India: Week Three
Day fifteen: Home Is Where The G&T Is
Arriving in New Delhi was our gentlest arrival yet, we just hopped into a Tuk Tuk* and headed for Christine’s (Rory’s mum’s school friend and practically his Aunt). Greeted with barks from the three beagles, Karina, Harry and Hippo, we had not long arrived when we were called for lunch with Aman (Christines husband) and his mum. This would be our first experience of being served by staff in a home, but it was heartwarming to see that they were less like ‘staff’ and more a part of family. Deciding to take a wee wander, we ended up walking through a small shanty town under the main road. It was a mixed experience of emotions. On one hand you felt sorry for them, having to live in such conditions but on another you are amazed. How do they seem so content with so little? Their houses are made from bits of scrap metal and rubbish but inside they make it into a proper home with little fires and furniture. lt really makes you reevaluate your own life and wonder how much more you could appreciate having things.
That evening, after living out of our backpacks for the last two weeks, it felt blissful to sit in a beautiful, masterpiece of a house. Clare sipping on a gin and tonic, Rory a Kingfisher beer (even from a glass) we ate dinner and chatted to Christine and her friend Jiva. A self confessed ‘massive queen’, within five minutes he had us all in stitches. Telling us about how much he likes kilts, both ogling men in them and wearing them. To the point where he had some made from cotton so he can wear them on the beach in Goa!
Feeling like losers, we stayed in and wrote (guess what) while the two fifty something year olds went out to a party.
*Fun fact! Its in Thailand they call them Tuk Tuks, in India it's a ‘rickshaw’, and either auto, pedalled or man-drawn. We were wrong!
Day sixteen: Taj Mahal Lite
After one our best nights sleep, we woke ready for some sightseeing, and on today's itinerary was Humayun's Tomb. Arriving, we realised that the foreigner entry price had doubled from what Lonely Planet had said of 250 rupees (£2.50 give or take). We paid no bother, having already learnt to put it into perspective at Elephanta Island, but one American girl was not happy. It was nice in a weird and kind of cruel way to see this girl shocked by 500 rupees, and how she “Didn't carry that much on her”. It let us see how much we had learnt.
Straight through the ticket counter and right is Isa Khan’s tomb ft mosque. With its surrounding high walls that you can walk all the way around, each stone looking as though it was purposefully placed, and a magnificent gateway. We were already impressed and wondered how much better Humayun's could be.
Spending some time walking around the gardens, exploring some more tombs and mosques, we eventually came to the gateway to Humayun's tomb. Or so we thought. This primary gate led you to a grass lined path leading to another gateway, this one a museum. Once through all this, we finally saw the main attraction. And it was awe-inspiring. The first reaction was a sudden accidental naughty word, but then we couldn't wait to start taking pics. One hundred separate tombs enclosed in a redstone with marble inlayed beauty. With similar water channels at the front, there is a resemblance to the Taj Mahal making us all the more excited for our trip to Agra.
Later, not feeling well, Clare went back to lie down while I went to explore another tomb (Delhi seems to have a lot). On arrival, it was clear there was work being done as much of it was covered in tarpaulin. After hovering at a small hut for a while, I figured you did not need a ticket so wandered in. About 30 feet down the path, a man shouted at me “You got ticket?”, which I obviously did not. That's when a woman popped her head out of the aforementioned hut “he say you need a ticket? Oh okay then, 200 rupees”. So I asked what this ticket would let me see, “you can't go inside, you can walk up to it”. Clarifying that this is exactly what I'd just done, I decided it probably wasn't worth it.
Day seventeen: Rory Feels the Jazz, Clare Feels the Blues
“I like forts” - Rorys motto for this entire trip. Anytime we look through the Lonely Planet and there's a fort he gets excited. Unfortunately, so far we had not been to any, but the Red fort was about to more than make up for it. Braving our first New Delhi bus (they don't stop or only for a few seconds) by leaping on still moving, twenty minutes later we were in Old Delhi.
Gigantic and looming, with helmet shaped holes in the top of the walls for "dropping rocks on enemies” (thank you, Rory) you're captivated by the red stone beast before you even reach the gate.
Once inside Lahore gate, and you've walked through the ‘Chakka Chowk’ (a covered bazaar), you're greeted by an array of old majestic buildings. Many made from marble with mesmerising stone detailing. We also did some more self loathing by taking a walk around the museum of Indian independence, detailing all the atrocities we the Brits have performed in India. The school trip going round ahead of us were probably throwing a lot of hate our way.
