Joy Swing

As I’d picked up my bike early into my Indian wanders, I’d yet to travel in India by train. A couple posts back, I described the anarchy that is an Indian railway crossing. In Patna, I learned crossings have NOTHING on another process involving railways: obtaining a ticket.

Many Indian trains are booked weeks in advance. But for many routes the railways set a couple tickets aside as specific last minute buys; there are tickets designated only for foreigners, tickets set to be sold only 2 days before the journey. . .Pete and I were hoping to take advantage of this opportunity.

Unfortunately, so, it seemed, was the rest of Patna. Continue reading

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Tough luck and hard decisions

It’s an unfortunate truth of the universe that getting frustrated by something, even deeply, passionately, violently so, will not make it simply go away. Particularly when the thing frustrating you is inside your GI tract.

I was hoping the last bout of trouble would be the last. I seemed to regain my strength in Varanasi and, as I walked along the colourful ghats of that holy city, I found myself refilling with a sense of optimism for my travels to come. It hadn’t taken long to catch up on the organization of the photosets I’d fallen behind on while ill, and my journal and computer were filled with notes with which to write my next several blog posts. Furthermore, I was excited to move off the tourist circuit to the lesser travelled state of Jharkhand, and it’s national park, Betla. I’d allowed myself to get more down than I should have for something as unavoidable as intestinal illness, and it had been painting a shadow over my ability to enjoy my time in India. But now, with the sun shining down on me and the open road ahead, everything seemed rich and vibrant and promising once more. ‘Don’t let the bacillary dysentery grind you down’ and such.

And some exciting opportunities were springing up. A Couchsurfer I’d met in Jaipur had invited me on a May trek to Gangotri I was incredibly keen to do, as well as an even more exciting trip – to Ladakh via the Manali-Leh road. It promised to be a beautiful, if challenging, ride, and I’d started sending out feelers to find a riding buddy as Pete was unlikely to still be in India come August. I’d also begun inquiring about farm-stays in Nepal, both to experience a bit of that culture and to stretch out my finances while I waited for the Ladakh pass to open.

In the meantime, I was sitting atop a jeep as it tumbled down the dirt road of Palamau, keeping my eyes out for the unlikely possibility of a tiger spotting. Continue reading

Shit. It happens.

All flowery language aside, the point you start shitting blood is usually the point when you should stop naively hoping your body will sort through the problem and go seek medical attention.

I hadn’t been well in some time. At the start of the trip I was flying, sampling every street food I could find and priding myself on the fact that I seemed to have beaten my belly into submission after the initial round of violent nausea on day 3. I pictured my stomach as having given up on me after the fifth meal of mystery chaat and having left me to my own devices. “Fuck it,” the mental image of my stomach said. “Eat what you want. I just don’t care anymore. Whatever.”

But 3 weeks later in Rishikesh I found myself in the hospital to get a prescription to combat a sudden bout of food poisoning. It delayed our bike tour departure date by a couple days but, after the round of meds, I was feeling good again.

Until I caught a cold.

That was around Vrindavan. Having been slammed by gulal for Holi meant that whenever I blew my nose the tissue came away tie-dyed into a colorful snot Rorschach. And that lasted well into Jaipur where everything went south in more literal ways than even I care to elaborate.

Until, finally, when leaving to view the infamous Taj Mahal in Agra, I dialled a good friend back in Canada who happens to be a pharmacist, looking for advice. The call ended up having to take place in two parts as, halfway through, I had to cut him off to search for a toilet IMMEDIATELY. Continue reading