I missed writing the blog last week! This was not due to any laziness or any other lame reason, but rather due to the fact that I was laid up in bed with what some call “Delhi Belly.” In other words, I was sick in my Indian bed with a bacterial infection of the intestine.
Yes, I fell ill in my beloved India. On my fourth day there after sipping some questionable masala chai at a local Rishikesh hangout, I made a rush exit back to my hotel bathroom. I had been so proud of myself from times past that I had never gotten sick in India. I chalked it up to my strong intention of: “I’m not getting sick in India!” This time I must have been resting on my laurels because I forgot to set that same intention. Yikes! That was not good planning.
A trip that was meant to be a sacred and romantic trip with my husband-to-be turned more into what he and I now laughingly refer to as “the husband test.” He was surely put to the test as I writhed in pain, cried in fear, felt my temperature rise higher and higher and generally just lost it. He was calm, level-headed, wise, compassionate, loving and nurturing. He sought out the medical care I needed and watched over me every step of the way. He for sure passed the test – and in a way beyond what I could have ever imagined.
We began to look at the figures of belly illnesses in India and found out that 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhoeal sickness EVERY DAY. According to The Economist, four miles downstream from where the Ganges River enters the sacred city of Varanasi where 60,000 people bathe and wash their clothing, the concentration of faecal coliform bacteria is 3,000 times more than is considered safe for bathing! Additionally we learned that an estimated 700 million Indians (out of its 1.1 billion citizens) have no access to a proper toilet!! Suffice it to say that India, by Western standards, is very dirty.
So, as I lay there in my bed in an unheated room with grand cramps and a whipping wind knocking something very loud and thumping around on our rooftop, I cried out, “remind me next time I say I want to come to India, not to come!”
It is ten days later and I have just returned to the US. I am slightly tired, but am recovering nicely from my illness and feel for the most part – healthy. Once I was able to sit up, stand and walk, our last couple of days in India were filled with great surprises, fun and adventure – enough to leave India with a good feeling.
I wonder now…will this bout of bacterial illness really stop me from traveling to India, and for that matter, to other developing countries? I have certainly gotten sick in other developing countries before and later found my way back. I also wonder…does it really make a difference if I set a clear intention of not getting sick?…and do these bouts of getting sick have a deeper purpose – in this case – “the husband test?”
What about you? Have you had some traveler-getting-sick experiences and how have they affected you?
Tabby Biddle is a writer and editor specializing in helping women entrepreneurs and emerging authors get their message out. Additionally she is the founder of Lotus Blossom Style, a yoga lifestyle company created to support women in their personal transformation. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.