Caleb just got taken down by whatever the Indian equivalent of Montezuma’s revenge is, and I’m, needless to say, very worried about him.
Fortunately, although we’ve eaten the same thing all day, I haven’t fallen with him. It could be because I got dysentery in Mexico City once, which landed me in the bathtub of a flea ridden Best Western for 24 hours (I’ll let you use your imagination as to why), but granted me the gift of an iron stomach. Or it could be that Caleb, afraid to drink from the top of a can—a bacteria breeding ground in India—poured Diet Coke into what looked like an unwashed glass, in a side street cafe in Jodphur earlier this afternoon, and contracted some kind of amoeba.
Which kind of brings me to one of the difficult things about being a tourist in India. While the food is truly amazing, the places where you can go and things you can eat are very limited. Either you risk shitting yellow bile out of your ass for three days, and eat a cheap local meal, or you have to pay top dollar at tourist traps and fancy hotel restaurants. There’s really no in between.
A foodie paradise (most of) India is not.
For instance, yesterday we went to a restaurant called “Gypsy,” which was highly recommended by almost all tour guides of the city, as well as a number of Indian men who are our guides on the trip. It’s very affordable ($3 a meal), and serves Thali food, which is something like those Argentinian meat houses where they keep on bringing you food until your jeans pop, only with vegetarian curries and sweets.
On the way up to the restaurant, we were forced to make our way through a swarm of flies, located next to the kitchen at the bottom of the stairs. By swarm, I do not mean a cloud that you can bat away with your hand. I mean the kind of mass that sticks, like detritus, to your hair, your eyes, and your skin.
That alone was enough to make my stomach roil. But then, we got upstairs, where the dining room smelled like a curious—and horrifying—mixture of mothballs, masala (underratedly one of the worst scents in the universe), and body odor.
I sat down with a stony face. As a final straw, I heard a waiter hock a loogie on the floor behind me. “Are you ok?” Caleb asked me, anxiously. He was still of the mind that most of the warnings about getting sick from food or water in India were hyperbole.
I thought that my face was betraying none of what I was feeling, but then, later in the day, he showed me the picture above, which he took on the sly as they were serving me my meal.
I swear, I love India sometimes. Just not always. Not tonight. And neither does my patient, delirious with fever and unable to keep down even water.