Once we got back, Clare started to feel a bit rundown which we attributed to too much sun and not enough water. The pair of us had been invited out by Imtiaz (Christine's daughter) to a jazz and blues festival in Nehru park that evening, but with a 1am train to Amritsar and only a few hours to do so, we decided it was best for Clare to stay in to recuperate. I decided to do the right thing and allow Clare to recover in peace (aye, my hero), and went to the festival anyway. The lights and decorations in the park were amazing, though apparently the sound system was not up to scratch.
Arriving home it became abundantly clear that Clare wasn't getting a train that night. Roasting all over, vomiting and diarrhea, we made the decision to forego Amritsar and allow full recovery time before our Rajasthan tour.
Day eighteen: Patient Zero
Waking in the morning to the same hell, we still thought that I had just a little too much sun and not enough water. After spending all day either on the toilet, face down in a bucket, or lying uncontrollably shaking on the bed, all the while still the temperature of the sun, the hospital warning came. If I couldn't hold down/in water by the late afternoon then I was going to hossi-p for an IV drip.
Surprisingly, for a little while I felt a bit better. I even attempted to eat some plain toast, go me. But it soon came crashing back down. The fever returned and in a delusional haze I managed to fall asleep that night. At some point.
Day nineteen: Death By A Thousand Needles
Early morning with still no improvement, and extremely dehydrated, the decision was made to go to hospital and be looked over. It not being far away, I topped up on imodium and we got going.
Still, I am certain Christine and Rory were in cahoots. Those no good, good do’ers done hornswoggled me into going to hospital for a ‘check over’. Then it was, “they've got you a bed so you're more comfortable”. Then it was, “we're just going to talk to the doctor, see what he says”. Then before you can say “I hate needles”, a drip was attached and I was to be in over night. I'm onto you guys..
And that was that really. A day of needles and me crying like a little baby.
Day twenty: Watching Paint Dry
So, it turned out my stool sample from the day before (yummy right?) was not good and showed the signs of a serious stomach infection. And due to me popping imodium like candies, I had made the situation worse by holding the bacteria inside instead of letting my wee body expel it.
Drip after drip after drip later, and an endless procession of food going uneaten, the doc man came back. My second stool sample (I know, it's yummier the second time) showed no improvement. A second night in hospital it was.
Day twenty-one: Kidulthood
The rest was just kind of a blur of crappy films, needles, samples and pills to be perfectly honest. No excitement really. Until Aman came to visit. As soon as he walked in, he noticed that the clock had stopped, the AC wasn’t working, and when I got up to use the loo, that I was carrying the drip stand as the wheels were broken. He was not impressed. We had noticed all these things previously, and had even had someone fix the fan, but being our overly British self’s we didn’t want to make a fuss about the rest.
In the short space of time that Aman was there, we had a new clock, a new drip stand with working wheels and there was a very terrified looking male-nurse who had been mistaken for the maintenance man. The AC however was broken, and when they left, Aman made it very clear we were not paying for an AC room with no AC. You had to hand it to the man, he got results!
Moved to a new room with working AC (thanks Aman!), I was told that the bug had been resistant to the antibiotics and that more aggressive ones would need to be used. Before I knew it I was stabbed in the arm, a ring drawn round it and wired up to new meds. However this meant that I felt even worse before I'd feel better, and more times than not, I couldn't get my drip together and to the bathroom before Mount Vespoovius erupted.
Now I have no shame when it comes to illness. If you are ill, you are ill and you do you girlfriend until you are better, but by the third set of soiled clothes, I had given up. After screaming at a poor nurse (to whom I apologised profusely to later), that I just couldn't bloody do it anymore, she returned but this time with adult nappies. At the time, too weak and distraught I did not see the funny side of this, even when she asked me if I needed her to fit it. Now, however, the imagery of me lying like a baby while a small Indian nurse puts a nappy on me is kind of funny. But poor nurse Rory, again going above and beyond his duties as a boyfriend, stood me up and helped me put this ‘one size fits all’ nappy on. If that size was for a 20 stone man. But it worked, I felt safe, not comfortable at all, but safe. Later, we had a good giggle about it. (I said I was going to put it in the blog, Rory said no, it's too gross. I win, ha!)
Seems as this week is lacking in both photos and adventure, here’s a nice one of Diwan-i-Khas in the Red Fort. ‘The Hall of Private Audiences’, where the Mughal emperor would entertain courtiers and state guests. That marble work is just summat else, right?