I’m slowly putting up reflections on my last trip to India for posterity’s sake – plus I have this innate belief that every thought and experience that I have is worthy of publication. At any rate, this story is worth telling.
Our entire trip went as smoothly as could be expected. No one got sick. Travel was perfect. Everyone got along really well. All the trip objectives were met. We went to dinner our last night satisfied that we had done all that we came to do. We would head back to Delhi the next day and then fly home.
Fortunately, I had escaped any type of stomach problems. It is no secret that I am not the biggest fan of Indian food. It just does not agree with me. Still, I thankfully eat all that is served me and I try to be gracious. I figure that it would be rude to say, "Um, I’m an American and I don’t like your food." So, I eat and smile. I am extremely careful about not drinking the water or eating any uncooked vegetables, though. For the most part, I protect my stomach pretty well. However, the last night it hit. I was finishing dinner and I had to run to the bathroom. I don’t want to get too graphic here, but the next couple of hours were pretty uncomfortable. I took some pepto bismol and finally laid down to get some sleep. This was around 10:30pm.
At around midnight, I was slowly awakened by something sharp and prickly stabbing into my hand. I was sleeping with my left hand stretched out above my head and as I felt the poking, I woke up enough to throw whatever it was against the wall. I jumped up, turned on the light, and pulled my bed back to find out what had just been gnawing on me. It was a roach. I figure that it was about 3 feet long. In reality, it might have been a medium sized dog. Somehow, I was able to grab my shoe and start beating it to pieces. It had really long antennae and it was massive. Okay, maybe not three feet long, but it was pretty big. The guy rooming with me jumped into the fray and actually beat the thing into two pieces. I’ve never been one to be afraid of roaches or any type of insect, but this thing was pretty big, and it had just been eating my hand. Roaches in America don’t do that, do they?
Well, after killing Godzilla, I decided to lay down and go back to sleep. I noticed that I could not feel my left hand. It was going numb. That was the hand that the roach had been gnawing on. Then, I noticed feeling leaving my right hand. Both my arms started going numb. Then, the rest of my body, including parts of my face. Um, this isn’t normal, right? I spoke to my roommate and told him that either I was going to get worse and die or I would get better. Clearly I was thinking on a very high level at this point. We were some ways away from a hospital or doctor so I didn’t really think that I could do anything about it. What was I going to say? I got bit by a roach and I going numb all over? Help? So, I told him that if I didn’t wake up, the roach numbing agent had gotten me. Nice. It must have been affecting my brain as well.
Eventually, I fell back asleep – for a little while. I awoke a little later to feel something else biting my hand. It was a mosquito. I slapped at it, and then felt another bite a moment later. Then, another and another. There was a swarm of mosquitos that had somehow made it into our room. I was feeling a bit sheepish about NOT taking the malaria pills that the rest of the team had taken. Oh, I won’t get malaria, I said. Not me. So, this goes on for a while until we realize that we should turn on the bathroom light to attract the mosquitos. We ended up sleeping the rest of the night (all 3 hours of it) under our blankets, covered from head to toe with a swarm of mosquitos waiting for any part of our body to stick out from under the blanket. When I woke up, there was actually blood on my pillow. I guess a mosquito got too full and spit some of my blood out before he flew off.
In the morning, I was talking with my roommate and I told him that I thought we experienced some spiritual warfare. He disagreed. "Just life," he said. Okay. Massive stomach cramps, followed by a flesh eating roach the size of a Volkswagen, followed by a swarm of mosquitos, all in one night. "Just life," he says. Maybe so.
I love going to India, but today, I am glad I am home.