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Goodbye India

I awoke on the soft sheets of Mrs. Jalan’s guest room after my 16 hours of rest. The bed still called to me, as did the bathroom, but not with the urgency it had possessed the day before. I felt much better. My plumbing was still reeling from the disease which had racked it, but I was able to put some lentil pancakes into my stomach and eat some mango pieces which were served to my by the most gracious and capable house staff. As I ate, I looked down at my hands. Both of them were covered in purple and green splotches. This, it seemed, was the last straw. I logged onto the internet in the house’s most luxurious technology room, and quickly sent off some pictures of my hands, to be examined by AsiaWheeling’s doctors back in the states. Despite this bizarre symptom, I felt on the whole much better. I had also taken a pill to relieve the dysentery, so, despite the impeding journey to Thailand there was little to fear…

Leaving Kolkata.JPG

…until the Malarone crazy hour hit. This time it hit hard, my system was empty and the Malarone took rein. It was just after Mrs. Jalan’s most gracious driver dropped us at the Kolkata airport, that I began to be wracked with indecision and anxiety. We walked to the Jet airways check-in and a man next to a large contraption asked if we wanted to have our bags wrapped in cellophane to prevent tamper and damage. We declined. But the sneaking suspicion that we perhaps should have obliged him and protected our luggage crept upon me like a begging leper. We checked in, went through security, had our passports stamped, all the while I was, on a certain level, mortified that we might, just might, have made the worst decision of our lives. And our bags would, without the added protection of cellophane wrap, be spit from the universe like a watermelon seed.

Goodbye Kolkata

The turbulence was terrible and I rode with both hands covering the tops of my glass of apple juice (which I found myself unable to consume) and the large vessel in which the juice had come. Before me was a plate of Thai chicken and coconut tofu. The food had been tasty what little of it I was able to eat before the twisting pain of the e-coli and the raging of the turbulence rendered all inedible. I stared at the LCD video screen of the seat in front of me, through the crack in the seats and let the apple juice wash over the internally bleeding palms of my hands, which I held firmly over the two vessels. It was a bollywood movie, and no one in the movie had e-coli… or maybe they all did, it was just no sweat for them. I though about India.

The place is both hard and soft. We met so many people who simply lead hard lives: rickshaw drivers who just slept in the rickshaw, children who were forced to beg on the streets only to give what they made to an overlord, women who lived in fear of being molested by random men on the street. But also there is a softness and humanity to the place: a fellow who rather than give you directions will offer to ride his bike alongside, Babaloo Baba holding my had as I crossed the street, bicycle rental places that collect no deposit. People have a relaxed and trusting attitude which is no where to be found in America.

Our journey through India had brought us to the extremes of experience, and burned a lasting imprint on the interior of my skull. What effect this would have on who I was or how I would interpret the rest of the trip was unclear to me. By this point, the crazy hour had passed and I enjoyed the lucidity which came with that release. To those of you, dear readers, who were perhaps as some earlier points thinking to yourselves, “perhaps I should go to India and see this for myself” and are now thinking (as I festered with e-coli on a Jet Airways flight out of that land) “hmmm… maybe not…” I say, please reconsider.

India is an amazing place, unbelievably beautiful, starkly colorful, and saturated with raw humanity. I believe one cannot visit such a place without some type of osmotic reaction. What that reaction will be for you, dear reader, I cannot begin to guess. Indeed, what was it for me? I can do no better, but I know it was good for me. I know I will be a healthier (that’s once I kick the ass of this damed E-Coli), maybe even a better person for it.


Comments

  1. Diane Heditsian | June 24th, 2008 | 12:01 am

    Hang in their Woody. It’s been a rough ride lately and I’ve felt every bump thanks to your expressive posts. Keep em coming.
    Here’s to your health,
    Scott’s mom

  2. Scott | June 24th, 2008 | 10:32 pm

    Thanks Diane. We’re doing just great now. And we’re working on more.

  3. AsiaWheeling » Blog Archive » Choosing Freedom | December 21st, 2010 | 8:40 am

    [...] fellows to wrap both of our bikes in that protective film which had so terrified us when we were in Kolkata on the pilot [...]

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