Eleven Times

It was time to leave Jamnagar. The wedding was in a day or so and we needed to make it to the other side of the state before we ran out of time. There was still some more shopping to do (it seemed a never ending list of cloth and jewellery) and we needed to stop in Rajkot again to finish things off. The funny thing was that I had an assessed essay due at the same time.

The next two hours was spent frantically writing the last few sections of an essay on whether wealthy citizens were responsible for the plight of global poverty. Apt considering the previous post that I wrote and how it has made such a big impact on my time here. However, trying to write on a laptop on a campervan in the middle of India when you are bouncing around with every hole in the road is not ideal. It leads to a considerable amount of nausea. The aftermath of which was left in a plastic bag on the side of the road before reaching Rajkot.

Feeling thoroughly awful, the rest of the family dropped me to a nearby hotel where I could access the wifi and send the essay off whilst they finished their shopping. There was nothing that I wanted to drink that would get me the password to stay in the hotel restaurant, so my brother settled for some ice cream to satisfy the waiter who was looking to close when we walked in. The next two and a half hours, we nursed two small drinks and a bowl of kulfi before they finally turned the lights on and kicked us out. I think it would have been a lot sooner if they didn’t feel sorry for the state of the two of us when we came in. India was starting to take its toll.

49 minutes before the deadline, the essay was submitted and I was relieved just to stop staring at a screen. The hours that I had spent procrastinating the week before seemed a lot more valuable now that we trudged back to the campervan for another journey…another four hour drive. Roads in India are not built for plump British Indian boys with sensitive stomachs – quite the opposite actually.

I must have thrown up eleven times. It got to the point where even the water I was drinking, because I couldn’t eat, was being deposited at every truck stop on the way as I couldn’t take more than an hour at a time. We visited an extremely religious place called Sarangpur that was really important to my aunt, but all I remember is the neon lights outside – I was woken up by my brother after falling asleep in my lap on the steps. I could barely walk and I wasn’t making much sense when I talked. I couldn’t breathe without feeling the left side of stomach shiver with a stabbing pain.

It was only two days later that I realised that is was gastroenteritis. When I say realised, I mean diagnosed after being in bed unconscious for twenty solid hours. In that time, I had lost over a litre worth of fluids from my body, had four biscuits to eat over three days and could barely stomach a soft drink without being bent double in the bathroom. I had never gotten this ill before, always being careful to avoid local water, before cursing myself for not checking at a relative’s house a few days before.

It must have been a small snack or a sip of water that had made my body refund everything that I had put into it, like a department store after Christmas. Everything must go. I couldn’t remember much and there were times when lifting my head felt like trying to move a medicine ball.

I had heard of Delhi Belly, but this felt like an atomic bomb. At least now it was over and I could eat solid food again. Just in time for the wedding.

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