Posts/October, 2008/

Sickness in Goa, Sickness in Bengaluru, India

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

On Thursday, J. and I boarded a day train for the 12 hour trip to coastal Goa. We shared a four bunk cabin with a man that slept the whole time and another who was part of a large group of pharmaceutical workers on a business retreat. The cabin behind us was their party headquarters. They sang and played games and chatted loudly for the whole ride.

The 2nd Class AC aisle: two bunk compartments in a narrow space on the left, 4 bunk rooms on the right.

4 bunks.

Man and buffalo outside the train in Goa.

Train sunset.

We arrived in Margao, Goa around 9PM and took a prepaid taxi the 6km to the small coastal town called Colva. We deliberated about the best beach to stay at, and Colva seemed a good combination of convenience and location. We pulled up to Lucky Star Hotel around 9:30 or ten and I said to the cabbie “yo holmes smell you later.” After checking in to a cheap, 300Rs a night room, we walked to the nearly empty restaurant and ordered dinner. Mistake. I ordered the Goan-style egg curry. Mistake. We ate and went to sleep.

Early in the morning I woke up with bad gas and couldn’t fall asleep again. Then I got up from bed and surprised myself by vomiting in the shower. I hadn’t been sick this way since childhood; much like Jerry I had a great streak ruined by one bad meal. J. did not get sick.

To make matters worse, I had also started getting congestion and a sore throat on the train. The stomach sickness seemed to aggravate it. Before noon, we moved down the road to a more upscale (though mildewed) hotel and I rested for the day.

The next day I felt good enough to go for a walk along the beach and to get coffee. I had a pounding headache from caffeine withdrawal thanks to the plentiful cups we sipped in Mumbai. The beach was pretty nice, with clean sand and coconut palms. Most of the shore was developed with fishing village huts. The main town was only a street, but it had everything a traveler needed, including an excess of Kashmir and Tibetan handicrafts. The tourists were mostly Indian.

Fishering huts on the beach.

More huts.

Kids walking to school.

Pigs humping.

Small fish drying in netted enclosures.

Fish delivery truck.

Colva Beach, Goa.

Fishermen bringing in the catch.

More fishermen bringing in the catch. This massive net was full of fish.

Fish.

Fish getting sorted. There was another basket for squid.

Cows lounging on the beach.

Dylan McCow is so cool.

Woman and water.

Defunct businesses.

After the walk it was back to the room for hours of rest. I went with J. to dinner but was feeling sick just looking at the food. I got a lime soda and a few bites of bread. A small bottle of Benadryl was purchased for less than a dollar to help my congestion and coughing. That evening I went to bed at 7:30.

Saturday I was still feeling crappy so I rested most of the day. By lunch my appetite had come back a little so we hung out a hygienic-looking “British-owned” pub called Tates. I got fish and chips and J. got jumbo prawns. We sat for three hours eating and playing cards. I went back to rest. In the evening, we headed to the beach to watch the sun go down. Storm clouds rolled, we ran for shelter, it poured, and the sky cleared just in time.

Crosses.

Crowds gathering for sunset.

Clouds gathering for sunset.

Our storm shelter.

Sunset.

We left Goa on Sunday. We didn’t get to do much of what I’d hoped: rent a motorbike and explore, try out the local cuisine, relax on the beach. I had slept for most of the stay, and by the time we boarded our flight I was starving. I realized then that in three days I had only eaten two meals, one of which I lost. Fortunately, despite all the local news of layoffs and cost cutting, Kingfisher Airlines served a great vegetarian meal on the one hour flight to Bengaluru (Bengalore).

Did you know that the name Bengaluru literally means “the town of baked beans”? It’s a weird historical juxtaposition to its current claim of technology outsourcing mecca.

Did you know that in our first day in Bengaluru we got food poisoning again? This time the culprit was a friendly, dosa-serving place we went to dinner. Just when my gut was calming down, it got tweaked again. J. wasn’t so lucky and for most of Monday has been in the bathroom or bed. Our one full day of exploration has been turned into one full day of burping, pooping, vomiting, and bed rest.

I think India has planned this all along. As soon as a visitor starts getting comfortable here, it needs to throw a little reality check. Reading the papers here reveals the constant potential for craziness at any moment. In a country where bombs blow, people riot, rape, stone, and crash, at little sickness from ill-prepared food seems pretty minor.

I’m looking forward to Thai food.

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