Ok, let’s face it: travelling ain’t always a bed of roses. Especially when traveling to places such as India, when you are not particularly used to the array of intense spices and, more importantly, levels of spiciness. You are basically guaranteed to get – as Anglos very elegantly like to put it – ‘sick’, from time to time.
Now, obviously, when traveling India for a number of months this it likely to occur a number of times. I will spare you the awkward details. Rather, I would like to highlight that – I am aware that this may come across a little odd – it has also proven to be a very effective way to bond with people. Especially with those who are in the same boat as you.
I had spent a long night on a train to Calcutta, and after months of having traveled with others, I thought it would be refreshing to explore the city by myself. The station was extremely busy, as always, but the morning was sunny and glorious, and I was set on adventure.
I managed to get as far as the old Victoria Memorial, one of Calcutta’s main tourist attractions, when I noticed something was off. Just a little bit iffy. I hurriedly got in a taxi and made my way back to the hostel, only to realise that I was sharing a dorm with ten other people, who constantly occupied the bathroom I so desperately needed every second minute. Great.
So I ended up bedridden all day.. and all night. Waking up the next morning not feeling sick was therefore a huge relief especially considering I had less than twelve hours left to make the most of my time alone.
But soon I was reminded that, when traveling, there really is no such thing as being alone. I didn’t get much further than the internet cafe, where a fellow traveler approached me and asked whether I knew the way around town.
“Well, to be completely honest with you,” I said, “I have been sick pretty much since I got here.
So I haven’t actually seen all that much..”
“Ah, sick.” he replied, understandingly.
“I feel you. Well, I’m ‘sick’ today. Let’s go get breakfast.”
And so, from there on, a shortlived friendship flourished. All because both of us just so happened to be sick. Occassionally we had to make an emergency pit stop, and we made sure to stay away from streetfood for the day. But at least there was no ice left to be broken.
What we take for granted in the Western world may be a luxury elsewhere, and that which seems to be the most awkward discomfort may just surprise you in the best of ways.