few little saucers of pickled mango and pickled gongura (a leafy vegetable). I made the mistake one day of putting a big spoonful in my mouth, and I nearly threw up. After slowly swallowing half of the spicy-like-magma-ball in my mouth, I actually had to spit the rest out into my napkin. It was embarrassing, but not so much as vomiting would have been. I will probably write a whole post about the food at one point, if only to entice a few people to come try it for themselves, but for now I will just suggest that before you come, you build up your spice tolerance. I don’t think most foods are overly spicy here, the problem is that everything is spicy here. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, sometimes even dessert. Its one thing to eat a very spicy item on a given meal, but another thing entirely to eat moderately spicy foods for every meal over the course of a month.

For anyone coming to visit India. Consider yourselves warned. I made it one month without being afflicted, but my streak stops there. Hopefully there won’t be too many misadventures to add to this category of posts, but you never can tell.